Arthur of England: English Attitudes for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance 0802057349, 9780802057341

Today, popular imagination peoples the Middle Ages with damsels in distress and knights riding to their rescue. Of such

334 49 11MB

English Pages XII+230 [244] Year 1987

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
1. Arthur and the Historians 3
2. Arthur and Chivalry 32
3. Arthur and the Common Folk 49
4. Middle English Arthurian Romances 64
5. Malory 91
6. Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period 107
7. Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature 128
8. Conclusions 163
Recommend Papers

Arthur of England: English Attitudes for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
 0802057349, 9780802057341

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview




Today, popular imagination peoples the M i d d l e Ages w i t h damsels i n distress and knights r i d i n g to their rescue. O f such knights, K i n g A r t h u r and his companions are the most celebrated. I t is certainly true that this is the time when the A r t h u r i a n story t o o k shape and A r t h u r i a n literature flourished, and that most medieval historians included h i m i n their histories o f B r i t a i n , though some d i d so w i t h a considerable degree o f scepticism. B u t how widely was this literature k n o w n i n its o w n day? H o w m u c h credence d i d people generally place i n this k i n g w h o supposedly once ruled England? To answer these questions Christopher Dean looks at medieval and Renais­ sance A r t h u r i a n literature i n detail, and also examines contemporary chroni ­ cles and histories, chivalric theory and practice, popular myths and legends, folk-lore and place-names. The result is t o show dramatically that A r t h u r was not at all as well k n o w n as popular belief today fancies. As a historical figure he was early discredited; had i t not been for his artificial revival by the Tudor monarchy and the furor caused by the attack u p o n h i m by the 'foreigner' Polydore Vergil, w h i c h incensed many patriotic Englishmen, his credibility might have disappeared m u c h sooner than it d i d . Except for Malory's w o r k , medieval A r t h u r i a n literature, w h i c h often exists i n no more than single manuscripts, d i d not have large audiences. A n d after 1500, only E d m u n d Spenser and Thomas Hughes attempted t o write seriously on A r t h u r i a n themes. A m o n g the ordinary citizens o f England, A r t h u r was hardly k n o w n at all, any popular knowledge o f h i m being almost entirely restricted to Wales, Devon, and C o r n w a l l . Elsewhere i n B r i t a i n the m u c h more familiar figure was R o b i n H o o d . For all the strength o f the A r ­ thurian legend as the ultimate medieval knight, he is essentially a modern hero. Christopher Dean is professor o f English at the University o f Saskatchewan.

This page intentionally left blank



ARCHVR, OFENGLAND English Attitudes to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance


University of Toronto Press 1987 Toronto Buffalo London Printed in Canada ISBN 0-8020-5734-9

Printed on acid-free paper

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data Dean, Christopher, 1930Arthur of England Bibliography: p. Includes index. ISBN 0-8020-5734-9 1. Arthur, King. 2. Arthurian romances - History and criticism. I. Title. DAI52.5.A7D43 1987 942.o1'4 C87-093088-5

Publication of this book is made possible by a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


This page intentionally left blank



1 Arthur and the Historians 3 2 Arthur and Chivalry 32 3 Arthur and the Common Folk 49

4 Middle English Arthurian Romances 64 5 Malory 91 6 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period 107 7 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature 128 8 Conclusions 163 APPENDIX 171 ABBREVIATIONS NOTES






This page intentionally left blank



POPULAR IMAGINATION today fills the world of the Middle Ages with gallant knights and fair ladies among whom, in the glittering splendour of Camelot, none stands so high as King Arthur with his knights of the Round Table. Yet we might wonder if even this estimation goes far enough, when Roger Sherman Loomis states that 'few people, except professional students of the subject, have any realization of the prodigious vogue of Arthurian romance and pseudo-history in Western Christendom during the Middle Ages.'1 Academic judgment and popular belief seem to agree that Arthur was both a popular and influential figure in the Middle Ages. Whether Arthur has been considered as a figure of history, a symbol of chivalry, or a character in literature, all critics who have assessed the way the king appeared to the people of the medieval and Renaissance periods have quite properly supported their arguments by bringing together quotations from contemporary sources. Yet the very act of collecting such examples may be misleading, because when they are isolated and discussed apart from the contexts in which they occur such examples seem more impressive than they really are. They tend to magnify Arthur and give him an importance that is not rightfully his. Let us look at two examples that illustrate this kind of unintentional exaggeration. When Queen Margaret visited Coventry in 1456, a figure representing Arthur spoke to her as part of the public show put on in her honour. Similarly, when Henry vIII entertained the Emperor Charles v on his visit to the English court, Arthur, sitting under a cloth of state, was part of the divertissement provided for the emperor in the procession through the streets of London. Both these instances, therefore, quite rightly have been cited as evidence of interest in Arthur in the late medieval and the Renaissance periods. If we look, however, at the whole of the pageantry

x Preface that was instituted for these two visits, putting Arthur back into the contemporary contexts, we get a very different impression of him. In The Coventry Corpus Christi Plays we are told that Queen Margaret was first met 'at Bablake' where they 'made a Jesse over the yate.'2 There she listened to two speeches, one by Ysay (Isaiah) and the other by Jeremy (Jeremiah). Then within the gate at the east end of the church she heard two more speeches, one by St Edward, the other by St John the Evangelist. In Smythforde Street, each of the four cardinal virtues spoke to her. On the cross in the Croschepyng she saw divers angels, but there were no speeches. Only after that did she meet Arthur, who was depicted as one of the Nine Worthies. All nine spoke, but Arthur was no more prominent than the others. Finally, on the conduit in the Croschepyng she saw many virgins and a depiction of St Margaret slaying a great dragon. St Margaret made a speech. In other words, in the course of her procession, the queen heard eighteen speeches, five by religious figures. In that context Arthur's speech could not have stood out as memorable. The situation is the same in the case of Henry vIII and Charles v.3 At the drawbridge leading into London they passed representations of Hercules and Samson. In the middle of the bridge they saw Jason and the Golden Fleece. Proceeding up Conduit Street, they passed a palace with Charlemagne at its entrance, and in Leadenhall Street they met John of Gaunt. On the conduit in Cornhill was another palace, where King Arthur sat, served by kings, dukes, and earls. Finally, in the Chepe four ladies, each standing on a separate tower, represented the four cardinal virtues. Henry and Charles passed ten figures altogether, and Arthur was only one among them. He was not especially prominent and he did not constitute the climax of the procession. If anything, he seemed to parallel Charlemagne, and he was probably included as a counterbalance to him. It is my intention in this study to determine how Arthur was regarded in the medieval and Renaissance periods. I shall look first at what the historians of the time had to say about him, and then I shall examine the theory and practice of medieval chivalry to discover from contemporary sources what role Arthur played there. A study of Arthurian place-names, of relics associated with him, and of the folklore that came to surround him will reveal something of what ordinary people of the day knew and thought about him. Finally, I shall consider afresh the Arthurian literature of the medieval and Renaissance periods to see what it tells us about contemporary attitudes to the king and his court. I shall try to prove that the interest in Arthur during the medieval and Renaissance periods has been exaggerated by present-day critics and that,

xi Preface in fact, both his influence and his popularity were relatively modest. Occasionally, he caused heated controversy, especially in the sixteenth century when claims of his historicity were attacked by a man who was suspected of being a foreign papal agent, but usually he did not arouse strong feelings. He was accepted for a time, largely by the uncritical, as a historical figure and was used until about 1600 in works of fiction, unfortunately mostly by second-rate writers. This study will show the significance of a fact that tends to be ignored by writers discussing King Arthur: that is, that most of the writers and scholars in the medieval and Renaissance periods paid no attention to him at all. This examination of attitudes to Arthur embraces the entire Middle English period and most of the Renaissance, up to the middle of the seventeenth century. While no attempt has been made to delineate a rigidly defined period, the length of time covered will allow us to observe the rise, the flourishing, and the decline of interest in Arthur in England. The period begins with Geoffrey of Monmouth in the first half of the twelfth century; it ends in the middle of the seventeenth when serious belief in Arthur as a historic personage evaporated and when Milton's rejection of him as epic material seemed to mark the end of the king's literary life. Because this study centres on Arthur in England, my principal focus throughout has been on works written in English, but material in French and Latin, especially that composed in the British Isles, has not been ignored. Any study of Arthur today must be heavily indebted to the vast amount of work done by earlier scholars, and the list of references throughout this study shows how great my obligation has been. I have, however, looked myself at every primary work cited or referred to in the course of the investigation, and have produced different interpretations of some of them from those currently widely held. I would like to thank the University of Saskatchewan for a year's sabbatical leave without which I could never have found the time to complete this work, and for financial assistance without which this book could not have been published. I would like also to acknowledge the courtesy of the University of Toronto in allowing me access to its libraries and also to thank the Inter-Library Loan Department of the Murray Memorial Library at the University of Saskatchewan, whose staff have scoured the continent to bring me hard-to-come-by items of all kinds. In particular, I would like to thank Caroline Cottrell, the former head of that department. I have appreciated the help given to me by two of my colleagues: Judith Rice Henderson assisted me with Polydore Vergil's Latin as well as directing me to the more significant critical works on Spenser; David Parsons

xii Preface generously made his wide knowledge of Renaissance bibliography available to me. I thank them both. The editorial staff of the University of Toronto Press has offered me steady encouragement during the preparation of the manuscript of this study and has worked diligently with me to bring it to publication. I am grateful for the help so readily given. My greatest debt, however, is to my wife. Without her support and encouragement at all times, this work would never have been carried through to its end; much of what is clear and lucid in its style is the result of her sharp critical sense. For so many reasons, words truly cannot measure my gratitude to her.


This page intentionally left blank

1 Arthur and the Historians


HE CONCEPTION OF ARTHUR that was held by historians throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was essentially shaped by two major events in the twelfth century.1 The first was the publication of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Brittaniae about 1138; the second was the discovery of Arthur's remains at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191. Though both were deceptive, the history of Arthur's life being mainly a tissue of fabrication and the exhumation an out-and-out fraud, each made such an impact on contemporary minds that Arthur acquired a reality and a dimension that he had never had before. Until Geoffrey's history appeared, little more about Arthur was available to historians in England than the details that had been given by Nennius in the early part of the ninth century.2 William of Malmesbury, for example, in his De Rebus Gestis Regum Anglorum, completed about 1125, was able to tell his readers only that Ambrosius had quelled the barbarians with the powerful aid of the warlike Arthur, and that at the siege of Mount Badon Arthur, assisted by an image of the Virgin Mary fixed to his armour, had fought nine hundred of the enemy single-handed and driven them off with incredible slaughter (incredibili caede).3 Writing a few years later, Henry of Huntingdon included a brief summary of Arthur's battles in his account of the coming of the Saxons to Britain. He did not mention Arthur's death.4 There is no reason to doubt that both William and Henry believed Arthur had lived, but they saw in him no more than a successful warrior, who had fought the Saxons long ago. Like Nennius, neither actually called him a king, though William might be read as implying that he was.5 King or not, however, Arthur was for them only a figure from the remote past with no more than an insular reputation.6

4 Arthur of England Geoffrey's Historia was the first work to give readers a sequential and detailed history of King Arthur beginning with his magical conception at Tintagel and ending with his death by treachery on the banks of the River Camel. Five of the six main ideas that are subsequently associated with Arthur appear in Geoffrey.7 He tells of his strange conception through Merlin's magic, of his wars with the Saxons, of his conquests in Europe, of his wars with Lucius, and of his betrayal at the hands of Mordred. Only the idea that Arthur did not die of his wounds but went instead to a magic land whence one day he would return to restore the Britons to their former glory is missing.8 Because the tradition that Geoffrey founded is so important, we must describe his portrayal of the British king and the men around him before we consider what Arthur meant to him. In the twelfth century, secular glory and military success went hand in hand, hence Arthur's victories on the battlefield mattered above everything else for Geoffrey. The Historia, therefore, tells us little about Arthur's private life and does not show him relaxing from his duties as king.9 Equally missing are all the civil aspects of his kingship. He is not presented as a lawmaker, though other kings in the Historia are,10 nor is he a man devoted to bringing justice to his people, unless his battle with the giant of Michael's Mount is interpreted that way. In religious matters, Arthur's actions tend to be administrative rather than pious. He makes his chaplain archbishop at York after the devastation of the city by the Saxons, and later, at his coronation, he makes five more appointments, but what his faith means to him we never really know, because his expressions of it tend to be conventional and to be made only in military contexts.11 It is as a soldier, therefore, that Arthur is famed in the Historia. When he comes to the throne at the age of fifteen, he is already a man of excessive bravery and generosity. Though he can show mercy to his foes, usually his sterner side is foremost. When the Saxons break their oaths, he does not hesitate to put their hostages to death. Later he repulses the Irish, which leaves him free to turn on the Picts and Scots, whom he destroys with the greatest severity, sparing none. Arthur unabashedly seeks empire.12 With no legal justification and motivated only by naked aggrandizement, he sails to Ireland 'quam sibi subdere desiderabat.'13 His attacks on Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Gaul are equally unjustified. Arthur is an aggressive subduer of lands overseas partly because Geoffrey saw military conquest as an admirable activity of a warrior king, but there is another reason why Arthur is depicted as a conqueror of foreign territories. In order to give the highest stature to

5 Arthur and the Historians the British king that he can, Geoffrey deliberately equates him with Alexander the Great, so that his career must necessarily be one of foreign conquest.14 Both as an individual combatant and as a commander, Arthur excels. In single combat he defeats both Frollo and the giant of Michael's Mount, while at Mount Badon he kills 470 men single-handed. He shows reckless boldness against the Romans, rushing into the enemy, striking them down, and killing every man he meets. Such leadership inspires his men to deeds of comparable glory. Gawain belligerently provokes the Romans; Kay risks his life to rescue Bedevere's body from the enemy; Cador gratefully welcomes the prospect of war and makes a rousing speech in its support. Arthur, however, is more than just a reckless fighter; he is also a tactician, chasing the Scots to the forest of Caledon and hemming them in with cut-down trees so that they are starved into surrender. He shows wise leadership by rewarding with gifts of land those who have helped him, and he has the good sense to take his council's advice when it urges him to retreat from York in the face of Cheldric's advance. Geoffrey thus bequeathed to posterity the figure of Arthur as warriorking and conqueror abroad. Writers of romances later transformed his character into one more to their own taste, adding the softer qualities of chivalry to the king and the court around him. But there is almost nothing of this nature in Geoffrey.15 Kendrick exaggerates when he describes Geoffrey's Arthur as 'a warrior-king who fought with a bloody-minded zest every nation he could find time to attack, a barbarian who could not be restrained, even though he had a Roman wife, from a violent attack on the Romans themselves,'16 but Yen-Ten Bensel errs too much the other way when she describes Arthur as a 'simple British chieftain [who] becomes an imperial monarch, who unites in his person all the great and good qualities which are suitable and necessary for a glorious world-conqueror.'17 He is neither of these. He is presented too narrowly to be anything but a soldierhero, who brought Britain briefly to a pinnacle of glory never to be reached again. Geoffrey's conception of Arthur caught the imagination of the Middle Ages, and most historians preserved that conception for generations after its author was dead. The Historia was readily accepted by the majority of historians that followed Geoffrey. As Kendrick says, it quickly became 'the most significant book in the history of British antiquities. Within fifteen years of its publication not to have read it was a matter of reproach; it became a respected textbook of the Middle Ages; it was incorporated in chronicle after chronicle; it was turned into poetry; it swept away opposition with the

6 Arthur of England ruthless force of a great epic.'18 But what did Geoffrey himself think of the story that he had told? Two suggestions can be dismissed at once. Both Christopher Brooke and Valerie Flint believe that Geoffrey wrote a mocking parody of history.19 Brooke sees Geoffrey's work as deliberate literary fun; Flint sees it as an exaltation of the secular way of life that monasticism was coming more and more to threaten. But if Geoffrey intended a parody it must be judged a failure, for apparently no one saw it as such for more than eight hundred years. If he was trying to bring about social change he also failed. After all, what audience was he writing for? Who, except the clerics of the monasteries, had enough Latin to appreciate his supposed ironies?20 Would he really attack the only audience that could read him easily? Seeing irony and parody at the heart of much medieval writing is today's current fashion in criticism, nowhere more evident than in Chaucerian scholarship, despite the fact that none of Chaucer's contemporaries or immediate followers seemed to think of him in this way. We should surely be sceptical of perspectives that tell us that all the contemporary readers of a medieval writer misunderstood him and that only now has the key been turned that reveals the true nature of his work. Another view of the Historia is that of Basil Clarke, who feels that in the Arthurian material Geoffrey was faced with the problem of reducing and ordering a vast amount of 'luxuriant oral material,' while at the same time he was hindered by having to accommodate 'personal, family and local loyalties.'21 Clarke argues that operating under such severe limitations Geoffrey wrote as honest a history as he was able. This view, too, must be rejected for it does not fit the facts. In his preface, Geoffrey claims that in writing a long-needed history of Britain he was using as his sources both oral material and a very ancient book in the British tongue given to him by Walter, archdeacon of Oxford. This claim, at least in any literal sense, cannot be true. What oral tales he may have heard and used we shall never know, but the British book, if it existed at all, could have provided at best no more than the skeleton for his own work. Much of the substance in the Historia came from Geoffrey's own head. Whatever he claimed publicly, Geoffrey had to know in his own heart that he was not recording history as it had happened but that he was writing freely invented fiction, deliberately shaped to produce an effective story. Indeed, Geoffrey's highly successful artistry reveals itself on every page. If, then, the Historia was not history as Geoffrey thought it had happened, was it at least his attempt to create the history that might have been or ought to have been? Was he at heart essentially a patriot, as Thorpe believes,

7 Arthur and the Historians attempting to put the Britons in their rightful place in the forefront of history,22 true at least to the spirit of the British past as he understood it if not to the facts? Despite his name, Galfridus Monemutensis, which implies that he was born and perhaps spent his early years in Monmouth, Geoffrey was closely connected with Oxford all his adult life. It was to the Norman circle there that he attempted to attach himself; that was where preferment lay. The five dedicatees of the Historia were all from the Norman ruling caste,23 and it was their interest that Geoffrey sought. He would have seen no profit for himself as a Welsh patriot. We may assume, then, that Geoffrey deliberately set out to write the kind of history that he knew would find favour among the Normans. First, he painted the land they had just conquered as having a long illustrious history reaching back as far as Troy - and therefore as a land at least as worthy as France, the Normans' rival on the continent. Second, he made Arthur an aggressive conqueror of foreign lands, thereby giving tacit approval and support to the new Norman dynasty that had come to rule in Britain by precisely the same means. Third, he made his work up to date in outlook, rejecting the style of history favoured by early Benedictine monks, who aimed to show that history revealed the working out of God's purpose here on earth, and following instead the newer Norman fascination with the lives of individual great men.24 To do this, he created as his principal hero the fictitious figure of Arthur, who had descended from Brutus of Troy, who had ruled an empire that surpassed even that of Rome, and who was manifestly a greater man than any who had hitherto lived. Arthur was exactly the hero that Geoffrey's British saga needed, but his author could have no doubts about what he was - a creature almost entirely of his own imagination. Reaction to Geoffrey's history of Arthur was immediate and diverse, but before looking at it, we should first consider the other major event that shaped opinion about Arthur in the twelfth century. In 1191, Arthur's grave was found and opened at Glastonbury and his bones were collected and reburied in a magnificent tomb within the church. Arthur's burial at Glastonbury became part of the abbey's history and gained 'official' recognition in the next century when it was accepted by the English monarchy in the person of Edward i. According to Adam of Domerham, a monk of the abbey who wrote its official history in 1291, the tomb in which Arthur's remains had been placed was opened in 1278. He tells the story thus:

8 Arthur of England The lord Edward ... with his consort, the lady Eleanor, came to Glastonbury ... to celebrate Easter ... The following Tuesday ... at dusk, the lord king had the tomb of the famous King Arthur opened. Wherein, in two caskets painted with their pictures and arms, were found separately the bones of the said king, which were of great size, and those of Queen Guinevere, which were of marvellous beauty . . . On the following day . . . the lord king replaced the bones of the king and the queen those of the queen, each in their own casket, having wrapped them in costly silks. When they had been sealed they ordered the tomb to be placed forthwith in front of the high altar, after the removal of the skulls for the veneration of the people.25

Much modern controversy rages over the exhumation of 1191. Something was certainly dug up by the monks, but how authentic the relics were is an open question. Theories range from the view that the whole affair was a deliberate fraud to the attempt to suggest the steps by which the genuine grave of Arthur might have been relocated in the tenth century and marked at that time with a lead cross rather than the stone slab that had presumably once identified it. It has been claimed that the monks exhumed this second grave in iici. 26 The reason for the exhumation is also debated. A political motive may originally have been behind it. Gerald of Wales records the tradition that Henry n had been told by an aged British singer where Arthur's body was to be found and that when the monks dug it up they were following the dead king's advice. There is no doubt that Welsh opposition to England was high towards the end of Henry's reign and that it was encouraged in part by the hope that one day Arthur would return to lead his people. It would have been to Henry's advantage as well as to the Plantagenet kings who followed him to scotch Welsh hopes of success against the English by establishing for a certainty that King Arthur was dead and buried and that he could therefore never return. But a more plausible motive for the excavation being done when it was is that of financial profit to the abbey. Most of the building had been burnt in 1184, and Henry's promise to provide funds for its renovation came to nothing with his death in 1189. The desirability of providing an alternative source of funds for the rebuilding program by bringing the curious to Glastonbury to look at relics of Arthur may well have prompted the actions of the monks. Such questions, however, are not of direct interest to the present study. It is not what modern historians think about the exhumation but what medieval people believed that concerns us. The first history of Glastonbury Abbey was written by William of Malmesbury between 1129 and 1135.

9 Arthur and the Historians It is a fairly straightforward account of the abbey, similar to those written about many other medieval houses.27 The writing of the history was part of a campaign to build up the abbey's prestige, which was being seriously threatened by the growing reputations of Canterbury and Wells. The monks seem to have gathered up the various traditions associated with their abbey and commissioned a professional writer to put together a history for them.28 Their choice fell on William of Malmesbury, who had already visited Glastonbury to use its library while he was writing his De Rebus Gestis Regum Anglorum. The work that William produced for the monks at Glastonbury was a libellus of modest dimensions and was probably put together quickly. Although no copy exists today, it must have contained notices of early saints and a cartulary, exhibiting donations arranged chronologically under the names of the abbots who had governed the abbey.29 William does not mention Arthur in his history of the abbey, nor does he equate Glastonbury with Avalon. He does, however, record among the antiquities of the place two ancient stone pyramids on which names had been carved that had become almost illegible. By reading these as the names of former abbots, William was able to show to the satisfaction of the monks that the abbey was of great age. Later commentators gave these pyramids an Arthurian significance.30 In 1191 Arthur's remains were found. Two nearly contemporary accounts of the discovery exist. One by Ralph of Coggeshall is from the early thirteenth century; the other by Gerald of Wales, who visited the site in 1192 or 1193, is earlier and fuller.31 Gerald tells us that the grave was marked by two stone pyramids, the same structures that William had already remarked on. The coffin, a hollowed oak log, was sixteen feet below the surface of the ground with a cross of lead attached to a stone beneath it. On this cross was the inscription: 'Hie jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus cum Wenneveria uxore sua secunda in Ínsula Avallonia.'32 By the bones of the woman was a tress of hair, which still retained its original gold colour but which crumbled to dust when a greedy monk snatched at it. In the man's skull were ten or more wounds. All had healed save one, which seemed to have caused his death. This important event in the abbey's life was incorporated into the official history of Glastonbury by Adam of Domerham in 1291, by which date Glastonbury and the king were inevitably associated by all medieval writers. Two links between king and abbey were generally accepted by the thirteenth century. First, the monks claimed that Arthur had been a patron of the abbey, holding first place among its benefactors. They told the story of

10 Arthur of England Ider, the son of King Nuth, who to prove himself went off to a mountain to fight three giants. After defeating them, he fell to the ground exhausted. King Arthur had also intended to fight the giants but, arriving later than Ider, he found him on the ground and thought him dead. Feeling responsible for Ider's supposed death, Arthur established twenty-four monks to pray for the young man's soul and donated land, later identified as Brent and Poweldon, to support them. It happened that William of Malmesbury's earlier history had said that Brent was a gift from the Anglo-Saxon King Ini in 725, but the monks were equal to explaining the inconsistency. They claimed that the gift was originally Arthur's but it had been seized by pagan Saxons; Ini was merely returning it at the time of his conversion.33 The second link was the widely held belief that Glastonbury and Avalon were one and the same. Gerald was the first to say so in blunt terms: 'Quae nunc autem Glastonia dicitur, antiquitus Ínsula Avallonia dicebatur.'34 Others quickly followed him; indeed, logic demanded the equation. Geoffrey had said that Arthur had been carried to Avalon, but his grave had been discovered at Glastonbury. Glastonbury and Avalon, therefore, were obviously just different names for the same place. The information about Arthur's burial at Glastonbury was repeated within a decade of the discovery of the grave. Gervase of Canterbury, for example, in his Gesta Regum, written by 1205 at the latest, changes Geoffrey's text to read: '[Arthur] rediens in Britanniam, proditorem suum occidit Mordredum, sed et ipse occubuit, et in Avalun sepultus est, hoc apud Glastoniam.'35 The popular thirteenth-century Flores repeats the tradition: 'Sed proh dolor letaliter est vulneratus, qui illinc ad sananda vulnera sua in insulam Avalonis, quae nunc Glastonia dicitur, est transvectus.'36 From this fact arose the medieval historians' most fundamental belief about Arthur. The finding of his remains proved beyond any doubt that he really had existed at some time in the past. We return now to Geoffrey's Historia, the basis for the medieval story of King Arthur. The work was immediately popular. Within a decade of its appearance, Henry of Huntingdon had seen a copy at Bee in Normandy, Walter Espec, the founder of Rievaulx Abbey, had received a copy from Robert of Gloucester,37 and Alfred of Beverley said in his Annales that the work was so much in everybody's mouth that 'notamque rusticitatis incurrebat, qui talium narrationum scientiam non habebat.'38 The more than two hundred manuscripts of the Historia in existence today amply demonstrate how widespread the knowledge of it must have been in the Middle Ages. Its quick translation into French and English further extended its

11 Arthur and the Historians readership. Soon after 1300, Welsh versions appeared, and there was even an early fourteenth-century translation of it into Icelandic. The early acceptance of Geoffrey's account of Arthur's history is shown by the work of a minor historian, Ralph de Diceto, dean of St Paul's, who summarized concisely the chief events of Arthur's life and reign. Arthur was crowned by Archbishop Dubricius, then immediately fought and defeated Cheldric, the Saxon leader. Ralph does not describe Arthur's wars overseas because his account is so brief, but his reporting of Frollo's death shows that he knew and accepted the tradition of foreign conquest. He also includes the death of the giant of Michael's Mount and the war with Lucius. After defeating Mordred, he says, Arthur departed to the island of Avalon to heal his wounds. After 1200, the story of Arthur became established, one chronicler after another repeating the same generally accepted account of his reign. Though emphases change and the scale of treatment varies enormously, though details are sometimes added or left out, the fundamental outline has hardened into an accepted medieval canon. The story begins with Arthur's conception, when Merlin disguises King Uther as Duke Gorlois. Arthur becomes king at the age of fifteen. His bravery and generosity immediately attract knights to his court from all parts of the world. The wars with the Saxons, the Picts, the Scots, and the Irish that follow the king's succession are told in varying amounts of detail, but all the chroniclers include them. Most record his success at the battle of Badon. In this connection, even the most sober historians report without question the tradition of Arthur's triumphing over enormous odds single-handed. In Langtoft's Chronicle he kills no more than seventy men, but other historians give other numbers; Richard of Cirencester says 460, Robert of Gloucester 470, and the Flores 840.39 In the accounts of Arthur's overseas conquests, however, there are some differences of treatment. If the conquests are mentioned at all, the conquered countries always include Ireland, the Orkneys, and Norway. While some chroniclers restrict his empire to these lands alone, others such as Langtoft and Manning extend the list to include Iceland, Gothland, Wentland, Denmark, Flanders, Boulogne, Poitiers, Gascony, Lorraine, all southern France, and Rome. John Harding goes even further and adds Spain and Portugal to Arthur's empire. There is general agreement that Arthur met his death fighting Mordred, who had betrayed him, and many chronicles report his burial at Glastonbury. If historians suggest that there is any doubt about Arthur's death, they maintain that it is only the Welsh who think he is alive. An exception

12 Arthur of England is the Brut, which reports the prophecy of Merlin that Arthur's death 'shulde bene dotous,' and then comments, 'and he saide sothe, for men fcerof 3itte hauen doute, and shal for euermore, as me saij), for men weten nou3t whe£>er f>at he leuejD or is dede.'40 Later medieval chronicles typically report three other matters relating to Arthur. First, as Robert of Gloucester tells us, he held a great coronation feast at Whitsuntide: In ioye & blisse he was ynou & alie J^at WÍ]D him were & a3en witesontyd hit was in J)e 3ere He J)O3te JDC heye feste of wytesonetyd do. Wif) honour among is men & J^at allé come JDerto BoJ)e kinges & dukes & erles echón Barons & kni3tes & squiers monyon Leuedies & maidens & ech mon J^at a3t were.


Second, he was a great Christian king, as shown by his words in the Brut, encouraging his men in battle: Go we now, and seche ham sharpely in JDC name of alm3ty God, and slee we J)e paynemys and Cristen men f>at bene enemys wif) ham forte destroe Oisten men; and God shal vs helpe, for we hauej) the ry3t, and perfore haue we gode trust in God; & done we so t>at JDC enemys J^at bene to Oistendome & to Gode mow bene dede & destroiede, & J)at men mow recorde JDC worbinesse of kny3thode! (i 86)

Third, he established the Round Table so that chivalry and courtesy prevailed in the land. The Brut tells of the founding of the Round Table: and Jwfore Kyng Arthure made J)e rounde table, J)at when J>ai shulde sitte to JDC mete, allé shulde bene aliche hye (i 78)

and Harding describes the chivalry of its knights: THer was no knight accompted of honoure But if he wer in warre approued thrise, Nor with ladies beloued as paramoure; Which caused knightes armes to exercyse, To be vertuous, and clene of life and wise.41

13 Arthur and the Historians The same chronicler conveniently summarizes the general opinion held about Arthur at the end of the medieval period: REigned he had then sixe and twenty yere, Moste redoubted in erth & moste famous, The worthiest and wysest without pere, The hardyest man and moste coragious, In actes marciall moste victorious. In hym was neuer a drope of cowardise, Nor in his herte a poynte of couetyse. There was neuer prince [of giftes more] liberal, Of landes geuyng, ne of méate so plenteous, Agayn his fooen was moste imperiall, And with his owne subiectes moste bounteous; As a lyon in felde was moste douteous, In house a lambe of mercy euer replete, And in iudgement euer [eguall was] and discrete

(Chapter 85)

Medieval chronicles tend to be impersonal. Though some may express the sympathies of a particular house, the outlook of its abbot, the prejudice of a lay patron, or even the individual viewpoint of the writer himself, such bias is exceptional. Consequently, while it is relatively easy to report what the medieval historians who record the story of Arthur say, it is much more difficult to know how truthful they thought their material to be.42 To a man, they say nothing about what they conceived history to be, nor do they say how important they considered the establishment of factual accuracy. Certainly none of them tells us what steps he took to verify what he reports. Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, for example, starts immediately into its narrative without any word of introduction by its author. Langtoft has one opening stanza, but he uses it only to ask God's blessing on those who listen to him attentively. The opening four lines of the Anonymous Short Chronicle contain a call for attention that recalls the oral style of medieval romances. Robert Manning's principal concern in his opening is to justify his decision to write in English, though he does also assure his readers that he is following his authorities exactly. He does not, however, discuss their reliability. For John Harding, history is a didactic tool; he uses historical events to provide moral lessons for the duke of York. In assessing those historians who make no direct comment on the Arthurian story, we can proceed only by inference. It is clear that these

14 Arthur of England men are not just mechanical copiers of whatever came to their hands. They thought about their material and did not feel inhibited about altering it when they had a reason to do so. Some leave out material that they cannot credit: Langtoft, Manning, and Gray leave out Merlin's prophecies, Richard of Cirencester omits Merlin's miraculous birth, and Warner cuts out most of Arthur's battles abroad. Sometimes they change the story to make it more plausible, for example, by having Mordred seek the help of the Saxons in his rebellion against Arthur.43 At other times they add interesting bits of information that are not parts of the orthodox story but perhaps seemed too good to leave out. Examples are Rishanger's statement that Arthur was crowned at Stonehenge, or Gervase of Tilbury's that Arthur's final resting place is Mount Etna.44 The changes just described are not the kind that can call into question the authors' belief in their material. But when an author mixes obvious fiction with history we cannot be sure that he is entirely serious about what he is writing. Thus John Harding fails to distinguish between fact and fiction when in chapters 77 and 78 he tells us the story of Galahad and the Holy Grail.45 According to Harding, Galahad went to Sarras and died there, his heart being brought back to England by Perceval and Bors. Harding tells us that it now lies buried at Glastonbury. The same writer also makes Lancelot a figure in English history. Of all the knights of the Round Table, he alone survives the battle with Mordred, and he visits Arthur's tomb after the king's death. Similarly, Manning cannot have been so naive as to accept as literal truth what he says about Arthur's sword: . . . Caliborne, \>at gode brond; A better e cam neutre in no kynges hond; Ten fote longe was J)en J)e blade, In Ramesey & ofcer stedes {DC merke ys ymade; ffro {DC hilte vnto JDC pomel Was twenti vnche large, meten ful wel; I>e brede of \>Q blade was seuen inche & more.46

We must take in the same vein the impossibly large number of men that all the chroniclers claim Arthur killed by himself at the battle of Badon. No reasonable man could believe that even in the remote past deeds such as these were performed by an authentic historical figure. Nevertheless, despite their inclusion of material they must have recognized as fictional, it seems fair to say that most medieval historians who described Arthur's reign believed that there was a hard core of truth in the story.

15 Arthur and the Historians They thought that his remains were resting at Glastonbury Abbey, and they had no reason to question their authenticity. Further, it would have been politically unwise to question Arthur's historicity. Edward i, by his actions at Glastonbury, had set his seal of approval on the king's existence, and he was soon followed by another ardent devotee of Arthur in Edward in. So, perhaps impressed unduly by the persuasiveness of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and willing to accept his account both because it filled a large gap in British history between the Roman occupation and the coming of the Saxons and because it was too good a story to sacrifice in an age that loved well-told tales, most chroniclers turned a blind eye to the pitfalls in the narrative and told it anyway. In doing so, they embellished it or reduced it as they saw fit to suit their own tastes and purposes. Their attitude was essentially one of acceptance and their manner of telling uncritical. Some details at least they must have used more for their effect than because they believed them to be literally true. If most chroniclers were willing to disregard the problems raised by Geoffrey's account of Arthur's reign and to repeat his version more or less as he told it, others were not. The first of these was Henry of Huntingdon, who discovered a copy of the Historia at the monastery of Bee in Normandy in January 1139, while on his way to Rome. He was so amazed at his find that he felt compelled to send a summary of it to his friend, Warinus.47 This action has been taken to signify Henry's approval of the work's content. Fletcher, for example, says that Henry 'accepted it almost without question, at least to the extent of copying it in abstract,'48 and Chambers follows him, saying that Henry 'did not hesitate to use it as material for the revision of his own work.'49 Nevertheless, it is significant that when Henry subsequently revised his own Historia (originally written before 1133), he made no change in his account of the Arthurian period but merely incorporated the material he had found in Geoffrey in an appendix.50 As this suggests at the very least some doubt about the value of the new information, we should reconsider Henry's reaction when he found Geoffrey's book. He claims that he was stupens, usually translated as 'amazed,' though the basic sense of stupeo is more accurately 'to be struck senseless, to be stunned, benumbed.'51 What was it, then, that stopped Henry in his tracks? Was it the existence of all this new material that hitherto he had not suspected, or was it rather what Geoffrey had done in creating it? Was Henry taken aback by Geoffrey's skill as a historian in discovering previously unknown information, or was he shocked at Geoffrey's effrontery in passing off such material as genuine? If the latter - which I suspect, since Henry himself made no significant use of Geoffrey's text in revising his own work - then

16 Arthur of England the letter to Warinus was not intended to pass on new discoveries that Henry had just come across but rather was an invitation to his friend to share in the historical duplicity that Geoffrey had just perpetrated. 'Just look at what I have found here at Bee,' we seem to hear between Henry's lines, 'see what Geoffrey seems to have got away with!' Henry's reaction may not have been pure amazement at the discovery but rather indignation, tinged with some reluctant admiration for the clever fraud. Other historians were more straightforward than Henry in their negative reaction towards Geoffrey's history. By about 1150 we hear muted criticism of the story of Arthur and of some of the characters associated with him. In the Annales sive Historia de gestis Regum Britannie, a history of Britain from its origins down to 1129, Alfred of Beverley generally follows Geoffrey, though occasionally he supplements Geoffrey's account with references to other authorities.52 The fight of the dragons in the pool, most of Merlin's prophecies, and the story of Arthur's coronation feast, however, are beyond Alfred's belief and so he leaves them out. He is one of the first to wonder why there is no external corroboration of Arthur's story in the works of other historians. Much stronger are the comments of William of Newburgh, a man of whom we know little except that he was born about 1135 and spent nearly all his life at the Austin house of Newburgh until his death about 1198. His chronicle, Historia Regum Anglicarum, written at the request of the abbot of nearby Rievaulx in or just before 1196, begins with the Norman Conquest and ends in 1197. In it, William pours scorn on Geoffrey, who 'started up and invented the most ridiculous fictions' and 'with unblushing effrontery extols them' for the purpose of 'washing out those stains from the character of the Britons.'53 But William does more than just ridicule Geoffrey. He has some telling arguments against Arthur, arguments that occur again in subsequent writers. His strongest points are that Arthur does not appear in the chronicles of other historians, which immediately makes his authenticity suspect, and that there can be no place for him in the framework of history as related by Bede. These very same points are the basis for the Renaissance rejection of Arthur as a genuine historical figure some four centuries later. It is to William's credit that he saw their relevance so early. William dismisses the story of Arthur's fight with the giant because there have been no giants on earth since the time of King David. Because there were only bishops in the land until the coming of St Augustine, he also questions Arthur's creation of three archbishops. William mocks the enormous number of conquests ascribed to Arthur by Geoffrey, especially his

17 Arthur and the Historians rapid overrunning of Gaul, 'a nation which Julius Caesar, with infinite peril and labour, was scarcely able to subjugate in ten years - as though the little finger of the British was more powerful than the loins of the mighty Caesar' (400). In William's eyes, Geoffrey is a fabricator, who wrote a completely fictional story for which there was no corroboration anywhere. Quite different is the attitude of Stephen of Rouen, who entered the abbey of Bee about 1143 and died sometime after 1170. Tatlock describes him as a writer of moderate to poor Latin verse whose principal work, Normannicus Draco, was written between 1167 and ii69. 54 In it, the aristocratic Norman ridicules Arthur. He first undermines the king's dignity by making him the ruler of the Antipodes, an indefinite land beyond Asia inhabited by grotesque people.55 He then gives Arthur a fairy sister, and it is she who somehow transfers her own immortality to her brother. That is how Arthur gets to Avalon. By taking this point of view, Stephen effectively removes Arthur from history and thrusts him into the world of fairy-tale, fit only for audiences of the ignorant.56 Another different kind of comment on Geoffrey's Historia is the wellknown anecdote told by Gerald of Wales about a certain Meilerius, from the region of Urbs Legionum, who, being possessed by devils, was by them endowed with the capacity of discovering any falsehood with which he was brought into contact. When the gospel of John was laid on his lap, the devils vanished, but when Geoffrey's history was substituted, they returned in greater numbers than ever.57 But Gerald is not a critic who can be entirely trusted. Born at Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire, about 1146, he attended the University of Paris after schooling at St Peter's Abbey in Gloucester. His ecclesiastical hopes were almost entirely centred on Wales, and in particular he wanted the bishopric of St David's, which had been held earlier by his uncle. Success seemed at hand when he was unanimously elected by the full chapter in June 1199, but the appointment was blocked by the archbishop of Canterbury. Gerald made three journeys to Rome to fight his case but failed in all his appeals. He apparently retired to Lincolnshire and lived there, a defeated man, until his death about 1223. Gerald's comment on Geoffrey has an air of jealous spite about it. It seems to express the envy of a man who has been disappointed in his own hopes of advancement over the enormous success of another man's work. In any case, whatever personal animosity Gerald may have felt towards Geoffrey, he shows no sign of questioning Arthur's historicity. Earlier, in his Itinerary through Wales, the book based on the diary he compiled while in the train of the archbishop of Canterbury, who was seeking recruits for the Crusades, he had commented on two mountain peaks called

18 Arthur of England Kaerarthur or Arthur's Chair and had spoken of the king as 'summo et máximo Britonum régi Arthuro.'58 Of Caerleon, he had said that 'Hie magni illius Arthur! famosam curiam legati adiere Romani.'59 In The Conquest of Ireland he states: 'Legiter quoque famosum illium Britonum regem Arturum Hiberniae reges tributarios habuisse; et ad magnam etiam urbis Legionum curiam quosdam eorum accessisse.'60 Indeed, in his Description of Wales, he even explains why no authentic account of so great a prince as Arthur is to be found. It is apparently all the fault of Gildas, who was so irritated at his brother's death at Arthur's hands that he threw many excellent books in which the king's deeds were recorded into the sea.61 Our principal proof, however, that Gerald accepted Arthur as a genuine figure is that it is he who described in detail the finding of the king's body at Glastonbury, referred to above. Throughout the Middle Ages there was always to some degree a critical attitude towards Arthur. Thomas Rudborne, the author of Historia Maior de Fundatione et Successione Ecclesiae Wintoniensis (c 1454), and a certain Robertus, who lived and wrote in York in the fourteenth century, exemplify that questioning spirit. Robertus, the compiler of MS 4126 in the Bibliothèque Nationale, adds after a text of Geoffrey's Historia a brief recapitulation of it entitled Brevis Recapitulatio totius praecedentic opusculi, but significantly he omits the story of King Arthur from his summary altogether. All he says of the period is that the Britons resisted their enemies bravely for a time after the Romans left and won back their freedom, but very quickly lost it as a punishment for their grievous sins. They never regained it. Rudborne is less sceptical. He rejects the accounts of Arthur's conquests abroad and paints the picture of a degenerate king at home, who became so wearied by his incessant struggles with the Saxons that he abandoned Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, and Somerset to Cerdic.62 Critical though he is, Rudborne at least allows that Arthur existed.63 The severest critic of Arthur in the late medieval period is Ranulph Higden, a Benedictine monk of the abbey of St Werburgh in Chester. He wrote his Polychronicon in Latin for an educated audience of the 13205. Enormously successful - more than one hundred manuscript copies of it exist today - it has been characterized as a story-book filled with anecdotes and exempla.64 The Polychronicon gives a good idea of the kind of historical knowledge that well-informed readers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries would have had. Higden's account of Arthur anticipates the critical Renaissance spirit of later centuries. Certainly, in seeking external corroboration for the deeds attributed to Arthur and in doubting them when he failed to find it, Higden writes from the same point of view that Polydore

19 Arthur and the Historians Vergil later adopts. Higden's well-known criticism of Arthur's supposed adventures abroad is as follows: Furthermore about this Arthur whom Geoffrey alone among all historians praises so much many men wonder how they can know the truth. If Arthur, as Geoffrey tells us, had conquered thirty kingdoms, if he had conquered the king of France and had killed Lucius, the administrator of the republic in Italy why do the Roman, French and Saxon historians fail to tell us about such distinguished deeds when they tell us so many insignificant things about minor men? Geoffrey says that his Arthur killed Frollo, the King of France, but no such name is found among the French. Then he says that Arthur killed Lucius Hiberius, the administrator of the republic in the time of Leo the emperor when no such Lucius had charge of the republic at that time according to all the Roman historians that exist. Indeed Arthur did not even reign in the time of Leo - he had not even been born - but he coexisted with Justinian . . . Geoffrey says that he wonders why Gildas and Bede make no mention of Arthur in their writings. Rather, I wonder why Geoffrey praised so much one whom all famous and truthful historians in the past had hardly touched. But possibly it is the custom of every nation to praise some of their ancestors excessively .. and so the Britons praise their Arthur.65

Despite this, Higden accepts most of the story of Arthur as it applies to Britain. He believes, for example, that Arthur fought twelve battles against the Saxons, killing nine hundred men single-handed at Badon, that he fought and killed Mordred, and that he was buried at Avalon near Glastonbury. He also believes (mistakenly because the exhumation took place after Henry's death) that during the reign of Henry n (tempore régis Henrici secundi 322) Arthur's remains were found along with Guenevere's. On the whole, Higden seems to regard Geoffrey's Historia highly, questioning it only when it disagrees with the writings of other historians of high repute. Even then he does not always prefer authors such as Bede or William of Malmesbury over Geoffrey. It is only the extravagant alone - the magic of Merlin, Arthur's continental empire, and the hope of the Welsh that one day their royal line would again rule in Britain - that Higden cannot accept. The sixteenth century saw a change in men's thinking about Arthur. This change was not essentially caused by the discovery of new evidence or by the better confounding of the old but was the result of new attitudes towards history itself. Until about 1530, chronicles published in England were still medieval in nature, in that almost all of them attempted to record history from the beginning of creation down to the time of the chronicle's writing. They showed little critical discrimination in the material that they

20 Arthur of England included. Such chronicles made no attempt to probe below the surface and analyse personal motives. Indeed, even if it had been possible, such probing would have been thought irrelevant if not actually wrong, since for medieval people the purpose of history was to teach a moral lesson. Figures from the past were significant only in so far as their lives constituted a lesson for contemporary man.66 By the mid-sixteenth century, however, a different conception of history was becoming common. For this there were three reasons. First, the new Renaissance scholarship insisted on truth as the basic law of history. It demanded a fresh impartial examination of evidence and sources, and in so doing recognized that many witnesses hitherto accepted were either biased or wrong. Second, the more detailed and accurate a historical account was, the less it accorded with the medieval theory of history that virtuous behaviour was rewarded or that evil was punished.67 If history taught anything, it was not so much the principles of morality as the practical lessons about secular political conduct. One can detect the growing influence of Machiavelli and Guicciardini behind this concept.68 Third, influenced by the forces of religious change and a growing tide of nationalism, history, particularly in England, became more and more a form of propaganda designed to defend the policies of the ruler and to glorify the country's past.69 The central figure in the Renaissance attack upon Arthur is Polydore Vergil. Born about 1470, he studied at Padua and was ordained in 1496. He came to England in 1502 as a deputy collector of Peter's Pence and arrived at the court already possessing some literary reputation. This is probably why he was well received by the English king and it may have been royal influence that helped Vergil to preferment at Church Langston in Leicestershire in I503.70 Very soon after his arrival in England he became interested in the country's past and apparently kept a journal of all that he discovered. His decision, in about 1506, to write a history of England, however, may have been prompted by direct encouragement from Henry vu. Although Vergil began work immediately and had a draft copy ready by 1513, the political situation in the country suggested the wisdom of delaying publication.71 Consequently, his first published work on English history was an edition of Gildas in Antwerp in 1525. Characterized as 'a very respectable piece of scholarship,'72 it was the first critical edition of an English historical text. If we are to believe Hay, however, Vergil did not publish this work because of its own intrinsic interest but in order to prepare the public for the anti-Arthur position that the Anglica Historia was to take.73

21 Arthur and the Historians If he tried in this way to prepare his English readers for criticism of Arthur, he was clearly unsuccessful. The vilification heaped on him for his attack upon the British king went far beyond reasonable scholarly disagreement. Reviled as a foreigner and a papal agent, Vergil was even accused of having burnt priceless sources of English history in order to weigh the evidence in his favour.74 Looking at Vergil's history today, we might wonder what occasioned all the furore. He collected his material carefully, and as far as he was able he made judgments about the relative merits of his sources. Trusting principally in Bede, William of Malmesbury, and Matthew Paris, he rejected most of the others - especially Geoffrey of Monmouth - as mere annalists, often inconsistent and erroneous.75 For a man so attacked in his own day, Vergil is actually surprisingly inconclusive on controversial questions and hesitant to take a stand of his own. It may be that he was essentially a timorous man and that his reputation as a great debunker was one largely manufactured by his enemies.76 Polydore Vergil never makes an outright rejection of Arthur. He begins his reference to him in this manner: 'VTHERIUM Pendraconem ueneno necatum Arthurus filius insecutus est, uir bellicae rei cupidus, praelio strenuus, utilis consilio, et animo magnus. Sed inprimi dignus est, cuius memoria clara sit ad posteros, quod uehemens fuisse dicitur cultor pietatis, religionisque Christianae amator.'77 Here there is recognition that Arthur existed, though the passive form, fuisse dicitur, 'he is said to have been,' distances Vergil from any direct responsibility in claiming the king's historicity. He carries on in the same way with Hic fer tur tres Saxonum duces bello superasse 'he is said to have killed three Saxon leaders in war.' Geoffrey of Monmouth is then criticized, but more for gullibility than dishonesty, because 'multa effusissime de Arthuro litteris mandauerit cui plus fidei quam nobis super huius modi gesti rebus haberi facile patimur.'The only note of direct criticism we hear is Vergil's dismissal of the stories of Arthur's conquests abroad as old wives' tales (amilibus fabellis). Is it reasonable, he asks, to believe that Arthur could have been so victorious when he was not even able to subdue the Saxons in his own homeland? An early English translation of Vergil has the same kind of reasoned doubt. Faced, for example, with a factual contradiction in the story in that 'in the dayse of Arthure this abbaye was not builded,'78 the account rejects Arthur's burial at Glastonbury. Nevertheless, Arthur is called this 'noble prince' and is said to be 'suche a mann as, if hee hadd lived longe, hee surelie woulde have restored the whole somme beeing allmoste loste to his Britons' (121). His conquests abroad are recognized as exaggerated, but this is seen as no more than

22 Arthur of England the enthusiasm of the common people for'a popular hero, who 'at this presence [are] soe affectioned, that with woonderus admiration they extol Arthure unto the heavens' (122). Though Polydore Vergil attracted the notoriety of being Arthur's chief denigrator, he was not alone in his criticisms. Robert Fabyan (d 1513), for example, a prosperous London draper, alderman, and sheriff of the city, comments thus on Arthur's adventures abroad in his The New Chronicle of England and France, published posthumously in 1516: '& with a chosyn army sayled, as sayth Gaufride and other, vnto Fraunce, where, by ye reporte of Gaufride, he wrought wonders. For the wryters of Frensche Cronycles touche no thynge of suche notable dedes; not yet the wryters of Romaynes mynde no thyng of such actes done agayne theyre consull or emperour, called by Gaufride, Lucius Hibertus. Therefore I wyll spare all that longe matyer.'79 Nevertheless, Fabyan reports that 'all Auctours agreen that he was noble and victoryous in all his dedys' (79). He names twelve battles that Arthur fought against the Saxons, a list similar to but not identical with that in Nennius, and he is willing to repeat as authentic history the story that Arthur one day slew 140 Saxons in battle by his own hand. He believes that Arthur was buried in the vale of Avalon near Glastonbury and that his bones were dug up there in 1180 (81). He has, of course, got the date wrong. Yet another sixteenth-century writer in whom the critical spirit of the Renaissance is evident is John Rastell, lawyer, printer, and brother-in-law of Sir Thomas More. Born in 1475 and educated in the Middle Temple, he married Elizabeth More and moved to Coventry, where perhaps he acquired his interest in pageants and interludes. He moved back to London in 1512, was a member of the Reform Parliament in 1529, and a devoted agent of Cromwell. Later he fell on hard times and was imprisoned in 1535 for opposing a royal proclamation. He died, apparently still in prison, on 25 June 1536. Rastell's The Pastime of People appeared in 1529. As early as the prologue, where he questions the traditional accounts of how Albion got its name, he displays his sceptical attitude towards the supposed events of the past.80 The same questioning approach characterizes his account of Arthur. He dismisses the supposed seal of Arthur at Westminster Abbey because the abbey was not founded until the time of Sebertus, king of Essex, more than forty years after Arthur's death. He also points out that the use of wax seals on deeds did not begin until the time of William the Conqueror. In any case, he says, the seal cannot be genuine because wax could not last one thousand years, as it would have had to if the seal really did belong

23 Arthur and the Historians to the sixth century.81 On the whole history of Arthur as recorded by Geoffrey, his comment is that it is 'a long story, whych from other wryters is gretly dyscordant.'82 He does accept Arthur's historicity, however, to the extent that he records the finding of his bones at Glastonbury and repeats the inscription that was claimed to be on the leaden cross. In the end, Rastell takes up a cautious position, neither accepting nor rejecting Arthur as a British king: 'But yet, all this not withstandyng, I wyl nother denye the seyd story of Arthur, nor exort no man presysly to affyrme it; but to let euery man be at his lyberte to beleue ther in what he lyste' (107). Two other sixteenth-century references illustrate the problem that historians had to face with respect to Arthur. If, on the one hand, their critical common sense inclined them to reject much of the earlier traditional material associated with the king, on the other hand, a sense of pride in England's former glory and perhaps just plain prudence urged them to keep as much of the story as possible.83 An Epitome of Chronicles (1549), begun by Thomas Lanquet and continued by Thomas Cooper, master of Magdalen College School at Oxford and later bishop of Lincoln and then of Winchester, for example, says: 'Arthur, the sonne of liter Pendragon, a strepling of xv yeres of age, beganne his reigne ouer Britaine, and gouerned the lande .xxvi. yeres, hauyng continuall warre, and mortall battaile with the Saxones. Of this Arthur be written many thynges in the englishe cronicle, of small credence, and farre discordant from other writers. But yet all agree, that he was a noble and victorious prince in all his deedes: and thei testifie, that he fought .xii. notable battailes against the Saxones, and was alwaie victour.'84 Concerning Arthur's foreign wars, Cooper follows what has become the usual practice by this date and notes that the deeds recorded by Geoffrey 'semeth not to agree with other histories' (147). But at the same time he has no reservations about the truth of Mordred's treachery and the final battle 'besyde Glastenburie' in which Mordred was slain and 'Arthur wounded vnto death' (148). One final sixteenth-century work that shows the doubt that was current about Arthur's genuineness is Holinshed's Chronicles. Like others before it, this chronicle accepts that many of the stories about Arthur are exaggerated because people always seek to laud their national heroes more than the facts will allow. So it is suggested that the Britons, who 'aduance more than reason would, this Arthur their noble champion,'85 are doing no more than following a common practice. Nevertheless, although 'of this Arthur manie things are written beyond credit, for that there is no ancient author of authoritie that confirmeth the same,' the chronicle does accept

24 Arthur of England that 'he was some woorthie man, and by all likelihood a great enimie to the Saxons' (i 574). The chronicle records the finding of Arthur's body and reproduces the inscription from the cross. Dismissed by McKisack as an inferior historian who did not know how to leave things out,86 Holinshed is nevertheless useful in showing us what the historians of the critical school were still willing to accept at the end of the sixteenth century. The wilder claims for Arthur have been rejected and over the whole history there hangs an atmosphere of suspicion and disbelief, but at the same time we see a readiness to retain whatever can be credibly kept. At the end of the sixteenth century Arthur still holds on to his place in British history, though he loses much of the glory that was once attached to his name. In the sixteenth century, Arthur faced a second attack that was very different from the one mounted by the Renaissance scholars. Motivated by nationalistic feelings, the Scottish historians of this period presented their own version of the Arthurian story. They did not, in the manner of the more critical writers of England, seek to deny Arthur's existence; rather, they accepted him but blackened his character, depriving him of his role as hero and champion. A forerunner of this sixteenth-century movement is John of Fordun, probably a chantry priest of the cathedral of Aberdeen and the author of Chronica Genus Scotorum (1384-7). A Scottish nationalist, John praises his people and his country constantly, stating that the Scottish nation derived from the marriage of a Greek prince, Gaythelos, to Scota, the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Not content with just a noble pedigree, he insists on its antiquity, too, carefully pointing out that the marriage preceded the fall of Troy by 360 years and the building of Rome by 760 years. In the same vein, he extols his country's landscape; when compared with those of England, 'the rivers of Scotia, which are much broader .. [are] more full of fish, better, and more useful in every way.'87 John of Fordun quotes Geoffrey of Monmouth when he tells us that Arthur came to the throne at fifteen, was a courageous and bounteous king of such charm that all loved him. His own contribution to the story is the argument that Arthur succeeded to the throne illegally because he was illegitimate. The real heir, in John's view, was Anna, Arthur's lawful sister, or Galwanus or Mordred, her children by Loth, a Scottish consul and lord of Laudonia. John does recognize that Arthur became king through necessity because Britain was threatened by the Saxons while Mordred and Galwanus were still children, and he even grants that necessity makes something lawful that otherwise would not be. Nevertheless, he cannot regard

25 Arthur and the Historians Mordred's subsequent battles with Arthur as rebellious for he views Mordred as attempting to win a throne that is rightfully his. Keeler claims that John denigrates Arthur by giving him no foreign conquests, no magnificent triumphs, no withdrawal to Avalon, not even the minimum glory that contemporary English chronicles give him, but she overstates her case by arguing thus from negative evidence.88 That John omits much from the traditional English accounts is easily explained if one recognizes that his interests are centred entirely on Scotland and her people. England's affairs are mentioned only when they touch upon Scotland. There are other Scottish historians who present Arthur in an unfavourable way, such as John Major in his Historia Majoris Britanniae (1521) and William Stewart in his The Bulk of the Croniclis of Scotland (1535), but it will suffice here to look at only the most important one, Hector Boece, who was the first principal of the University of Aberdeen. In his Scotorum Historia he says that there was good peace and concord between the Britons, the Picts, and the Scots in the time of Ambroise, but in the reign of Vter the Britons degenerated into a surfeit of 'ydilnes and excess of pleserr' and some even 'left {DC richt faith, and maid adoracioun to ydolis.'89 It was Vter who compelled the Britons to prefer Arthur, 'gottin in adultery' (360), over his legal children. Though affairs are later patched up and Lothus agrees to give up his claim to the throne in Arthur's favour provided that his sons succeed after Arthur's death, the Britons, 'insolent by lang pece' (377), break the treaty and persuade Arthur to accept Constantyn as his heir. Once again Scottish eyes see the final battle as a legitimate attempt by Mordred to win what is rightfully his. Though Mordred is killed, this battle is taken as an English defeat, for the Scots carry off horses, riches, and coffers as booty while the Picts seize Guanora, Arthur's queen. Boece is ambivalent about Arthur. On the one hand he praises him, thus 'King Arthure sett him to repair {DC kirkis, quhilkis war destroyitt by £>air tyranny, and naymlie to repare £>e enormiteis done in 3ork, becaus f>e Saxonis did maist cruelte in £>e samyn, and exhortit £>e pepill to divyne seruice' (371). Further, Arthur was a Christian king fighting under the image of 'Oure Blissit Lady' (372) and he richly rewarded Mordred and Gawolane when they fought by his side as his allies. On the other hand, Boece says that Arthur was responsible for instituting the celebrations of Christmas that later led to 'schaymfull glutony' that has 'corruppit' both English and Scottish alike (369). Boece feels he must reject as improbable all the stories of Arthur's conquests abroad. Although the cool thinking of Renaissance scholarship was casting doubts fairly widely on the veracity of Arthur's story among the more intelligent

26 Arthur of England antiquarians of the day in England, we must not forget that among the less critically minded, affection for Arthur still ran strongly throughout the late fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. One reason why most Englishmen stubbornly held fast to their belief in Arthur was an understandable pride in England's glorious past and a reluctance to give this up for a less splendid picture; it was difficult to accept, for example, the 'extreme probability that the original inhabitants [of Britain] were halfnaked savages rather than the sophisticated Trojans pictured in popular accounts.'90 A second and less admirable reason for the jingoistic rejection of the criticism of Arthur was its association in the popular mind with Polydore Vergil, not only a foreigner from Italy but supposed by some to be a papal spy as well. More significantly, belief in Arthur was sustained for a while by the re-emergence, with official encouragement, of the so-called British Hope, which saw in the new Tudor dynasty a return of Arthur's line to the English throne. The British Hope came originally from the beliefs of the eleventhand twelfth-century Celts, who, because they had been subjected to heavy oppression by the Normans, had looked for a messiah as an encouragement against their conquerors.91 Before that time no trace of the idea is to be found. The early tenth-century Welsh poem Armes Prydein, for example, calls upon all Britons to rise up and defeat their oppressors, but though it names many heroes of the past, who will come as deliverers, Arthur is not one of them.92 By the twelfth century the situation had changed, as is shown by the well-known story of the canons of Laon, who were travelling, in England in 1113 to raise money for the restoration of their cathedral. On a journey through Devon and Cornwall, the canons came to Bodmin where a fierce quarrel arose between members of their party and a native of the area about whether Arthur were alive or dead. The Briton maintained that he lived. After this date, references to the British Hope are frequent and many positions are taken. Some writers believe it; some say that they personally do not but report that the Britons do; some mock the Britons for their folly; some implicitly deny the 'Hope' by factually reporting the discovery of Arthur's grave at Glastonbury. Henry of Huntingdon early reports the British belief, saying in his letter to Warinus: 'Mortuum tamen fuisse Britones parentes tui negant, et eum venturum solenniter expectant.'93 Wace and La3amon are cautious on the subject, reporting the British belief but carefully refraining from commenting on it themselves. One twelfth-century historian, however, strongly condemns the foolishness of such a hope. In the Proemium to his Historia Rerum Anglicarum, William of Newburgh comments on

27 Arthur and the Historians the British, 'quorum plurimi tarn bruti esse feruntur, ut adhuc Arturum tanquam venturum exspectare dicantur, eumque mortuum nee audire patiantur.'94 Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the expectation continues to be alluded to. Flores, for example, reports the British belief: 'quoniam de morte Arthuri vel ejus sepultura nihil referunt historiae, gens Britonum ipsum adhuc vivere prae magnitudine dilectionis contendunt,' (i 269) and the Brut takes a similar position: 'and 3¡tte f>e Britons supposen J^at he Leuef) in a-no^ere lande, and £>at he shal come 3it and conquere al Britaigne; but certes {DÍS is JDC prophecie of Merlyn: he saide J3at his deJD shulde bene dotous; and he saide sothe, for men \yerof 3itte hauen doute, and shal for euermore, as me sai{D, for men weten nou3t whe£>er J>at he leuej) or is dede' (i 90). Robert of Gloucester reports the British belief but immediately adds that Arthur's bones have been found at Glastonbury, which seems to show that he at least sets no store by the British legend. Robert Manning is even more abrupt. The Britons believe that Arthur still lives, 'But y seye J)ey trowe wrong' (14,301). John Capgrave is content to say, 'The olde Britones suppose that he is o lyve' (8y).95 At the end of the fifteenth century the version of the British Hope that was officially supported was one significantly altered in the interest of credibility. Since the actual return of King Arthur could no longer be accepted, the prophecy at the end of Geoffrey's Historia was invoked instead. Cadwalader, who had hoped to return to Britain to regain his lands, was forbidden by an angel who told him that his country would be great once more when at some future time his remains were carried back to the island. This was what Henry vu claimed when he took the throne in I485.96 Henry fashioned a coat of arms that showed Brutus, Belinus, and Arthur in one quarter, thus laying claim to an ancient British lineage.97 More important, in 1486 he named his first son Arthur, undoubtedly hoping to capitalize on the patriotic enthusiasm for his Welsh ancestry. When the boy was made Prince of Wales on 29 November, 1489, poets rushed to praise the event. John Skelton wrote Prince Arturis Creacyoun, and Bernard André, the poet laureate, wrote De Arturiprincipis creatione. Some evidence from contemporary pageantry also shows that the links between the prince and King Arthur were pursued. When the prince visited Coventry in 1498, he was greeted by players who reminded him of the conquests made by his namesake.98 Yet, only two years later, the pageants at the conclusion of the prince's marriage to Katherine of Aragon made only one reference to King Arthur and that was in connection with the star Arcturus." The principal pedigree emphasized was the prince's descent from John of Gaunt.

28 Arthur of England Henry could trace his genealogy back through his grandfather, Owen Tudor, to Llewellin ap Griffith and to Cadwalader and so could claim to be a Welsh prince and heir to Brutus. Bernadus Andreas, virtually the official historian of the reign, in his Historia Regis Henrici Septimi shows the king's descent from Cadwalader on his father's side as well as from John of Gaunt on his mother's.100 John Leland's De Rebus Britannicis Collectanea quotes part of a speech intended to greet Henry on his entry into Worcester in 1486. Though the pageant was never performed, it would have proclaimed the link between Henry and Cadwalader: Cadwaladers Blodde lynyally descending, Longe hath bee towlde of such a Prince comyng, Wherfor Prendes, if that I shal not lye, This same is the Fulfiller of the Profecye.101

Henry was sufficiently interested in the matter to appoint a commission to examine the pedigree of Owen Tudor, but he did not actively pursue his Welsh descent beyond this. The reason for his coolness is understandable. The whole issue was potentially dangerous because his Yorkist rival, Edward iv, could just as easily trace his own line back through Roger Mortimer, Ralph de Mortimer, who married Gwladys Duy in 1230, and Rhodri Mawr to Cadwalader.102 In 1522, Henry vin was making much of his lineage from John of Gaunt, not his Welsh descent from Owen Tudor. Even so, as late as 1586, William Warner in his Albions England still accepted the truthfulness of Arthur's history, yet felt nothing amiss in praising Elizabeth in these words of Cadwalader: Yet (if I shoote not past myne aime) a world of tyme from me, Parte of our blood, in highest pompe, shall Englands glorie be: And chiefly, when vnto a first succeedes a second She.103

In terms of real politics, however, there was nothing 'to show that the worldlywise Tudor sovereigns thought that they were really and truly descended from a line of Trojan kings, or believed that King Arthur had been master of Western Europe.'104 The early royal interest in the British ancestry at Henry's accession in 1485 had long since waned by the latter years of Elizabeth's reign.105 As we noted above, the attack upon Arthur was thought to be spearheaded by Polydore Vergil. At least some of the English reaction was no more than wounded insular pride. It took the form of insult and name-

29 Arthur and the Historians calling. John Leland's tone is relatively mild: 'He handleth Arthures cause in deed, but by the way, he is yet so fainte harted, luke warme & so negligent yt he makes me not onely to laugh, but also to be angry (as while he is contrary to truth, and filled wt Italian bitternesse) I know not whether he smile or be angry.'106 Much more vindictive is the vituperation of David Powel, fellow of All Souls and vicar of Ruabon, who in 1584 brought out The Historie of Cambria, a version of Humphrey Lhuyd's English translation of Caradoc of Llancarfan: Therefore let William Paruus and Polydore Vergil, with their complices, stoppe their lieng mouthes, and desist to obscure and darken the glistering fame & noble renowme of so inuincible and victorious a prince, with the enious detraction and malicious slaunder of their reprochfull and venemous toongs, thinking that they may couer with the cloud of obliuion, and burie in the pit of darkenesse those noble acts and princelie deeds by their wilfull ignorance and dogged enuie, whereof the trumpet of same hath sounded, not onelie in Brytaine, but also throughout all Europe. But remitting the discouering and blazing of their cankered minds towards the honour and fame of the Brytaines, to such as can better paint them in their colours.107

Much of the adherence to this head-in-the-sand belief in Arthur, one suspects, is the result of a curious mixture of traditional conservatism and sentimental pride in a past glory, which the average Elizabethan was unwilling to let go. A typical product of the time was John Stow, born in London about 1525. He became a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company in 1547 and spent much money accumulating a celebrated library. He eventually gave up his business interests to follow his antiquarian pursuits, but these were not profitable and he ended his life in poverty in 1605. He wrote several histories, one of which, The Chronicles of England, appeared in 1580. There, moved by patriotism, he says: 'Of this king there be many fabulous reportes, but certayne, he was a Prince (as Malmesberie saith) more worthy to haue aduancement by true Histories, than false Fables, being the only proppe and vpholder of this his Countrey.'108 No reasons for this belief in Arthur are advanced; it is as if Polydore Vergil had never written. Similar unsupported comments appear in John Coke's The Debate betwene the Her aides of Englande and Fraunce, Robert Chester's Love's Martyr, and Thomas Churchyard's The Worthiness of Wales. These Elizabethans, the last historians who seriously profess to believe in Arthur, continue to repeat most of the traditional material about the British king: his twelve battles against the Saxons, his founding of the Round

30 Arthur of England Table, his death and burial at Glastonbury. His empire is still drawn in traditional terms by Stowe and Coke but is extended to Lapland and Russia by Hakluyt, to the North Pole by John Dee, and to Jerusalem by John Leland, though Leland probably thought of this journey as a pilgrimage rather than a military conquest. Mixed with this pseudo-history is material that is clearly romantic fiction; one cannot seriously believe that those retailers of it genuinely thought it true. Nevertheless, Coke tells the story of Galahad, Perceval, and Bors and maintains that Arthur buried Galahad's heart at Glastonbury in 538. In his notes attached to Leland's Assertio, Richard Robinson in 1582 traces Arthur's pedigree to Joseph of Arimathea, an idea picked up and repeated by Chester.109 Chester also shows an unusual interest in Arthur's coat of arms: Within his spreading Ensigne first he bore, Allotted from his royall familie, Three flying Dragons and three Crownes he wore, Portraid de Or, the field of Azure die.

The arms are completed by 'A crosse of Siluer in a field of Vert' and then The image of our Ladle with her Sonne / Held in her armes.' The only Elizabethan antiquarian who seriously attempted to meet Polydore Vergil on scholarly grounds was John Leland. Born in London about 1503, he was ordained and held several livings in his lifetime but never actually served as a vicar in any community. Instead, as one of many librarians at the royal libraries of Westminster, Hampton Court, and Greenwich, he spent the greater part of his life travelling about the country seeking lost or forgotten works. Leland consulted the evidence for Arthur as he knew it. He actually went to Westminster and looked at Arthur's seal. He cites place-names in Brecknockshire and Montgomeryshire that contain Arthur's name and, most important, he tells us that he looked at the cross taken from Arthur's grave 'with most curiouse eyes' and that he handled it 'with feareful ioyntes.'110 As Levy says, Leland's method of refuting Vergil was right; unfortunately, the evidence he believed was either forged or suspect.111 Even Leland's advocacy, however, could not hold back the tide that was running against Arthur. By early in the seventeenth century Arthur was no longer regarded as suitable material for serious poetry, much less accepted as an authentic historical figure. The two major poets of the time illustrate the change in attitude to Arthurian material. In 1590, Spenser still felt able to build The Faerie Queene around a much modified version of the

31 Arthur and the Historians Arthurian legend. Some fifty years later, after considering the idea for more than ten years and after suggesting several times in earlier works that he was going to write a poem based on British history that would surpass anything created by the greatest writers of ancient Athens or Rome or modern Italy, Milton changed his mind, expressing serious doubts about Arthur in his History of Britain.112 His study of the subject had eventually convinced him of 'the confusion and consequent uncertainty of the sources, [and] .. the alleged incompetency of the monastic historians' who had compiled them.113 This marks the end of a belief in Arthur's historicity until investigations in the twentieth century resurrected it again. Arthur has indeed come back as the ancient prophecies claimed he would, but in a form very different from that created by Geoffrey of Monmouth more than eight hundred years ago.


Arthur and Chivalry


)^+-/ ECOND ONLY to the teachings of the church, chivalry with its religious, moral, and social codes dominated the minds of the nobility in the Middle Ages.1 Consequently, since the knightly class of medieval England knew from its reading of romances and histories that King Arthur's court at Camelot represented the very pinnacle of chivalric splendour and prowess in the past, we might expect Arthur and the Round Table to have played a significant part in medieval chivalry, and thus in turn to have influenced the everyday lives of the aristocracy who claimed to espouse chivalric ideals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, we find that the deeds of King Arthur and his court and the principles they exemplified affected the noble way of life in medieval England hardly at all. For many years it has been the custom to describe the history of knighthood in terms of a rise followed by a decline.2 Recently, however, critics such as John Barnie, Malcolm Vale, and F.R.H. Du Boulay have challenged this pattern, but it is not our intention here to take sides in this dispute, since the quarrel in part is an empty one.3 What is important for our purpose is to note that some medieval writers claimed that chivalry had declined with the passage of time. Even such a romanticist as Jean Froissart on his last visit to England in 1395 felt compelled to write: 'What has become of the great enterprises and valiant men, and the fair battles and noble conquests? Where are the knights in England to do such deeds now? In former times Englishmen were feared and dreaded and people spoke of us throughout the world, and now one must keep silent.'4 Such comments are not confined to English knights. Critics of chivalry abroad include Honoré Bonet, author of L'Arbre des Batailles (1387), and Christine de Pisan, who wrote Le Livre des Faits d'Armes et de Chevalerie in 1408-9. Christine castigates fifteenth-century French nobles as follows: 'Soo is it by the grete

33 Arthur and Chivalry conquestas / that the auncyens dyde somme tyme / that the peple be not now so valyaunt / as they were woned to be ... vegece rendrith the reason . . . that the longe peas rendyth the men / whiche herto fore by longe and contynuel trauayllis were woned to excersice the feat of armes sette nothyng by that occupacyon / But now ben put in delyte / reste / and to couetyse of money / whiche the noble auncyens preysed nothyng but honour of armes / ne sette nought ther by / And thus is chyualrye sette in neclygence / & as it were forgoten & not raught of.'5 Coming back to England, we can easily see why criticism of the contemporary state of chivalry was so strong in the fifteenth century. In that age of violent transition, the chivalric ideal must have seemed to nostalgic eyes to embody the stability in standards that England most needed, and a return to the ideal must have been longed for. Nor was it just nostalgia that was operating here; the very way in which medieval thinkers envisaged society predisposed them to see the world declining. Unable to accept the fact of social change, medieval commentators looked instead for an explanation in the stereotyped image of disease in the body politic.6 Rather than recognizing that chivalry was obsolete and about to be replaced by a new way of life, they saw only a contemporary falling away from the higher standards that they imagined had existed in the past. The cure, they believed, was not for society to adapt to new conditions but for it to return to the ideals they assumed it had lost. From this backward-looking perspective arose an admiration for the heroes of bygone days. Eustache Deschamps, a biting critic of chivalric decadence in France,7 looked for inspiration to the days of Charles v, to the triumphs of Du Guesclin, and to Charlemagne, while in England, Lydgate put the case more generally when he explained why he wrote his Troy Book. He did it, he said, at the command of Prince Henry who hath desire, sothly for to seyn, Of verray kny3thod remembre ageyn The worthynes, 3if I schal not lye, And the prowesse of olde chiualrie, By-cause he hath loye and gret deynte To rede in bokys of antiquitie, To fyn only, vertu for to swe By example of hem, and also for to eschewe The cursyd vice of slouthe and ydelnesse.8

A striking example of indictment of contemporary knighthood by praising

34 Arthur of England ancient heroes can be seen in the ending of Caxton's The Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry. Caxton bitterly takes his contemporaries to task: 'O ye knyghtes of Englond where is the custome and vsage of noble chyualry that was vsed in tho dayes / what do ye now / but go to the baynes & playe att dyse . . . Alias what doo ye / but slepe & take ease / and ar al disordred fro chyualry.'9 He commands them to look back at 'that noble kyng of Brytayne kyng Arthur with al the noble kny3tes of the round table / whos noble actes & noble chyualry of his knyghtes / occupye so many large volumes,' and he continues, 'rede the noble volumes of saynt graal of lancelot / of galaad / of Trystram / of perse forest / of percyual / of gawayn / & many mo / There shalle ye see manhode / curtosye & gentylnesse' (122). Here Caxton takes the Round Table as an exemplar of chivalric practice and a model for contemporary knights to follow. This is important, for if Caxton is to be believed, at the end of the fifteenth century Arthur was considered a leader of chivalry as well as a figure of political and historical importance. A medieval knight acquired a knowledge of chivalric theory in many ways, but a brief survey of the different sources of such instruction will quickly show that King Arthur and his knights played no more than a minor role in those books that taught knights what chivalry meant. It was not until it came to putting the code into practice that the importance of Arthur and his Round Table knights became evident. Handbooks of chivalry were the most direct source of instruction in the code's theory. The early and very popular Catalan manual by Ramon Lull, Le Libre del Orde de Cauayleria, written about 1280 and quickly circulated throughout Europe in Latin and French versions, Bonet's Arbre des Batailles (1387), Gilbert of the Haye's translation of Lull in 1456, William Worcester's The Boke of Noblesse, written sometime before 1461 and revised in 1475, Caxton's version of Lull's work, published in 1484 under the title of The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry, and Stephen H awes' The Pastime of Pleasure, published early in the sixteenth century, are well-known chivalric manuals. Each has its own perception of chivalry. Lull and his translators stress the religious side of chivalry. For them, the knight, who must be a man of moral excellence, fills an honourable office. His order was ordained by God and his faith should be paramount. He follows the teachings of the church, and all his weapons and armour acquire detailed theological values. The Boke of Noblesse, in contrast, cares little for the religious side of chivalry. Its concern is with illustrious deeds and the desire to stir contemporary knighthood to patriotic action against France. Bonet's book is different again. Rejecting as senseless the individual

35 Arthur and Chivalry heroics practised by knights in battle, Bonet writes a practical manual advocating reform in military practices. Finally, Hawes follows yet another path. Using the form of an allegorical romance, he describes the education of an ideal knight for the benefit of new noblemen, unsure of the aristocratic values they ought to espouse. He mentions Arthur briefly only in the context of the Nine Worthies. Concerned as they are with practical questions as in Bonet or with philosophical principles as in Lull, the manuals have little use for the kind of chivalry associated with King Arthur and the Round Table. Nevertheless, they do not ignore it entirely. At the end of The Book of the Ordre ofChyualry, in a passage that is original with him, Caxton, as we have seen, uses Arthur as an example of a chivalric hero from ancient times to rebuke the nobility of his own day for the decline in contemporary chivalry. Except for the seven lines in Hawes just referred to, the only other reference to Arthur in the chivalric manuals cited above occurs in The Boke of Noblesse. Trying to create patriotic enthusiasm for war with France, the author of The Boke recalls all the ancestral glories of the English nation from its beginning in the ancient blood of Troy down through all the triumphs of the Saxons, Danes, Normans, and Angevins.10 For this reason, as well as modern heroes such as William the Conqueror, Henry i, Richard i, Edward in, and Henry v and ancient heroes such as Hector of Troy, Agamemnon, Ulysses, and Hercules, we also meet 'for an example and witnes of king Arthur, whiche discomfit and sleine was undre his banere the Emperoure of Rome in bataile and conquerid the gret part of the regions be west of Rome' (9). As well as the chivalric manuals, knights also studied military handbooks. Based to a large extent on classical Roman military treatises and therefore too much out of date to have practical value for the late Middle Ages, they do have an importance because of the effect they had on the attitudes of the nobles. Among the more important medieval military manuals are Christine de Pisan's Le Livre des Faits d'Armes et de Chevaine, written in 1408-9 and heavily indebted to the fourth-century Instituía Reí Militaris of Vegetius, Nicholas Upton's De Studio Militari, written in the mid-fifteenth century and translated into English about 1500 by John Blount, Jean de Bueil's Le Jouvencal, also written in the middle of the fifteenth century and so popular that it had gone through five editions by 1529, and William Caxton's The Book of Fay ties of Armes and of Chyualrye (1490), a translation of Christine's Le Livre des Faits. Even more pointedly than chivalric manuals, military textbooks ignore King Arthur. Caxton's The Book of Fay ties, for example, uses biblical and classical examples extensively for its illustrations and does not restrict

36 Arthur of England itself to just better-known figures such as Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar. It includes a host of minor people such as Scorylo the Dacian, Alexander the Epirote, and Memnon, king of Rhodes. Such a wide selection of classical examples makes the cursory inclusion of recent figures such as Charlemagne, Charles vi of France, or John, duke of Burgundy, even more obvious. Arthur's absence from this work is especially significant because Caxton's lists tend to be open-ended, so that Arthur's name could have been inserted easily if Caxton had thought it would increase the appeal or the effectiveness of his book.11 Of the manuals cited above, only Upton's De Studio Militari mentions Arthur. Talking of the law relating to duelling, Upton cites Arthur's duel with Frollo as a precedent for contemporary practices but changes the traditional details so that the incident better fits the fashions of his own day. Arthur and Frollo exchange oaths, 'the one that he had trewe tytle to calenge, The other lyke tytle to défende.'12 They ride 'apon goodly & swyft cowresers gorgegiusly trymmed & dekked' (18) and they fight because of an 'olde grutche' (n). Of course, a single citation such as this warrants no generalizations, but it is interesting even so to see that on this occasion Upton is appealing to Arthur as a historical figure, not as a person from romance or from chivalry. A third kind of instruction was available to the aristocracy in that works on statesmanship and works instructing kings in the way of good government usually defined nobility and the noble man. The Policraticus of John of Salisbury, completed in 1159, is such a work. But even though Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia had just achieved phenomenal popularity and blazoned Arthur's name across the land, John does not turn to the British king when he needs support for his principles. His illustrations come largely from biblical or classical sources, while his precepts derive from the early church fathers and classical philosophers. If John has a secular hero, it is Alexander. Occasionally we meet contemporary examples such as Rufus, Henry i, and Henry n, but John's only citation from early British history is his reference to the campaign of Brennus, who is traditionally supposed to have sprung 'de maiori Britannia.'13 At the other end of the Middle Ages is Castiglione's The Courtier. Published in 1528, it was translated into English by Sir Thomas Hoby in 1561 and had a second edition in 1588. The Courtier shows that by the sixteenth century chivalry as it was conventionally understood in the Middle Ages had passed away. When we are told that 'the principall and true profession of a Courtier ought to bee in feates of armes, the which above all I will have him to practise lively' and that he ought 'to bee skilfull

37 Arthur and Chivalry on those weapons that are used ordinarily among Gentlemen,'14 we see that some attention is still paid to the martial abilities of a gentleman, but, in Castiglione's opinion, for the man who has to make his way at court social and artistic skills are much more important. Such a man should 'not onely [have] a wit, and a comely shape of person and countenaunce, but also a certaine grace, and (as they say) a hewe, that shall make him at the first sight acceptable and loving unto who so beholdeth him' (33), but he should also be skilled in music, drawing, and painting and the art of conversation, have a knowledge of Latin and Greek, and at all times be a man of modesty, propriety, avoiding all things vulgar. By Castiglione's time, it is no longer martial chivalry that is being appealed to but the ideal of the gentlemanly courtier as depicted in the poetry of Spenser, Surrey, and Wyatt. The works so far considered taught chivalry by explaining its principles, often in a moral or religious context. But other kinds of reading that taught chivalry by example were also available to medieval nobles. Chronicles, biographies, and romances were full of heroes who could be emulated, and such works certainly influenced the nobility as much as the more formally didactic works. The part played by chronicles is small, because until the sixteenth century most of them are written by ecclesiastics who do not generally wish to laud the military and chivalric way of life. An important exception, however, is Froissart's chronicle, because its theme is neither history nor nationalism but the splendid deeds of chivalry itself, portrayed in all their elaborate colours. Froissart's concern, however, is restricted to the chivalrous deeds of the men of his own day, and these supply enough models for his readers to emulate. With no message to teach and with no cause to espouse, he has no need to cite illustrative examples from the past. Even historical references used as similes are few and far between. Consequently, when Froissart does mention Arthur it is only in a casual offhand way, such as 'then they took counsel that Sir Charles de Blois should go from that seige [of Hennebont in 1342] and give assault to the castle of Auray, the which King Arthur made.'15 Though in some senses Froissart provides perfect models for chivalric emulation, he is not significant for his use of Arthurian material. Biographies of chivalric heroes were popular in the Middle Ages, and they, too, must have furnished inspiration for knights wanting to do deeds of chivalry. Barnie argues that every age has one outstanding figure who symbolizes its ideals of chivalry. For the Middle Ages he chooses Henry of Grosmont, the first duke of Lancaster.16 But others such as the Black Prince, the Chevalier Bayard, and Don Pero Nino, count of Buelna, would

38 Arthur of England be equally suitable. One would not expect the world of pure romance to intrude very much into these exaggerated but at least semi-authentic biographies, since the subjects of the biographies were themselves romancelike beings and so much larger than life. Occasionally, however, romance or historical figures are referred to; for example, Diaz lists Joshua, King David, Judas Maccabaeus, Godfrey of Bouillon, Charles Martel, Charlemagne, Count Fernán Gonzalez, Cid Ruy Diaz, and Don Ferdinand the Chaste as people from the past who ought to inspire his contemporaries, and the Chandos Herald compares a small group of English knights in the campaign before the Battle of Najera to Oliver or Roland.17 There are only two brief Arthurian references in the Chandos Herald's history. The first comes when the author tells us the purpose of his book: 'I wish to set my intent on writing and recording the life of the most valiant prince of this world, throughout its compass, that ever was since the days of Claris, Julius Caesar, or Arthur, as you shall hear, if so be that you listen with good will' (136). It is either Arthur's military prowess or his inclusion among the Nine Worthies that is appealed to here, not his role as a hero of romance. The other reference depends on the reputation for splendid display that belonged to Arthur's court. When the Black Prince returned to England after his victory at Poitiers, Chandos tells us that there 'was dancing, hunting, hawking, feasting, and jousting, as in the reign of Arthur, the space of four years or more' (148). Pero Nino's biography mentions Merlin. Nino was told as a boy to 'take heed that you give no credence to false prophecies, like those of Merlin and the rest' (22). Nevertheless, he concedes that Merlin 'was a good man and very learned. He was not the child of the devil, as some say' (23). An examination of the books that taught medieval knights about chivalry has revealed few references to Arthur or his companions. Biblical and classical citations predominate in these works. Clearly, for the writers that we have just looked at Arthur has no special or immediate appeal. When he is held up for comparison in some traditional area, or even used untraditionally as a precedent for the practice of duelling, he seems to be no more than a name. No author shows pride in Arthur's British pedigree, nor is there any commitment to asserting his historical reality. Arthur's impact on medieval theories of chivalry seems almost negligible. For the medieval knight, however, the practice of chivalry was probably more important than learning about its theory. Ideally, war should have provided an arena for demonstrations of the martial side of chivalry, but practical considerations usually prevented this. A major problem, in fact,

39 Arthur and Chivalry for those who praise medieval chivalry today is the recognition that the very knights who so enthusiastically advocated the principles of chivalry perpetrated the most brutal atrocities in actual warfare.18 The knight, therefore, had to look elsewhere for a chance to display his chivalric qualities. That is why tournaments played such a large role in the lives of many knights in the Middle Ages.19 Until the fourteenth century, tournaments were not popular in England. The church opposed them from the outset and did not lift its ban until 1316. Virtually nothing is known of them in Stephen's reign, while in Henry n's they were still sufficiently foreign for the term to require explanation.20 Henry took little interest in them and never personally participated but, even though he usually banned them in England, he did allow them in his French domains.21 It was not until 1272 when Edward i came to the throne that tournaments began to receive unqualified royal support. Denholm-Young claims that Edward's reign was probably the golden age for tournaments in England and that it is only the indifference of the chancery and of monkish chroniclers in recording them that limits our knowledge of them today.22 Among the tournaments of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there flourished a special kind known as 'round tables,' which were clearly differentiated from ordinary tournaments in that they were better regulated.23 Perhaps it was the wish on the part of some knights to have more carefully controlled encounters that prompted an appeal to the perceived ideas of Arthurian chivalry, for there can be no doubt that this is where the name 'round table' came from.24 The term may have covered occasions that were more than just tournaments, and it may be that a round table was more of a social event with feasting and dancing, where the jousting was only one of many entertainments.25 Cripps-Day, Loomis, and Cline have all discussed the form that the jousting took at round table tournaments.26 While each isolates different features, they all agree on the following essentials: the jousts took place on a circular field, the weapons used were the blunted arms of courtesy, and the participants frequently impersonated the heroes of Arthur's Round Table or at least carried their heraldic devices. The first reference to a round table or rotunda tabula in England is dated July 1232, when Henry in prohibited one being held while he was absent on a Welsh expedition.27 In 1252 we have the round table at Walden; it is this event that Matthew Paris distinguishes from a regular tournament and it is the first at which something of the manner of fighting is indicated.28 We are told that a certain Arnold de Muntinni, a knight of the royal

40 Arthur of England household, was hit with a sharp spear by Roger de Leyburne, and killed. Roger was not using an appropriately blunted spear as he should have been. The next round table of importance is the one held by Roger Mortimer at Kenilworth Castle in 1279. It was a memorable occasion, for the king was there and he knighted three of Mortimer's sons while Mortimer himself won the prize of a golden lion. Among the guests were a hundred ladies, the first occasion of this kind that ladies are known for certain to have attended. Another round table was held at Warwick in 1281 and another in 1284 in Nevin near Snowdonia to celebrate Edward's conquest of Wales. The latter certainly had ladies at it, because the festivities included dancing in an upper chamber. The floor of this room collapsed, throwing everyone to the ground below. All these events lead up to Edward i's most famous round table, held at court to celebrate his marriage to Margaret of France in 1299. It was an elaborate Arthurian masquerade with many of the traditional characters impersonated and with Edward himself playing the part of King Arthur.29 The last round table given by Edward i was at Falkirk in 1302 to celebrate a victory over the Scots at that place four years before. Roger Mortimer gave two round tables in 1328, one at Wigmore and another at Bedford, but the most important occasions in the middle of the fourteenth century are those associated with the king himself. The first is the tournament held at Dunstable in 1334, where, Juliet Vale tells us, a certain knight called Lyonel fought with arms identical with those of Edward in. Vale concludes that Lyonel 'was clearly none other than the king himself, participating incognito in the manner of the best Arthurian heroes.'30 The most splendid round table of all, however, and incidentally the last in England, was that given by Edward in at Windsor in 1344. Imitating King Arthur, the supposed founder of Windsor, Edward displayed lavish hospitality. He sent invitations to Burgundy, Hainault, Scotland, Flanders, Brabant, and Germany, and at the celebrations there were two kings, two queens, the prince of Wales, the duke of Cornwall, ten earls, and nine countesses. Beginning with a banquet on Sunday, 18 January 1344, the king continued with three days' jousting in brilliant tournament, amid melodies of love and war warbled in the presence of ladies fair and valorous knights by the minstrels. Edward joined in the jousts himself. On the fifth day, the king took an oath to institute a round table modelled on that of King Arthur and began building an edifice some two hundred feet in diameter called the Round Table. He fashioned for it a circular table made out of

41 Arthur and Chivalry fifty-two oak trees, but he apparently quickly lost interest in it for the building was never finished.31 The mid-fourteenth-century surge of interest in Arthurian chivalry represents the peak of the cult in England. As Edward in grew older, he declined into senility; the war with France lost its impetus and there were no more great victories to fan the fervour of patriotism and chivalric endeavour; in the next century the country fell into the savagery of civil war and the atrocities associated with the Wars of the Roses. Not until the latter part of the fifteenth century was there again a place in England for the glamour of the tournament. When the tournaments occurred again on a large scale in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,32 they were very different in nature and in purpose. The style of fighting had changed; the introduction of the tilt effectively kept the two opponents separated so that there was no danger of collision, while the increased angle of incidence at which the knights approached each other made it likely that lances would break rather than pierce an opponent's armour. Tournaments had lost any potential as mortal conflicts and became instead lavish spectacles. For the nobles, each one trying to outshine his rivals, the blatant waste of material things and the consequent calling of people's attention to the wealth of a man who could afford to be so profligate was felt to be the essence of nobility.33 For the king, the tournament played a significant part in the conscious cultivation of magnificence as part of state policy. Not only was display expected of a ruler by virtue of his rank, but magnificence became a political tool of some consequence. It enhanced and marked great occasions; it provided a means of commentary on international situations; it called attention in a singularly blatant way to a court's wealth and power.34 There were many splendid tournaments in England in the fifteenth century.35 Arthur's part in them was small, although he and his court were considered to be the conventional standard for imitation, as is shown by the comment of one of the Spanish ambassadors who watched the combats in the summer of 1510. He wrote that two days of every week were devoted to tournaments, which had been instituted in imitation of Amadis and Lancelot and other knights of olden times.36 Even more direct evidence of Arthur's stature is provided by two short poems of unknown authorship written to describe jousts held in May and June in 1507. The June poem begins: For as moche as yonge folke can not deuyse To passe tyme in more noble excersyse

42 Arthur of England Than in the auntyent knyghtes practyse of dayes olde. That were in tyme of Arthur kynge mooste bolde That this realme than named Brytayne dyde holde Of whose rounde table and noble housholde Were knyghtes good.37

In Scotland we have a yet more positive statement about the influence of Arthurian chivalry. In 1509 James iv held a tournament 'remembreng of King Arthuris Knychts, and thair forme desyreng to follow quha war knychtes of the round table, that tyme he wald be called a knycht of King Arthuris brocht vp in the wodis.'38 He himself took on the role of 'the wyld knycht' and he was accounted 'vaileyannt in arméis.' Lastly, though not directly relevant to tournaments in Britain, a quotation from an Englishman about the festivities held in Bruges in 1468 to celebrate the marriage of Margaret, the sister of Edward iv, to the duke of Burgundy has some interest here. John Paston, who was visiting Bruges, wrote to his mother and said: 'And as for the Dwkys coort, as of lords, ladys, and gentylwomen, knyts, sqwyers, and gentylmen, I hert never of non lyek to it, save Kyng Artourys cort.'39 In medieval tournaments, fanciful and exotic costumes very early began to be the usual form of dress. Some fourteenth-century instances of such dressing-up are knights appearing as Tartars in 1331, as the pope and his twelve cardinals in 1343, as the mayor of London and his aldermen in 1359, as the Seven Deadly Sins in 1362, and as monks in I394.40 For participants casting about as widely as this for novel ideas, the court of King Arthur would naturally come to mind, but that court seemed to have no special significance in itself. Just as today at Hallowe'en we expect to find conventional ghosts and witches among the wide range of children's costumes, so Arthur's knights regularly appeared in medieval tournaments. But the desire to dress up in an unusual and striking way is the same driving impulse in each case. Such costuming in medieval tournaments was not an attempt to pay homage to a particular Arthurian ideal of chivalry from the past. We have to look elsewhere for significant Arthurian manifestations at this time. Some places where they do appear is in the disguisings about which the Tudors were passionate and the costumed allegorical shows that took place indoors at feasts and celebrations. In 1501, William Cornish created a disguising for the New Richmond Palace that took the form of

43 Arthur and Chivalry a huge canopied throne, two storeys high. On the upper level were eight ladies and at the bottom, eight men. The throne was fenestrated full of light and was accompanied by a protective convoy of mermaids and mermen in armour. One interpretation of the brightly lit island kingdom was to see it as the Celtic otherworld or the Isle of Glass, and thus as a representation of Avalon where Arthur was biding his time until his second coming.41 More productive of Arthurian examples are the various public displays put on to celebrate royal occasions. An early instance comes from the account in the Coventry Leet Book of an entertainment given to Queen Margaret in 1456. The Nine Worthies are depicted and each, vowing obedience, gives a speech of welcome. Arthur, who is not set off in any way from the other worthies, speaks sixth as follows: I, Arthur, kynge crownyd and conquerour, That yn this lande reyned right rially; With dedes of armes I slowe the emperowr; The tribute of this ryche reme I made downe to ly Ihit unto [you], lady, obey I mekely, As youre sure servande; plesur to your highnesse, For the most plesaunt princes mortal that es!42

The street pageants put on to entertain Henry vu on his provincial progress in 1486 also have Arthurian associations. At Worcester, for example, a character named Janitor asks, 'Quis est ille qui venit?' Having listed as possibilities Noah, Jason, Julius, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, and Scipio, Janitor finally identifies the approaching figure as: ... Arture, the very Britain Kyng. Welcome Defence to England as a Walle. Cadwaladers Blodde lynyally descending.43

In a similar vein was the theme of the celebrations to welcome Prince Arthur on his tour in 1498. The pageant at the Sponstrete gate in Coventry showed the Nine Worthies of whom King Arthur alone spoke: Hayle, prynce roiall, most amyable in sight! Whom the Court eternall, thurgh prwdent governaunce, Hath chosen to be egall ons to me in myght, To sprede our name, Arthur, and acts to avawnce. (116)

44 Arthur of England Another occasion is the London pageant of 1501, which welcomed Katherine of Aragon, Prince Arthur's bride. Described by Anglo as 'the supreme masterpiece of English civic pageantry,' it had as its principal allegorical theme the Arthur-Arcturus parallel. Unfortunately, it seems that much of the possible significance of the allegory would have been missed by the contemporary audience.44 Easier to understand was the pageant that greeted Katherine as she left the west door of St Paul's. This took the form of a huge mountain out of which grew three great trees, representing the realms united by the marriage. Beneath the tree on the right stood the king of France and beneath the one on the left the king of Spain. The tree in the centre bore red roses and shaded the red dragon of Cadwalader. In front of this middle tree stood King Arthur, his body emerging from the ship of England. Here we clearly have a variation on the theme of the Three Christian Worthies, with Arthur occupying the dominant central position. At the base of the pageant, a fountain flowing with wine recalled the Arthurian wellspring of England's past glory.45 Another public display with Arthurian associations was the royal entry into London in June 1522 to celebrate the visit of Charles v. There were nine pageants; the fifth showed King Arthur at the Round Table attended by all the noble princes under his sway. He was in full armour, wore a crown, and clasped a sword in his hand. The main reason for the inclusion of this pageant was to counterbalance an earlier one, which had shown Charles' descent from Charlemagne.46 The decorations in London in 1554 that welcomed Mary's husband, King Philip of Spain, included a painting of the Nine Worthies on the conduit of Gracious Street.47 Three years later at a May Day celebration in London we hear of'a joly may gam in Fanchurch strett, with drumes and gunes and pykes, and the 9 Wordes dyd ryd and thay had speches evereman.'48 Some twenty years after this, Robert Laneham's Letter gives us an account of the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth. She entered the inner gate of the castle court, 'where the Lady of the Lake (famous in king Arthurz book) with too Nymphes waiting vppon her, arrayed all in sylks, attending her highness comming: from the midst of the Pool,... met her Maiesty with a well penned meter and matter.'49 One of the more elaborate spectacles of the sixteenth century was the meeting of Henry vin of England with Francis i of France in June 1520 in a vale between the village of Guiñes in the English 'pale' of Calais and the village of Ardres in France. This was the Field of Cloth of Gold. The assembly was huge with an English contingent of more than six thousand. Both kings tried to outshine the other in magnificence, and the lavish expenditure on buildings, food, costumes, and entertainment was extravagant

45 Arthur and Chivalry beyond measure. For the elaborately staged tournament in which both kings took part, the preparations were meticulous in detail and overwhelming in material. For example, on the first day of the tournament the French king's horse was barded in purple satin, broched with gold, and embroidered with black ravens' feathers.50 For the actual combat one thousand Milan swords, six hundred two-handed swords, one hundred heavy swords, and five hundred other swords were purchased.51 Arthur was part of the pageantry of this occasion in a modest way. Entrance to the theatre was through an outer gateway, then a vestibule leading to an inner gateway. The central figure depicted on the outer gate was King Arthur holding a Round Table, and at his feet were his arms of three golden crowns. Beneath the king were the words: Moy Artus roy chef de la table ronde Principal chef de tous cueurs vallereux Vueil recevoir de volunte parfonde Tous nobles cueurs par effect vertueux Princes puissans preux et audacieux Aymans honneur soubz vostre seigneurie Suyvex mes faitz et ma chevalierie.52

The verse appeals to both monarchs to rule with honour and to fulfil the chivalric ideal. Arthur does not represent England on this occasion, but stands instead for international chivalry. Arthur appeared again on the final day of celebrations. Henry and his retinue rode in masque costume to dine with the French queen, and the king's companions took the parts of the Nine Worthies. Perhaps significantly, Henry did not adopt the role of Arthur but appeared instead as Hercules, a symbol of heroic virtue.53 Another Arthurian reference connected with this occasion is much slighter. The covered way from the castle of Guiñes to the 'palace' that the English built was so intricate that one French eyewitness compared it to 'le Chateau de Dedalus ou le jardin de Morgue la Fée du temps des Chevaliers errans.'54 On the way home from Guiñes, Henry met the emperor at Calais and a temporary banqueting pavilion was erected. It was entered by way of an avenue decorated with royal statues, the last of which was of King Arthur. On one side of him was a statue of an English soldier with the motto 'Amicus fidelis est alter ego,' and on the other, a statue of Hercules with the imperial insignia and the motto 'Fidelis amicus protectio fortis.'55 Chivalry took on yet another form after the middle of the fourteenth

46 Arthur of England century. This was the time when the chivalric orders grew and flourished all over Europe, there being at least fifteen between the founding of the Order of the Garter in 1348 and the creation of the Order of Saint-Michel in I4Ó9.56 One might think that the Round Table, considered to be the greatest example of a chivalric order in history, would have been the natural model to follow for any ruler who wished to found his own order of chivalry. Such indeed seemed to have been the case, because the first evidence for the founding of a secular chivalric order is Edward ill's proposal at a feast at Windsor Castle in 1344 to found an Order of the Round Table. Yet the actual order that Edward went on to create in 1348, the Order of the Garter, was very different and had no associations with Arthur whatsoever.57 Nor did the other two major orders that appeared in Europe in the fifteenth century. René of Anjou's Croissant, which was founded in August 1448, turned to the Turkish crescent for its emblem, while Philip the Good's Toison d'Or, founded in January 1430, looked to the story of Jason and the Argonauts for its model of knight-errantry.58 It is ironic that to find an English society devoted to preserving Arthur's name we have to turn to a pamphlet published in 1583 by Richard Robinson entitled: The Ancient Order, Societie and Vnitie Laudable of Prince Arthur and his knightly Armorie of the Round Table; with a Threefold Assertion, frendly in fauour and furtherance of English Archery at this day.' In the pamphlet the members of the society assume the names of knights of the Round table; after a brief outline of heraldry there is a display of escutcheons. The name of one of Arthur's knights appears over each of the fifty-eight escutcheons and in most cases the initials of a society member stand on the left or right.59 Medieval coats of arms comprised yet another aspect of chivalry. Such devices did more than identify a knight; they proclaimed something of his lineage, too. It is for this reason that Henry vu made a coat quartering England, France, Brutus, Belinus, Arthur, Swain, Edward the Confessor, and William the Conqueror.60 The new Tudor monarch was claiming every heritage he could in order to legitimize his possession of the English throne. A similar design, probably for the same reason, was made for Elizabeth. Published by John Norden in his survey of Hertfordshire in 1598 and used as the royal coat of arms in the church at Preston in Suffolk, its fourth quarter represents the British kings Brutus, Belinus, Arthur, and Arviragus.61 These devices, of course, are making their appeal to the supposed historical Arthur. More interesting coats of arms are the mythical ones attributed to King Arthur himself or to his knights in places other than romances. They appear, for example, worked into tapestries depicting Arthurian

47 Arthur and Chivalry subjects, an example being a French tapestry at Winchester College, which may have been commissioned in connection with the birth of Prince Arthur in i486.62 More commonly, from the late thirteenth century onwards, they are found in such places as heralds' rolls, which are lists of arms with names attached to refresh a herald's memory and are often designed to glorify a patron by introducing fictional forebears.63 The late thirteenthcentury herald's roll that may have once belonged to Eleanor of Castile is an example of a roll praising a patron. It has a shield captioned 'Sire Gawyn Mautrevers,' thus linking the hero of romance with the Maltravers family.64 Arthur has two different coats of arms. When he is depicted, as he so often is, as one of the Nine Worthies, his arms are three golden crowns on a blue (sometimes red) field. English examples are in the north window of the antechapel of All Souls College, Oxford, and in the window of St Mary's Hall in Coventry.65 The historical Arthur, however, who goes back to Geoffrey of Monmouth, is associated with the Virgin Mary. Thus, according to the Tractatus de Armis of Bado Áureo, written at the request of Queen Anne and completed about 1394 or 1395, Arthur's device was 'a Cross argent on a green field with the Virgin Mary and Child in the first quarter.'66 According to Froissart, Lord John de Clermont met Sir John Chandos on a day of truce and when each noticed that the other wore a figure of Mary on his surcoat, each fell to disputing with the other who had the better right to wear it. It is possible that both had independently followed King Arthur's example in the romances. As a kind of footnote to this discussion we should note one final set of arms given to Arthur. In the late thirteenth-century manuscript K of The Second Continuation of the Old French Perceval of Chrétien de Troy es, Arthur's shield has 'three leopards passant or.' Brault believes that the inventor of these arms was trying to flatter Edward i by linking him in this way to his fabled ancestor.67 Because they throw light on the tastes of the nobility, we shall conclude this chapter by looking at some appearances of Arthurian motifs in certain works of art even though they are not directly connected with chivalry.68 The tiles that once made up the floor of Chertsey Abbey are early English depictions of Arthurian themes. Designed for Henry in somewhere between 1255 and 1265, probably by Master William, the king's favourite painter of the day,69 they depict scenes from the Tristan story. Many tapestries had Arthurian subjects. Most examples listed in Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art are continental, but one showing a battle between Gamlayn (Gauvain?) and Lancelot was owned by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, in I397-70 Vale tells us that the ewer Philippa gave to Edward in as a New

48 Arthur of England Year's gift in 1333 had many figures carved on it, one of which was a depiction of Arthur.71 Also, among the jewels lent by Henry of Derby to the king in 1340 to secure a loan was a gold statue of Tristan and Iseult.72 We find Arthur as one of a group of glorious English kings standing in a window of St Mary's Hall, Coventry. This window may have been made just before or after Henry vi's visit to the city in 1451.73 Arthur can also be found in the north window of the antechapel of All Souls, Oxford. In addition, he appeared as a wall painting in the hall of Henry vn's new palace. In the spaces between the high windows on either side of the great hall were 'pictures of the noble kings of this realm in their harness and robes of gold as Brute, Hengist, King William, Rufus, King Arthur, King Edward (and of those names many noble warriors), and kings of this royal realm with their falchions and swords in their hands, visaged and appearing like bold and valiant knights.'74 The two lines of wall portraits led to Henry's throne at the end of the hall, where the kings were paying homage to Henry, who appeared, not as a traditional king dispensing justice, but as a rex magnifions, a chivalric prince.75 In conclusion, when the facts are examined, it turns out that medieval chivalry in England has far less to do with King Arthur than a person who approaches the Middle Ages through its vernacular literature might have expected. Arthur plays no part in the theory of chivalry, which is more solidly founded on the Bible and the classics, and it is only in the tournaments and other events of spectacular public display that he finds any significant place. Yet even here his presence is not dominant, when the whole field is considered. Articles such as 'Chivalric and Dramatic Imitations of Arthurian Romance,' by Roger S. Loomis, The Influence of Romances on Tournaments in the Middle Ages,' by Ruth Cline, and 'Tourneys in the Arthurian Tradition,' by Edouard Sandoz, legitimately concentrate on their single narrow theme of Arthur, but in doing so they tend to throw a distorted light on the larger picture of medieval tournaments. The truth of the matter is that for the most part Arthur's place in medieval days was as a historical figure (for those who believed) and as a character in romance fiction. He was not the daily model of chivalry that the romances of the time might have led us to believe.


Arthur and the Common Folk


l Y LOOKING AT THE BOOKS read by the nobility in the medieva and Renaissance period and by considering what chivalry meant to them in both theory and practice, we have gained some idea of how they viewed King Arthur and the Round Table. Similarly, a study of the books that they wrote and read has revealed something of what the learned people, especially those in regular orders, thought of King Arthur. When it comes to the common folk, however, the situation is very different. Illiterate, ignorant, and leaving few records behind him, the medieval English peasant long ago passed silently away. Discovering what he thought and believed about King Arthur is a much more difficult task. One rare piece of explicit evidence is a story associated with the canons of Laon, which highlights very dramatically the popular feeling about Arthur that was held in one area of Britain early in the twelfth century. After their church had been burnt down in 1112, a company of monks from Laon travelled widely with sacred relics of the Virgin, trying to raise funds for a new building. They came to Britain in 1113 and, after passing through Danavexeria (Devonshire) and seeing Arthur's Chair and Oven, they reached Bodmin. There, by a miracle, a girl named Kenehellis, blind from birth, gained her sight and a deaf man got his hearing. But a miracle of another kind marked this visit, too. A man with a paralysed hand stood watching the reliquary, but as he did so be began to quarrel with Haganellus, one of its guardians. The paralysed man claimed that Arthur was still alive, but one of the monks denied this. A brawl broke out; a crowd armed with weapons burst into the church and blood would have been shed if Algardus, another monk, had not intervened. As a punishment for this outrage, we are told, the Virgin refused to grant the miraculous cure that the man had sought.1 While there must have been more to this incident than appears

5O Arthur of England on the surface, national, racial, or anti-clerical feelings perhaps, nevertheless it does give us proof that Arthur's existence was so passionately believed in that it could trigger off a near riot. Direct evidence of this kind is invaluable but unfortunately all too rare. For the most part, when seeking the beliefs of ordinary people we will have to work in a more roundabout way. The Middle Ages was an era devoted to religious relics. Whether we think of the more celebrated items of this time, such as St Peter's vest, for which King Edward in paid one hundred shillings in 1363, Our Lady's milk, which was shown to pilgrims at Walsingham, or the piece of John the Baptist's head that the citizens of Amiens acquired in 1206, or whether we think of some of the notable private collections, such as that of King Charles of France, which included blood from Christ's body as it hung on the cross and also a piece of the true cross,2 or whether we think merely of the thousands of lesser items owned by countless churches and individuals throughout Europe, it is clear that the people of the Middle Ages venerated relics of all kinds and wanted to own them. Nor were they interested only in religious objects. The Duc de Berry, for example, had 'among his curios narwhals'teeth, boars'tusks, stag-beetles' horns, porcupines' quills, snakes' jaws, a cup made of an ostrich egg and a molar-tooth of a giant.'3 Other curiosities and relics of a more humble kind were scattered all across the whole British countryside. For example, Hector Boece, writing about 1540, claims on the evidence of personal observation that 'In Murray Land is the Kirke of Pette, quhare the banis of Lytill Johne remains in gret admirationn of pepill.'4 According to Leland in his Collectanea, the grave of Robin Hood lies at Kirklees, while Grafton says that a stone set up after the outlaw's death by the prioress is still shown to visitors.5 Guy of Warwick, a popular hero of English romance, also had many places and artefacts associated with his memory. A letter written in 1642 by Nehemiah Wharton, an officer in the Parliamentary Army, indicates that his cave, his chapel, his stables hewn out of rock, his garden, and two springing wells continued to be visited by the curious as late as the seventeenth century.6 Guy's sword and armour were preserved in Warwick Castle in the charge of a custodian appointed by royal patent, and we know the names of four of these from the sixteenth century.7 If possession by Guy was not in itself enough to make his sword fabulous, there was even a tradition that claimed that the same sword had once belonged to Hector of Troy.8 Another tradition associated with relics in Warwick Castle is that recorded at the end of the fifteenth century by John Rous, the chantry priest of Guy's Cliffe. According to Rous, Rohaudus, the first Saxon earl

51 Arthur and the Common Folk of Warwick and ancestor of the later earls, was descended from Eneas, the knight of the swan. After summarizing the Swan Knight legend and mentioning Mattabrune, the wicked grandmother, Rous said that the earl of Warwick possessed a cup made from the gold collars and chains of the swans. Rous claims that he himself had drunk the best wine of Warwick Castle from this cup. The 'cup of the swan' had been bequeathed by Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, to his son in his will dated i April I400.9 Inevitably in this pursuit of objects of curiosity, much that was associated in some way with King Arthur or his knights was collected. In some cases these were portable material objects, in others they were places or terrain to which fabulous stories were attached. In the Mirabilia of Nennius we find the earliest records of Arthurian objects. The topmost stone of a cairn in Breconshire, he claimed, bore a footprint made by Arthur's dog, Cabal, and its marvel was that though men carried it away for a day and a night the next day it was back on the top of its pile. Nennius also tells the tale of the marvellous tomb of Arthur's son found at Licat Amr (the Gamber in Herefordshire), which was forever changing its dimensions.10 Despite the seemingly precise locations offered by Nennius for these objects and, in the case of the second one, his assurances that he had personally seen the tomb, we are clearly dealing in both cases with the magic of folktale; we may be absolutely sure that these objects, at least in the form and with the properties that Nennius described, never existed. The grave of Gawain is one of the earliest monuments claiming to be from Arthur's time that has some real object associated with it. William of Malmesbury, writing early in the twelfth century, tells us that in 1087 the sepulchre of Gawain was found on the sea-coast of the Welsh province of Ros. It was fourteen feet long (262). According to Barber, this grave still exists today as Walwyn's Castle, near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.11 Leland knew this story in the sixteenth century, for he quotes it at length and attributes it to William, but he is clearly sceptical about its truth for, as he says, men were not so tall in Gawain's day. Accordingly, while he does not deny that some grave exists, he thinks that 'it is more credible that it was the graue of some Gyant inhabitinge the countrie' (30). Because he firmly believed in a historical Arthur and wanted to retain the king's credibility, Leland felt obliged to reject the physical possibility of a fourteen-foot-tall Gawain. What he ought to have recognized was that already by William's day Arthur had become in part a creature of fable and that this larger-than-life figure came from that same fanciful world that gives us other marvellous characters such as those we find in Culhwych and Olwen.

52 Arthur of England It is a testimony to Gawain's popularity and the drawing power of his relics that his bones were claimed to exist in at least two other places besides Wales. Even though he could not accept the Milford Haven grave as Gawain's, Leland did believe in another burial place for this most famous of all Arthur's knights. When Arthur returned from the continent to put down Mordred's rebellion, he landed at Dorchester, according to Leland, and after the battle Gawain was buried there in 'a certaine Chappell' (29). Leland tells us that his bones were still on display there in his own day. This statement of course conflicts with the tradition, recorded by Malory, that King Arthur landed at Dover and fought Mordred there, and that therefore it was at Dover that Gawain was killed and buried after the battle 'in a chapell within Dover castell. And there yet all men may se the skulle of hym.'12 Chester's Love's Martyr (35) tells us it was still in Dover in 1601. That we know today that all these claims were false is beside the point. In these assertions that different places held the bones of Gawain lies the testimony to a strong medieval belief in him, as well as to a curiosity of mind that would attract visitors to these places to see the relics. The desire to attract visitors and their money almost certainly lies behind claims of the existence of other Arthurian artefacts. Craddock's mantle, mentioned by Caxton in his preface to Malory and repeated by Chester in Love's Martyr, and Lancelot's sword, also cited by Caxton, are probably two such relics. Guenevere's grave, supposedly at Meigle, is a less clear case. The tradition recorded by Boece, that after Arthur's last battle with Mordred the Picts seized Guenevere and carried her off, would explain how she came to be in Scotland, but Archdeacon Sinclair's comment in 1560 that what the monument showed was a goddess in a cart with two horses pulling her may be a better interpretation of the stone sculpture, if only because it was made three hundred years earlier than the nineteenthcentury opinion of Stuart Glennie, who probably saw too readily what he wanted to see.13 Another relic first referred to in the fifteenth century by Caxon is Arthur's seal at the shrine of St Edward in Westminster Abbey. There is no doubt that this seal existed; Leland went to see it, handled it, and gave a lengthy description of it. He tells us that it was made of red wax, crazed and cracked through accident or age, with an inscription and a portrait of heroic majesty. The whole was protected by a frame of silver plate, a solid back, and a circle of crystal over the front.14 In Leland's opinion, this seal was the most certain proof that Arthur had lived.15 Who made the seal and for what purpose is not known, but its presence in Westminster Abbey associated

53 Arthur and the Common Folk with a shrine tempts one to suggest an effort to pass it off as some kind of pseudo-religious relic. Three other Arthurian relics move us much more certainly into the area of religious relics, in that they were owned by churches or had obvious religious associations. The first of these is Iseult's robe. In his twelfth-century narrative of the story of Tristan, Beroul relates that after her reconciliation with Mark, Iseult went to the church of St Samson and presented a thankoffering, a robe of rich silken cloth embroidered with silk and gold thread.16 The cloth was subsequently made into a chasuble and displayed annually at the church. Though he does not claim to have seen it himself, Beroul reports that others have, and thus he seems to be vouching to his audience for the authenticity of the garment. Ewart accepts that Beroul may have invented the whole story, but he is also ready to believe that the popularity of the Tristan legend and its localization in Cornwall had led the church to identify the chasuble with one of the relics it already had in its possession.17 If the latter is true, the act of the church shows two things. First, there must have been an interest in and curiosity about things Arthurian that would attract people to a church where a supposedly authentic relic from Arthur's time could be seen. Secondly, it shows that the church was willing to exploit this curiosity unscrupulously and to turn it to its own advantage, just as it had the exhumation of Arthur's body at Glastonbury. One of the lesser-known Arthurian relics is a crystal cross supposedly donated to the abbey of Glastonbury by Arthur himself.18 There is no reason to assume that the abbey did not have a crystal cross, but again we have to suspect that its ascription to Arthur was designed to enhance the prestige of the abbey and, more important, to attract the curious and their money. Finally, a thirteenth-century marginal note in a manuscript of Nennius suggests another piece of religious trickery. There we learn that Arthur brought back from the Holy Land an image of the Virgin, which he carried on his shoulders at the victory of Castellum Guinion, and that fragments of this image had been preserved and were kept in great veneration at Wedale.19 A later hand places Wedale six miles south of Melrose. Leland repeats this story in the sixteenth century. Other Arthurian relics of quite a different kind also existed. This second type, for the most part, have a political motivation, and so probably do not reveal much about the ordinary Englishman's view of Arthur. The earliest of these relics is Caliburn, Arthur's sword. Benedict, the abbot of Peterborough, writing his Gestis Henrici II et Ricardi I at the end of the twelfth century, tells how Richard i, while passing through Sicily on his

54 Arthur of England way to the Holy Land, stopped at Catania to visit the shrine of St Agatha and, during his stay in the country, presented Arthur's sword to Tancred, the Sicilian king: 'Quarta die rex Siciliae dona multa et magna, in vasis aureis et argentéis, in equis et pannis seriéis obtulit régi Angliae : at hujuamodi non indigens, nihil eorum capere voluit praeter annulum parvulum quendam, quern in signum mutae dilectionis accepit. Rex autem Angliae dedit ei gladium optimum Arcturi, nobilis quondam régis Britonum, quern Britones vocaverunt Caliburnum.'20 No one knows the derivation of this sword, but Ditmas suggests that as it came so pat upon the discovery of Arthur's body at Glastonbury, the two events are probably related.21 Though no discovery of a sword was recorded in 1191, it could have been some ancient weapon sent by the monks as a fitting gift to a warrior king at the same time as they sent news of the finding of Arthur's body. If this explanation is correct, it is an example of a spurious relic being used for a political end, since the monks, disappointed in their expectation of funds to rebuild their burnt-down cathedral, might have been trying to win the new king's favour in this striking way. Whatever the facts of the matter may have been, the incident quickly became an accepted part of Arthurian lore; the story is repeated by Roger of Hovedon in his Chronica (c 1195), by Brother Walter of Coventry in his Memoriale (c 1293), and by Sir Thomas Gray in his Scalacronica (c I355).22 Even though King Arthur himself may or may not come again to Britain, it is a curiosity that his relics frequently return. So Arthur's sword turns up a second time more than two hundred years later. On this occasion it is among the personal baggage of Henry v at Agincourt. There, he apparently had a certain mysterious 'sword of King Arthur,' which he valued so highly that he kept it concealed among his most valued treasures.23 Yet another sword with Arthurian associations was in the possession of English royalty in early medieval times. Among the Patent Rolls for 1207 is a receipt for regalia that mentions 'duos enses, scilicet ensem Tristrami et alium ensem de eodem regali.'24 They were apparently kept by Peter de Roches, bishop of Winchester, for he attests the receipt and it was from him that Henry ill's treasurer in 1220 received the sword that supposedly once belonged to Tristan. Such a sword can only be explained as an item of prestige for the king to possess. It does not seem to be any kind of early precursor of Curtana, the sword without a point borne before the king at his coronation. Another well-known Arthurian shrine was the tomb before the high altar of Glastonbury Abbey. It was probably set up by Edward i in 1278 for political reasons, yet it, too, in all likelihood had its mercenary side, bringing pilgrims to the site in large numbers. At the end of the fifteenth century

55 Arthur and the Common Folk Caxton knew of it, and he cites it as one of his proofs that Arthur was a genuine historical figure. The stone pillars in the churchyard, which had indicated where the monks should dig to find Arthur's remains, continued to stand throughout the Middle Ages and became secondary objects of note in their own right. On his visit to Glastonbury in 1480, for example, William of Worcester called attention to them.25 The most famous relic associated with Arthur's grave, however, is the leaden cross, which was discovered attached to the under-surface of the coffin at the time of the exhumation. Twelfth-century accounts of the cross exist, and it, or some fraudulent copy of it, survived apparently until the eighteenth century. This is yet another relic that Leland claims to have seen and handled, but the best account of it appears in the sixth edition of Camden's Britannia (1607), which includes the drawing of it that has been so frequently reproduced in modern works on Arthur. The last Arthurian artefact associated with Edward i also has a political motivation behind it. This is Arthur's crown. In 1282, Llywelyn, the last native prince in Wales, rebelled against English rule. At the Welsh surrender the following year, Edward received certain national treasures, including Arthur's crown. On his return to London in 1285, Edward went in solemn procession to Westminster Abbey to lay this crown on the high altar. This action was intended to crush Welsh hopes of Arthur's return, as well as to symbolize Edward's sovereignty over Wales just as the removal of the coronation stone of Scone in 1296 was to symbolize his sovereignty over Scotland. Whatever the true origin of this crown, it did not stay in the abbey long, for it is not mentioned in the lists of relics made in 1467, 1479, and I52O.26 Edward i, who was well-known to be an Arthurian enthusiast, may have believed that this crown was genuinely Arthur's, but more likely he merely seized on the fiction because it served his immediate political purposes. That the charade was carried off and the crown deposited in the abbey does not necessarily mean, of course, that anyone believed it was what it was claimed to be, because no one was likely to contradict the king. There is, however, a tantalizing phrase in Rishanger's Chronica (written after Edward's death) and in the later texts of the Flores, which says that the crown was given to Edward 'cum aliis jocalibus.' The possible translation 'with other jesting articles' suggests a sceptical attitude on the part of some near-contemporary chroniclers at least.27 The most famous Arthurian relic and the only one that has survived to the present day is the Round Table at Winchester. A huge structure, some eighteen feet across and weighing more than six tons, it has an early history that is quite uncertain. It is traditionally associated with Edward

56 Arthur of England in and would seem to have an origin more in chivalry than in politics.28 If this dating is accepted, it further demonstrates an Arthurian cult at the king's court in the middle of the fourteenth century, but it does not tell us anything about the beliefs of the commoners. The table certainly existed in the fifteenth century because Caxton mentions it in his preface to Malory, and it also appears in an item in the Exchequer Rolls of 1516-17, which refers to repairs to the Hall and to the table. What we do know for certain about the table is that if it is indeed earlier than the late fifteenth century, then it did not look originally the way it does today but must have been simply a plain wooden table with no ornamentation.29 In that case, its only link to Arthur would be its shape. The references to a Round Table at Stirling in Froissart and William of Worcester are ambiguous but are more likely to refer to an order of chivalry than to a physical table. Two interesting facts have come to light from our look at certain objects associated with Arthur or his knights in the medieval and Renaissance periods. First, there are hardly any genuine folk relics of Arthur, that is, objects around which popular legends have grown up, with perhaps the single exception of Gawain's grave in Wales. All the objects we know of are deliberate fabrications, and therefore some people at least must have known them to be false. These Arthurian artefacts must reveal conscious attempts to prey upon peoples' credulity either for political ends or to collect money at shrines and museums. While this readiness to be deceived testifies to an uncritical curiosity in people - witness the same attitude today in the public response to sideshows at fairs - it is not evidence for any general widespread belief in King Arthur. Second, apart from the material associated with the royal court in either Winchester or London and the fortuitous appearance of the relics at Dover, which no doubt are the result of Malory's story of Gawain's death near that town, all the relics and remains are found in or come from the Celtic areas of Cornwall, Wales, or Scotland, or from parts of England close to them. The geographical distribution of the relics suggests that there was no widespread English belief or interest in Arthur among the commoners in medieval times. The only departure from this general statement about the distribution of Arthurian relics is the presence of Arthurian misericords in all parts of England. Misericords are not artefacts or relics in the proper sense but rather forms of art, yet they are closely connected with the tastes of ordinary people and 'reflect the minds of the men who made them,'30 and so may be legitimately discussed here. Anderson points out that misericord carving was a very humble form of medieval art and that it was highly unlikely that any distinguished carvers worked at it. The carvers did, however, enjoy

57 Arthur and the Common Folk a considerable measure of freedom in choice and execution of their designs. Many misericord subjects were taken from romances, sometimes without having been understood. Such subjects include a mermaid suckling a lion (Edlesborough, Bucks), a falling knight (Lincoln), the reunion of Valentine and Orson (Beverley), and the Swan Knight in his boat (Exeter).31 The story of Alexander borne into the heavens by hungry griffins, lured upwards by lumps of meat impaled on spears, was very popular, appearing at Wells, Gloucester, Beverley, Lincoln, Chester, and Darlington.32 This particular scene may have had an allegorical meaning, illustrating man's hunger for the beauty of heaven, which, if true, would explain its popularity in church settings.33 As many subjects for misericords come from the romances, it is not surprising that they include topics from Arthurian romances. We meet two. From the story of Ywain and Gawain, the incident of the portcullis falling and crushing the hero's horse appears six times, at Chester, Boston, Lincoln, Oxford (twice), and Enville, Staffordshire.34 Richmond thinks that the choice in each case of the identical moment in the story 'suggests the compelling interest of near disaster averted at the last possible moment, and the English preference for high excitement in knightly exploits,' but Anderson believes that some undiscovered allegorical moralization lies behind the choice.35 Anderson is more certain of allegorical meaning in the depiction of King Mark looking down at Tristan and Iseult from the foliage of the tree in which he is hiding. The choice of this moment by the carvers of the misericords implies that the church has taken over the meaning found in a French compilation of moralized stories where, just as the lovers, made aware of the presence of King Mark by seeing his reflection in a pool of water, kept their conversation innocent, so we, knowing that God sees all we do, should equally avoid sin.36 This motif is found at Chester and Lincoln, but in the latter case the king and queen have no crowns, showing that the carver had no notion of the literal story much less its alleged allegorical significance.37 We should perhaps see just as little significance in any of the other sporadic appearances of Arthurian subjects in medieval misericords. One suspects that they were merely part of a standard repertoire that carvers executed and that in them the carvers' only concern was to make the scenes vivid and lifelike. We might expect place-names to throw some light on the beliefs of the ordinary people in Britain about Arthur and his companions. Arthur's fame does not belong to those early years in the history of the British Isles when the rivers, mountains, and villages were given names for the first time. The places whose names show Arthurian influence belong to a later time of

58 Arthur of England naming and thus show something of the popularity of the British monarch. Many such names, however, are relatively modern and do not indicate medievel or Renaissance belief in King Arthur. Modern examples include: in Scotland, Ganore's Grave, the Stone of Arthur, Arthur's Fold (all near Dundee), Arthur's Seat in Forfar, Arthur's Fountain near Crawford, and Ben Arthur on Loch Long; in Wales, three places named Arthur's Table (in Breconshire, Merionethshire, and Anglesey), two named Arthur's Quoits (St David's and Llyn), Arthur's Cave, Arthur's Stone, Arthur's Round Table, Moel Arthur, Burdd Arthur, Maen Arthur, and Merlin's Grove; in Cornwall, Arthur's Grave, Arthur's Bed, Tredrustan, Carveddras, Tredmordret, Rose Modras, Mordred's Castle, Cadon Barrow; in other parts of England, Castle Hewin in Cumberland and Arthur's Stone in Hereford.38 Older Arthurian names came about in the same way as their more modern counterparts. They, too, are places that attracted Arthur's name to themselves because it was known; one is often left feeling that Arthur was no more than a generic appellation for every important person whose name memory failed to supply. Working backwards in time, we come first to a group known only from the sixteenth century or later. There is a henge near Penrith, almost three hundred feet in diameter, called King Arthur's Round Table. The name was recorded by Hutchinson in Excursion to the Lakes (1773), by Pennant in First Tour in Scotland (1769), and by Bishop Gibson in the 1695 edition of Camden's Britannia.39 Farther north, in Scotland itself, we learn from Fynes Moryson's Itinerary that to the east of Edinburgh 'an high mountaine hangs, called the chaire oí Arthur, (of Arthur the Prince of the Britanes ... famous among all Ballad-makers).'40 Then, at the other end of the country, there is Men Merlin, or Merlin's Rock, near Mousehole in Cornwall. It is of undetermined age, but there are two lines of prophecy about it that are supposed to refer to a Spanish raid of 1595, which would put the name of the place at least as far back as the sixteenth century. It is, however, easy to write successful prophecies after the event.41 Another Cornish name, King Arthur's Hall in the parish of St Breward in Cornwall, genuinely goes back to the sixteenth century. This is a rectangular earthwork with a bank of earth some five to seven feet high that encloses a space of more than ten thousand square feet.42 From Wales, Stow records in 1580: There is yet to be scene in Denbighshire, in the parish of Llansanan, in the side of a stonie hill, a place compassé, where in be foure and twentie seates for men to sit in, some lesse, and some bigger, cut out of the maine Rocke by mans hand, where children and yong men, comming to seeke their Cattell, vse to sitte, and play: they commonly call it Arthures round Table.'43

59 Arthur and the Common Folk Some Arthurian names are much earlier than the sixteenth century. Stuart Glennie tells us that Dumbarton was referred to as Castrum Arthuri in a parliamentary record of David n in I36y.44 There also used to be a small circular domed building standing on the River Carrón near Falkirk until it was pulled down in the iy8os.45 It was probably a Roman war memorial dedicated to Victory but it was known as Furnum Arthuri in 1293, and later, more popularly, as Arthur's O'on.46 In 1188, Gerald of Wales toured Wales and afterwards wrote Itinerarium Kambriae, describing what he saw. From him we learn of a range of hills 'quorum principalis Kaerarthur dictus, id est, cathedra Arthuri, propter gemina promontorii cacumina in cathedrae modum se praeferentia.'47 It still had this name in Leland's day but is now known as Brecon Beacons. Another Arthur's Chair and Oven, this time from Cornwall, appears in the story of the canons of Laon with which this chapter began. These Cornish names, therefore, are at least as old as 1113. Finally, we go back to the tenth century to the parish of St Keverne in Cornwall where a land charter of 967 includes the place-name of Hryt Eselt, Iseult's Ford.48 Whether, properly speaking, this is an Arthurian name is open to debate, for while the Tristan story itself is old, the date at which it was incorporated into the Arthurian cycle is not known. A recent study suggests a date before 1100, but even that is still a long way from 96y.49 The older Arthurian names are few in number. Looking at them as a group, we see that as with the relics they are located in Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland. Only the late King Arthur's Round Table near Penrith is outside this area, and even it is close to, if not actually in, Celtic territory. An examination of the place-names leads us to the same conclusion, therefore, as did the Arthurian relics: that there was no general cult of Arthur throughout Britain. Only in the old Celtic areas do we find any evidence for one, and even that is not substantial. Specifically, England shows no trace of it. If we turn to places that are not called after Arthur or one of his companions but are known to have been associated with the king from early times, the same situation exists. The main places, of course, are Tintagel and Glastonbury, the latter being equated with Avalon at a very early date. Others are Caerleon-upon-Usk and Carlisle, both reputed to be the sites of his court - Camelot of the romances can hardly be counted as a real place - Stonehenge, brought from Ireland by Merlin, Mount Badon of uncertain location but most likely in southwest England, and Carmarthen, which according to Fynes Moryson was 'where Merlin was borne, begotten by an Incubus Deuill.'50 Some minor places are Grismond's Tower (Gloucester), where William of Worcester claimed that Arthur had been crowned,

6o Arthur of England and Knucklas Castle on the Welsh border, which he said Arthur had founded.51 All these places are either in or close to the Celtic parts of the British Isles. There is one last source of information about the beliefs of ordinary people concerning King Arthur in the Middle Ages, namely, the folklore legends that had grown up around his name at that time. The Mirabilia reported by Nennius contain some early material, and somewhat later we have the wilder extravagances of Welsh imagination in works such as Culhwych and Olwen, where, for example: 'Cei had this peculiarity, nine nights and nine days his breath lasted under water, nine nights and nine days would he be without sleep. A wound from Cei's sword no physician might heal. A wondrous gift had Cei: when it pleased him he would be as tall as the tallest tree in the forest. Another peculiarity had he: when the rain was heaviest, a handbreath before his hand and another behind his hand what would be in his hand would be dry, by reason of the greatness of his heat; and when the cold was hardest on his comrades, that would be to them kindling to light a fire.'52 This kind of folk material plays no part in the development of ideas about Arthur in England and so need not be pursued further here. We can also quickly pass over another piece of legend, which is not folklore so much as an example of academic 'one-upmanship.' Some writers seeking to enhance the prestige of Oxford University traced its founding back to Aviragus, a British king who ruled about A.D. 70 and said further that St Germain, bishop of Auxerre, had had a hand in forming the university's regulations. To counter-attack, Cambridge's foundation was traced back to the time of King Sigebert, about A.D. 620, but as that was obviously not splendid enough some writers went on to claim King Arthur as the founder of the university.53 Another curious piece of folklore relates to Arthur, though it is not linked to any particular part of the country. A Spanish chronicle, Historia de los Reyes Godos by Julian del Castillo, published in 1582, asserts that in England it was common talk that Arthur had been enchanted in the form of a crow and that many penalties were inflicted on anyone who killed one of these birds.54 The story also appears in Don Quixote (1605): '"Have you not read," cried Don Quixote, "the Annals and History of Britain, where are recorded the famous deeds of King Arthur who according to an ancient tradition in that kingdom never died but was turned into a crow (chough) by enchantment and shall one day resume his former shape and recover his kingdom again? For which reason since that time the people of Great Britain dare not kill a crow." '55

61 Arthur and the Common Folk The principal idea that finds expression in different ways in folklore and legend is that Arthur is not dead but is in some unusual or magical place awaiting his moment to come again. A very early form of this story dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century when Gervase of Tilbury writes that a servant went to seek his master's lost horse on the slopes of Mt Etna and after wandering about the place discovered a narrow path that led to a spacious plain full of all delights. There he saw a marvellous palace and inside, recumbent on a couch, was King Arthur himself with the horse.56 The story was already old before Gervase told it and is simply one of a common folk-tale motif, that of a hero who has not died but lives on in a magic sleep until he is needed again by his people. Gervase was responsible only for the insertion of Arthur's name into the tale. There are many stories of Arthur sleeping in a cave,57 but a good example is that told by Elis Gruffyd (c I490-c 1552) of Flintshire, who wrote a long Welsh chronicle tracing the history of the world from the Creation to 1552. Although he does not himself believe the story, he tells how in the region of Gloucester people said that they had seen some of Arthur's warriors, who had led one or two of them into a cave. Inside, asleep on a splendid bed was an aged man, who was King Arthur. Elis continues by saying that this story was told so marvellously and known so widely that it came to the ears of King Henry vin, who sent some of his servants to listen for the story. Why the king did this we can only guess.58 A much later version of the same story, but not certainly Arthurian since the king's name is not actually mentioned, is the Yorkshire tale of Potter Thompson, a dull-witted man with no regular trade. He chanced to find an entrance to a cavern near the River Swale in which he saw several knights clad in armour asleep on the floor, but when he tried to pick up a sword as proof of what he had seen, some knights stirred and Potter fled. In another version of the tale from the same place, it is a little drummer boy from Richmond Castle who marches down a mysterious passage, then disappears still beating his drum.59 But this story, too, like the previous one, is not specifically linked to Arthur and so is not certain evidence of local belief in the British king. These tales of Arthur's still being alive do not teach us much about the common man's attitude to Arthur in the Middle Ages. In their early form they merely represent the folk-tale side of the myth of the British Hope, which chroniclers and others refer to elsewhere in a more serious way. They do show, on the part of the people who profess to believe such legends, a somewhat naive readiness to accept fairy-tale as truth, but the telling of the same tale in more than one place but using other names suggests

62 Arthur of England that it is the theme that is important, not the fact that some versions name Arthur. After the Middle Ages the stories are pure legend and were probably not taken seriously even by those who recorded them. The main thesis of this chapter has been that Arthur did not have much significance in the Middle Ages among the ordinary folk of England. We can conclude our argument by looking at some negative evidence that supports this point of view. From very early times, many kinds of village festivals had been held throughout England. Prohibitions of them by Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln between 1236 and 1244, by Walter de Chanteloup, bishop of Worcester, in 1240, by the University of Oxford about 1250, by the synods of Exeter in 1287 and York in 1367, and by William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, in 1384 show how widespread and how firmly they must have been rooted in the practices of the times.60 Later records indicate that festivals were still being held, often with official backing, at such places as Lydd (1422), Norwich (1445), Croscombe, North Somerset (1476), Willenhall Fair, Staffs (1497), Wells (1498), St Lawrence, Reading (1498-9, 1505), Perth (1503), Kingston-on-Thames (1507-29), and Croydon(i5i3, I536).61 Village festivities took many forms and included a variety of activities, such as sword-dances, mummers' plays, and May games. That these probably derive ultimately from early pagan rites in connection with the fertility of the coming year does not mean that the peasants of the Middle Ages understood this to be their origin. As Chambers says, these practices at most were 'held to be "for luck" and in some vague general way, to the interest of a fruitful year in field and fold.'62 By the late Middle Ages, therefore, the festivities were mostly held for fun. Because they were traditional, their basic form was fixed, but this did not stop a developing tendency both to rationalize and to lengthen the performance.63 Nowhere is this more evident than in the adding of named characters to the plays. Instead of the anonymous symbolic figures of earlv ritual, later performances have such characters as a Turkish knight, ti e king of Egypt, Father Christmas, Bold Slasher, Beelzebub, and, most f equently of all, St George, who became the principal hero of the mummers plays. Of interest to us, however, is the intrusion nto these festivities of the legendary figure of Robin Hood on a widespread scale. Sloth's confession in Piers Plowman (ci377) that he knows rhymes of Robin Hood better than his paternoster is the earliest reference we have to the hero, but by the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries his legend had become widely known. By the end of the Middle Ages he was familiar to all levels of society, and with Maid Marion he was a frequent character in May games

63 Arthur and the Common Folk and other village festivals.64 Why was it that Robin Hood became a character in folk festivals? Dobson and Taylor point out that though he has many knightly virtues, especially courtesy and generosity, he is always a yeoman hero appealing to a yeoman audience.65 He is not, in other words, a version of the medieval knight who has been simplified for the cruder tastes of common folk. Nor, they add, is he in any way connected with mythology; he is a late addition in historic times who found acceptance because his adventures were already famous in village and town.66 It is this last comment that is relevant to our study of King Arthur. Arthur never appears in folk festivals and neither do any of the figures who are traditionally associated with him, though characters from other romances, such as Alexander, Hector, and Guy, do.67 One might argue that as long as Arthur was thought to be a genuine king of Britain propriety could have prevented his appearance in such low surroundings, but even if this were true it puts no obstacles in the way of Arthur's knights, some of whom one might have thought could at least have challenged St George for his role as hero. The temptation is strong to explain Arthur's absence from a field that Robin Hood so firmly made his own by saying that Arthur did not appeal to the ordinary man. The chivalry and history of the Arthurian world is not yeoman stuff as Robin Hood's exploits are, and as a result the peasants by and large seem to have been indifferent to their legendary king.


Middle English Arthurian Romances


JL AUCITY AUCITY OF MATERIAL from which to draw conclusions was the major difficulty in the previous chapter when we tried to assess what the common people thought of Arthur, but the situation is dramatically reversed when we turn to the Arthurian romances of the Middle English period. If we set Malory's Morte d'Arthur aside for discussion in a later chapter, there still remains twenty-four works written in Middle English that are conventionally classified as Arthurian romances. The very wealth and diversity of the material creates serious problems. Some of the differences between the romances are not important for our study. Differences of dialect and date are not, by and large, significant.1 Differences in form, however, are relevant. One romance is written in prose, five in some form of alliterative verse, eight in tail-rhyme, seven in couplets, and three in other rhyming patterns. A second formal difference is that of length. Seven works are less than one thousand lines, but others are very long. Lovelich's Merlin extends to more than 27,000 lines, while one version of La3amon's Brut has more than 32,000 lines. The Prose Merlin in its modern edition runs to three volumes. Such variety immediately alerts us to likely differences in the way the material in the respective romances will be handled. The world depicted in alliterative poetry, for example, tends to appear more serious and weighty while tail-rhyme verse contributes to a more carefree atmosphere. We should expect, therefore, to find serious and thoughtful treatments of Arthurian subjects as well as more light-hearted and superficial ones. Essentially, three tasks face us in this chapter. First, we need to describe the manner in which Arthur is depicted in the Middle English romances and to notice the great variation in the characterization of him. This in itself will tell us much about medieval perspectives of the king. Then we

65 Middle English Arthurian Romances need to do the same for Arthur's knights, noting not only how they are drawn, but which ones appear, where they appear, and how often they appear. Finally, having set out these facts, we will come to some general conclusions about medieval views of Arthur and his knights, based on the evidence adduced from the romances. The literate public of the Middle Ages probably knew two stories about Arthur. The first, which derives ultimately from Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Vulgate Merlin, is retold in many of the chronicles of the period. This is the account of a mysteriously conceived king, who had to fight many wars against rebellious Britons as well as against Saxons in order to secure his throne. He then became a world ruler, only to have his empire crash about him through the treachery of Mordred. This chronicle tradition emphasizes Arthur's role as a warrior and military leader. If he is shown to have a fault that brings about his downfall, it is usually some form of overreaching ambition, but in the chronicles he more often has no fault. Instead, he is depicted as a victim of fate or of human betrayal. The second story is that told in the French Prose Lancelot. Its main theme was the creation of the chivalric Round Table, with Lancelot as its superb exemplar. It related his many adventures including his failure to find the Holy Grail, and especially it narrated his ill-fated love for Guenevere and its consequence, the destruction of the Round Table. In this story, Arthur is a more complex, but not necessarily more admirable figure. While still a warrior of renown and the head of a chivalric order, he displays weakness and irresolution and pays undue regard to the passionate demands for vengeance made by Gawain. To some extent, he is responsible for his own downfall. The common feature of the two stories is that both end tragically with the death of the king and the ruin of his kingdom. It is the chronicle depiction of Arthur that appears in the first English poem to tell his story. Somewhere about the year 1200, a priest named La3amon from Ernle3e (modern King's Arelay on the River Severn) wrote the work we know today as the Brut. Essentially, it retells the substance of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia as La3amon received it in the Roman de Brut, the Norman-French expansion made by Wace in the middle of the twelfth century. But though the subject matter comes from these sources, La3amon's treatment of it is his own. Before we look at La3amon's depiction of Arthur, however, a note of warning must be sounded. Because Arthur is dominant and his deeds are portrayed at length, one call fall into the trap of thinking that La3amon's work is an Arthuriad rather than the comprehensive history of the English people that it really is. Perhaps if we looked at the Brut purely as a romance,

66 Arthur of England we could accept a judgment that makes the reign of Arthur the poem's core and climax, with the earlier reigns leading up to it and the later reigns showing a decline from it.2 But, in fact, the poem is more chronicle than romance, and consequently Arthur's reign has to be seen as only one episode - albeit the one La3amon treated most fully - in the course of England's history.3 Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia tells the story of the original settlers of the British Isles and ends when the British are confined to that part of the country that we call Wales today. At this point, the middle of the eighth century, the British have in effect become the Welsh. The Saxons are the new rulers of the land, which acquires the name of England while the Saxons take on a new name, the English. One could, therefore, write a history of the British people alone, as Geoffrey did, or of the Saxons alone, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle did, or one could take a different view and look rather at the land in which both races lived and ruled in turn and tell its history as a single story. To do the latter would be to write a history of England. There seems no doubt that to write a history of England in this sense is what La3amon saw his task to be when he announced 'f>et he wolde of Engle, J)a aeoelaen tellen' (7). The history of the British kings and their struggles against the invading Saxons is told by La3amon as part of the island's story; when they pass from the stage he tells how the English (the original Saxons) took their place: & ^Englisce kinges. walden J)as londes. & Bruttes hit loseden. JDÍS lond and JDas leoden }3at naeuere seoóóen maere. kinges neoren here


For most of the poem, La3amon is pro-British and anti-Saxon. To some extent, this reflects the bias he found in Geoffrey and Wace, but much more significantly it is the result of his Christian faith. As long as the Britons represent Christianity and fight to repel the heathen Saxons, it is with the British that La3amon identifies. A noticeable change comes over his attitude towards the Saxons as soon as Augustine is sent from Rome to convert them, and this is well illustrated by the way he uses racial names. He drops 'Saxon,' which he had used as a general pejorative term for all the Germanic invaders in Britain, and turns instead to 'Englisce,' 'Anglisce,' or the like as terms to identify the Germanic people living in Britain.4 He sympathizes with Augustine, and it is 'Bruttissce biscopes' who said 'huxes' (14,871) and 'hokeres' (14,867) to him. Edwin fights in God's name (15,136), while Oswald before his battle raises 'a muchel cross' and all his

6y Middle English Arthurian Romances army kneel and pray to God (15,665!). After his death, he becomes 'Seint OwakT (15,688). Even though for the greater part of his chronicle-poem La3amon identifies with the British against the Saxons and in particular makes the British Arthur the greatest of all the kings who ever ruled in the land, we must recognize that a strong Germanic spirit underlies his characterization of Arthur. According to Everett, Arthur was moving towards becoming a chivalric knight in Wace,5 but La3amon paints him quite differently. While not the ferocious barbarian whom Loomis sees, Arthur can truthfully be called 'a warrior-king, who exults in battle.'6 He does fight fiercely and he can be cruel to his foes - as in the sardonic words he says over the corpses of Colgrim and Badulf (10,694!) - but when he yields to the entreaties of the Scottish women and pardons their menfolk, who have fought against him (io,9i2f), he shows that he can be merciful, too. His sense of justice causes him to hang the Saxon hostages when he hears that Cheldric has broken his word and landed in southern England, but that same sense, plus a concern for his reputation, makes him wake the giant of Michael's Mount before attacking him. If his punishment of the men who broke out in riot at his court seems savage - he kills all the men and cuts off the noses of all their women kinsfolk, ii,39of - it is at least effective, and the blissful peace that eventually comes about in the land is described somewhat enviously by La3amon: i>a hafde ^Englene ard. jDat aire bezste here-word. and JDÍS leodisce uolc aec. leofuest J>an kinge. I>a wifmen heh3e iborene. f)a wuneden a Jrissen londe. hafden iqueóen allé, on heore quides soóe. jDat nan lauerd taken nolde. inné Jrissere leode. naeuer naenne cniht. neore he noht swa well idiht. bute he icostned weoren. fcrie inné compe. & his oht-scipen icudde. & i-fonded hiñe seolue. balde-liche he mitte jDenne 3irnen him brude. For jDere ilke tuhtle. cnihtes weoren ohte. }}a wif-men wel idone. and J>a betere biwitene. J)a weoren i Brutene. blissen ino3e


Though not the hero of the Brut, because a chronicle-poem can hardly have a hero, Arthur is at least the principal figure in La3amon's work. We note with interest the manner of La3amon's portrayal of the king. He looks back to Anglo-Saxon heroic ideas, and he avoids the new chivalric

68 Arthur of England manners that were coming into existence in French literature. What is more interesting for our purpose, however, is to note what the poem shows about Arthur's position in England at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The Brut provides clear testimony that within a century of his creation by Geoffrey, the British king and deadly foe of the Saxons had already been taken over by Englishmen as a hero worthy of celebration in their own language as part of their own history. Although this is a long way yet from the blind patriotism that we will find in some Elizabethan writers when the name of Arthur is mentioned, we can see that the groundwork has been established already in the thirteenth century. Other chronicle-type depictions of Arthur appear in Of Arthur and Merlin, Lovelich's Merlin, and the Prose Merlin. Of Arthur and Merlin is an anonymous poem composed in the Kentish dialect in the second half of the thirteenth century, but it must have retained its popularity for many years because five revised versions of it exist in fifteenth-century manuscripts. The other works are later. Lovelich's Merlin was written about 1425 and the Prose Merlin about 1450. All three depend upon the Vulgate Merlin for their subject matter. Of Arthur and Merlin, Lovelich's Merlin, and the Prose Merlin attempt to turn the Vulgate Merlin into English. Two of these, however, are far from complete and one would not be surprised if the authors' initial interest in the story wilted under the immensity of the task of translating and adapting.7 The Prose Merlin is the fullest version in English, beginning with the council of the devils in hell and the begetting and birth of Merlin and ending with the birth of Lancelot. Much of the narrative deals with the marriage of Arthur, his founding of the Round Table, his wars with the Saxons, and his wars with Rome. Lovelich's Merlin, despite its great length of 27,852 lines, breaks off before the Saxon wars are completed.8 Of Arthur and Merlin is a much freer and more abridged version of the Vulage Merlin so that although it is only about one-third of the length of Lovelich's Merlin, it covers just about as much ground as Lovelich's work does.9 Despite such major differences in scale and manner of presentation, all three works are essentially similar in plot, purpose, and tone. We need, therefore, to consider only one of them. Because it shows the most artistic independence from its source,10 Of Arthur and Merlin is the work discussed here. The story begins with Fortiger's usurpation of the throne, and in a flashback we learn of Merlin's childhood. The two strands of the story then come together and Merlin's dealings with Fortiger are related. A brief

69 Middle English Arthurian Romances account of Uther's reign takes us up to Arthur's becoming king, after which come the civil wars, followed by Arthur's campaign to help King Leodegan. These wars are interrupted by interludes in which the fortunes of other characters are related, such as Gawain's coming to the aid of Arthur and his fight to rescue the booty plundered from London by the Saxons. The poet never finishes this series of wars. He does not even reach Arthur's marriage to Guenevere, which is the goal of the campaign. He gets as far as the betrothal feast, but even this is interrupted by the call to fight yet another battle. In such a work, developed characters do not exist. Arthur is a warrior and nothing else, so that comments that he was 'mild and meke' (2852) and 'euer he was of milde chere' (3002) prove to be nothing but empty clichés, put in by the poet mechanically without thought. Arthur's deeds are no more significant than the deeds of others, and he is often absent from the story for long periods of time while other characters occupy the stage.11 There is a sense in the poem that Arthur heads a renowned court because young knights come to it to increase their honour, but the court is never described in any detail. Arthur's marriage to Guenevere is a sub-theme of the poem but it gets little attention; there are no love scenes between them and no real sign that Arthur has any feelings for her. Once, it is true, after he has been told by Merlin to think of his 'newe amour,' Arthur fights more fiercely in battle (8821-30) and once when he thinks that he has not lived up to her kisses he battles more aggressively (9239-46), but this is all. For her part, Guenevere admires Arthur's prowess in battle and wishes she had him for her lord, but grief when she thinks her father has been killed and relief when she finds he is safe are the principal emotions she shows. Though Newstead calls Of Arthur and Merlin a 'skilfully abridged translation,'12 it is essentially nothing more than a simple and, to modern taste, very monotonous story in which the poet's love of recounting battles with all their traditional attendant details dominates everything else. The Arthurian frame, one feels, does as well as any other to put this kind of material in, but others might have served the poet equally well, for he makes no use of any of the special qualities of the Arthurian legends. There is not even an attempt to present the chivalric code of knighthood; Gawain rushes impetuously to the aid of a lady who cries for help, but this is perhaps the only genuine chivalric action in the poem. The work has no formal didactic theme, and the conflict between good and evil degenerates into a simple satisfaction that Saracens are being slain by Christians.13

yo Arthur of England The Saracens, who are not realized as people, become just conventional evil foes, provided to justify and make acceptable the poet's lust for epicscale slaughter. Turning away from the chronicle-poems proper to a work that nevertheless uses much of the chronicle subject matter and that shares something of that tradition's view of Arthur, we come to one of the more widely acclaimed poems in Middle English. This is the Alliterative Morte Arthur e. Although in the extensive critical commentary on this poem many positions have been taken, this study will consider it to be a chronicle-type romance that heavily emphasizes action told sequentially and for the most part realistically. The Alliterative Morte Arthure has moments of comedy and always keeps us interested in its fast-moving narrative, but fundamentally it is a serious moral work that attempts to teach lessons about man's nature. I am unable to accept the view that the principal concern of this poem is limited to making a critical statement about the politics and policies of the government of England in the late fourteenth century.14 That the Alliterative Morte Arthure has a didactic intent has not been seriously questioned. Since its author deals with the death of Arthur, the subject matter at once establishes the poem's serious nature. Secondly, it is written in the long alliterative line that descends ultimately from AngloSaxon verse, so that its language has epic and heroic associations. The style is heavily formulaic, which distances the poem from the everyday colloquial world and gives it solemnity and formality. Most important, the poet's own statement in the opening lines: And wysse me to werpe owte som worde at this tym That nothyre voyde be ne vayne, bot wyrchip till Hym selvyn, Plesande and profitabill to the popule f>at them heres


indicates that he is writing a work that he considers morally significant. If the Alliterative Morte Arthure is didactic, to find its lesson must be our main concern. In his important study of the poem, Matthews saw it as a 'narrative that depicts the career of a noble king as a rise to a peak of fortune and a balancing, contrasted fall to disaster and death.'15 He was followed by Finlayson, who claimed that the 'overall theme of the poem is the Rise and Fall of a Christian warrior-king.'16 The pattern that Matthews saw was a rise in the king's fortune while the wars he fought were just, and a fall that came about as a result of his changing to the pursuit of unjust war.17 The symbolism of Fortune's wheel and the interpretation of the meaning of Arthur's dream make the point of the poem's pattern clear,

yi Middle English Arthurian Romances Matthews argues. The symmetry of this scheme has considerable appeal, but its logic demands that we should condemn Arthur at the end of the work as a man who has become a proud, arrogant, and cruel tyrant, almost a copy of Lucius against whom Arthur justly fought in the early part of the poem. Yet such a view runs counter to our reactions as Arthur fights his last campaign.18 The conclusion of the poem, therefore, is crucial to our understanding of it and we should begin by trying to see how the poet regards Arthur at his death. Our second concern must be to see if there is a change in Arthur's conduct in the middle of the poem sufficiently significant to turn him from a hero into a sinner. From the moment that Mordred's treachery is announced, the evil nature of his actions is stressed. He is 'wikkede' (3523); he has brought about 'wandreth' (3524); he allies himself with 'Sarazenes' (3530) and 'paynyms' (3533)5 he is the enemy of the church as his men 'robbe thy religeous and ravische thi nones' (3539); he oppresses '{DC pouere' (3540). His men are regularly called 'false' while he himself becomes the 'traytoure.'19 By implication, therefore, in fighting Mordred, Arthur is the opposite. His war is right and his cause good. He is immediately called 'burliche' (3557), glossed by Krishna as 'stately, noble, goodly,' and every adjective used of him thereafter is complimentary.20 He takes up the war with Mordred and pursues it energetically, but not without first making wise provisions to protect his continental interests. Though we might have expected it, neither the poet nor any of the characters connects the prophecy of Arthur's downfall with Mordred's rebellion, which brings it about. If we are expected to make this connection for ourselves, we have to reconcile it with the thought that Arthur is fighting a just war against an evil opponent and that we hope he will win. In the sea battle, we and the author identify with Arthur's cause. His troops are 'our lordes' (3698), as in later fighting they are 'oure men' (3767), Gawain is 'owre ferse knyghte' (3865), and Arthur is 'oure riche kynge' (3896). His archers are 'Archers of Inglande' (3685), who shoot at their foes, 'the he^ene knyghtes' (3687). It is here, too, that the poet stresses another theme. Arthur fights under the banner of the Virgin and her child, and this association with belligerent Christianity is maintained to the end. Gawain passionately calls for God's help against the 'Sarazenez' and promises that all who die that day will 'Souppe with oure Saueoure solemply in Heuen' (3805). Arthur promises to avenge Gawain in the name of 'Messie, and ... Marie, the mylde Qwene of Heuen' (3998); he encourages his men as Gawain did with the promise that if they die they will be 'hewede vnto Heuen' (4091); he dies thanking God for victory and confessing his sins,

72 Arthur of England the philosopher's prophecy and warning to amend his ways seemingly long forgotten.21 Matthews argues that beginning with the campaign against the duke of Lorraine a change comes over Arthur.22 He is no longer the champion of his people but an aggressive tyrant who proves his brutality by his savage actions against the towns of Italy. Yet after examining Arthur's deeds and comparing them with contemporary real-life assaults on cities, Juliet Vale comes to the opposite conclusion, that 'by these standards Arthur should command admiration rather than horror.'23 There is a second objection to Matthews' position. If we look at the opening description of Arthur's empire and the manner of its winning, we find that it was won 'by conqueste' (26), that this conquest was 'full cruell' (43), and that he apparently got Denmark from the sheer 'drede of hym seluyn' (46) that the people had of him, the very same tactics that later made the lord of Milan surrender without a fight.24 The difference between Arthur's initial empire-building and his later conquests in Italy is not that one campaign is more cruel than the other but that one is described in detail whereas the other is not. In the poem, Arthur fights four campaigns. The first, which is only alluded to, is made up of conquests that brought him Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Flanders, all the kingdoms of France, Norway, Germany, Austria, and Denmark. These were clearly unjustified wars of aggression.25 His second war, that against Lucius, is justified by medieval standards in that he is defending his rights and rejecting foreign oppression. His third campaign, that in Italy, is another unjust war, but his fourth, against Mordred, is the most justified of all. The sequence 'unjust - just - unjust - just' does not support any change of heart in mid-poem. Let us turn now to the important episode of Arthur's dream of the Wheel of Fortune and its interpretation. Its purpose must be to mark a turning point in Arthur's life and to indicate that his spectacular successes have ended. It is the reason why this happens that is disputed, for the poem seems contradictory. On the one hand we have the dream and its statement, on the other the interpretation put on it by the philosopher. Matthews, who says that 'the philosopher is assuredly speaking for the poet'26 thinks that this speech contains the moral of the poem. Arthur is told that he has committed many sins and that he should make amends while he still has time. It is easy, however, to distort the speech and make it carry a meaning that it does not have by assuming that what the philosopher says, or at least means, is 'You have committed many sins and therefore you will fall from your high position.' But nowhere does he make Arthur's downfall depend upon his sins, and he does not say that Arthur's destruction

73 Middle English Arthurian Romances is a punishment for a sinful life. In particular, the philosopher makes no specific reference to what Matthews sees as Arthur's greatest fault, the bloodthirsty campaign he has just waged in Italy. He mentions only two of Arthur's victims by name. One is Frollo, whom Arthur killed in a duel to win the kingdom of France at a time when, if we follow Matthews' interpretation, Arthur had not yet degenerated into a tyrant. The other is Ferraunt, a minor figure in the retinue of the duke of Lorraine, a man of absolutely no importance who appears here, one suspects, more because his name conveniently alliterates with Frollo than for any other reason. What the philosopher actually does is very conventional and proper in a counsellor. He recognizes from the dream that Arthur is soon to die, and so tells him to think of salvation while he still can. The sins that he mentions are general, the kind that any warlike king would have committed, Thow has schedde myche blode and schalkes distroyede,/Sakeles, in cirquytrie, in sere kynges landis' (3398-9) and equally the remedies he proposes are conventional: 'rekkyn and reherse vnresonable dédis,' 'repenties full rathe all thi rewthe werkes,' 'amende thy mode,' 'mekely aske mercy,' 'fownde abbayes' (3452-5, 3403). The philosopher spends much more time explaining the details of the dream, identifying the figures in it, and telling Arthur that his renown will live 'in cronycle for euer' (3445) than he does in chastising him. The philosopher, therefore, is not the voice of a moral poet but a character in the story who says the things that are dramatically appropriate to his role as seer and adviser. The dream itself lacks any kind of moral fault-finding. There are nine people on the wheel and we expect them to share a common feature. The philosopher readily identifies it when he says they are all 'conquerours kydde' (3407). If Arthur is to be punished for his sins, we would expect the same fate for the others in order to maintain the symmetry of the image. The fifth figure, later identified as Joshua, does say his fall is due to sin (3315), but the sixth, David, attributes his fall to Lady Fortune alone (3322-3). The others lay no blame anywhere. Fortune herself, of course, true to her traditional character, gives no reason for her actions.27 The dream is clearly a portent of Arthur's downfall, but fault in Arthur is not given as the reason for it. The poem's message is traditional when it tells us that man should recognize the impermanence of his position in the world, that he should understand that all earthly splendour must inevitably pass, and that he should live with one eye always on the next world and prepare himself for it while there is still time. This is the formal message that is conveyed explicitly by the conscious symbolism of the wheel. But the poem has another

74 Arthur of England message, which is delivered implicitly by the narrative. The second lesson is that though a man's body must perish his name can live on. Something does in fact survive the destruction prophesied by the wheel and preached by the church. This world is not entirely in vain; earthly splendour is not entirely useless; secular successes do not completely end with human death; glory is worth pursuing. In the Alliterative Morte Arthur'e, Arthur is a heroic and worthy king, and the poet never departs from total admiration of him. Modern readers can readily appreciate many of his actions: his refusal to submit to the demands of Lucius, his defence of his subjects oppressed by the giant of Michael's Mount, his granting of mercy to the ladies of Metz, his grief for Gawain's death, his wish to have given his own life if the lives of his men could have been spared thereby, his impulsive desire to pursue Mordred without waiting for reinforcements. We can even appreciate his sardonic humour as he cuts Golapas down by the knees. If other actions are less readily acceptable today, such as his laying waste to the cities of Italy, his putting Mordred's children to death, and his riding foolishly close to the walls of Metz without a shield, we must ascribe their inclusion to fourteenth-century values and practices that are not our own. In a single sentence, the lesson of the poem is that although Fortune pulls down all men in her time and although all earthly wealth and power must pass away, nevertheless a man's reputation lives on. The poet does not need to state these ideas at length for they are part of the very fabric of medieval life, but they are clearly implied. By not expressing Arthur's inevitable fall in formal terms, the poet perhaps overemphasizes the other side of the case, which is the glory of Arthur and the magnificence of his deeds, but this seems to fit in with his inclination, which is to admire warlike deeds and the great hero who was once England's king. The Stanzaic Morte Arthur is the last account of Arthur's death in Middle English romance that we must look at. As in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the king dies at the hands of the rebellious Mordred, but the way in which this comes about is quite different. Gone is the magnificent rise of Arthur's continental empire by the defeat of Lucius and the ensuing campaign in Europe; in its place we have the adulterous love of Lancelot and Guenevere and the tragic consequences of its public discovery. Even the focus of the two poems is different. Whereas in the Alliterative Morte Arthure the king is always in the forefront, in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur Lancelot is the figure on whom our interest centres. The very structure of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur makes this clear. It does not relate the life of King Arthur or even a significant part of it

75 Middle English Arthurian Romances in a sequential way. What it does is to take three separate stories - the episode of the maid of Astolat, the incident of the poisoned apple, the exposure of Lancelot and Guenevere's illicit love and the destructive catastrophe that comes from it - and join them together. All three share the theme of Lancelot's love for the queen. The poem does not even finish at the death of the king, as the title might suggest, but with the ending of the relationship between Guenevere and Lancelot. After he is rejected by the queen, Lancelot becomes a hermit-priest, and the last major scene of the poem is the archbishop's dream of Lancelot's death and of his ascent to heaven borne by 'Ángelus xxx thousand and sevyn' (3877). In this poem, Arthur never achieves the stature of Lancelot. He is not depicted as a strong character, not even as a very independent one. From the beginning when, lying in bed with the queen, he learns from her that his court is declining and has to ask her what to do about it, to the end when he is pushed by Gawain's hatred into a war with Lancelot that he has no wish for, Arthur is a weak character who fails to control the situations around him. Only in the battle against Mordred, where the issues are clearcut and morally straightforward, does Arthur pursue a course of action resolutely. In the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, the king seems very concerned about justice; when the queen is accused of poisoning a Scottish knight, he refuses to take her part since he will not be seen to 'be ageyne the Right' (913). He seems ready, however, to compromise even this one admirable quality when he is willing to end the war with Lancelot that he has advocated and pursued so vigorously. The Arthur of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur wins our pity because events conspire against him and overwhelm him, but he is not depicted on a large enough scale to be a genuinely tragic figure.28 The history of King Arthur's life and the story of his tragic death at Mordred's hand give us the most memorable portraits of Arthur in Middle English literature, but it is not in such accounts that the king most frequently appears. Many other depictions of Arthur can be found. Some deal with him at length, others are brief; some make him admirable, others degrade him; some stress his position as a king, others seem almost to forget that he has royal rank. Such a variety is significant. A common situation is for Arthur to appear in a romance that features another knight as its hero. When this happens Arthur, as the head of a renowned chivalrous court, is often only a slight and conventional character. The king and his court are in the poem to set the tone and atmosphere, but all too often the court is merely a jumping-off place for the hero's adventures. Once the adventures begin, the court is forgotten.

76 Arthur of England Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle is a poem that follows the traditional pattern of a knight going out from a court to seek adventure, then returning to that court when he has found it. The introduction of Arthur on this occasion enables the poet to end the story with the Carl's acceptance into the courtly fraternity of the Round Table, a convenient and happy resolution of the vendetta that the Carl has pursued for twenty years against all his disobedient guests. Arthur, however, is a minor figure. His role is limited to announcing the hunt that starts the adventure and to praising Gawain and the Carl at its conclusion. Lybeaus Desconus follows the same pattern. Arthur's court is a place where a lady seeking help expects to find a champion for her cause. Arthur, who is 'curteys ... and kynde' (272), rules over the court. Though he has doubts about Lybeaus Desconus' abilities, he nevertheless promises him the next adventure that presents itself. Realistically foolish, this device is merely a way of getting a tale of adventure started, and so the king sticks to his promise even when Eleyne, who is seeking help for her mistress, quite understandably asks for a more experienced knight. All this is literary convention. The ending is equally traditional. Lybeaus Desconus and his wife return to Arthur's court where they are happily and generously greeted. A splendid feast that lasts for forty days concludes the poem. Sir Perceval of Galles is very similar. The Arthurian world never does more than provide a suitable backdrop against which Perceval's exploits can be projected. None of the Arthurian figures is developed, though Kay and Gawain are conventionally portrayed in opposition to each other as the boorish, ill-mannered knight versus the courteous knight. Once again the court is seen as a place from which help can be obtained when a messenger goes there to get help for Lady Lufamour, who is besieged by a monstrous sultan. Arthur is an appropriate ruler over this court. He values and appreciates good knights, as his rewarding of Perceval's father shows. When Perceval rudely rides into Arthur's court, the king keeps his temper and, to everyone's surprise, even seems to understand and make allowance when Perceval threatens to kill him if he does not immediately make him a knight. Although the point is not especially emphasized, Arthur's role as a ruler of the court is to represent the world of civilized behaviour and polite manners, which so strongly contrasts with the rude and primitive world from which Perceval comes. Twain and Gawain, too, is built on the formula of a knight going out from and returning to a court. A departure from the formula is that the hero does not set out from a superlative court but from one that is somewhat suspect, even though flattering terms are applied to it by the poet. The

77 Middle English Arthurian Romances assembly is called 'grete and gay' (19), the knights are 'war and wyse' (21), and the ladies are of 'mykel pryse' (22). The 'curtayse cumpany' (43) has 'grete honowre' (32) and 'lose' (45) and is '£>e flowre of chevallry' (44). Perhaps unduly influenced by such expressions, at least one critic has seen Arthur's court as representing 'the model of a society united by loyalty and a desire for fame,'29 but there is another less worthy side to the court. Lunet feels that she is indebted to Ywain and saves his life, because once when she came as a messenger to Arthur: Fro {)e tyme f>at I was lyght In cowrt was none so hend knyght, i>at unto me {Dan walde take hede, Bot {DOU allane.


Certainly, the famed courtesy of the Round Table seemed to have been absent on that occasion. More to the point, as the story opens, all the courtiers are quarrelling. Kay, of course, is largely to blame and his illnature is well-known to the others, but Colgrevance seems rather petty himself in refusing to go on with his story after Kay's interruption.30 The court is clearly not a model of chivalry but rather a group of faulty men into which Ywain appropriately fits. As the poet depicts him, King Arthur is better than the court he rules. He is 'wise' (12) and 'trew' (13) and of all his knights 'he bare ^e pryse' (i i) and 'of al f>is werld [he] beres J^e flowre' (1410). Such terms are highly conventional, but nothing in the poem suggests that they are undeserved. He settles the dispute between the sisters fairly and with authority. Though a background figure, appearing only three times, Arthur is neither weak nor frivolous in Ywain and Gawain. Another poem that uses Arthur's court as a place of departure and return but sets its main action elsewhere is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The nature of this court and its king has been widely discussed and the issue is still not settled. Some critics have seen the court as 'idealized and purified' and, if not over-martial, at least a 'model of courtesy,'31 but it can be argued that the court's outward appearance does not truly reflect its inner qualities. From the very beginning, we have hints of this. The poet calls the merriment of the court at the festive season 'rechles' (40), which Tolkien and Gordon translate as 'care-free, joyous,' but the adjective then becomes rather empty, adding nothing when joined to 'merges.' Gollancz's translation 'careless' in the sense of 'heedless' fits the context better.32 In other words, the court may be judged selfish and concerned

78 Arthur of England with its own immediate happiness without heeding its responsibilities and duties. The reaction of the courtiers to the Green Knight's offer of a Christmas game supports this unfavourable judgment. They stare 'on len^e' (232), studying but carefully keeping their distance. Astonished at the Green Knight's intrusion and wondering what he intends, the courtiers are 'stouned' (242), fall silent, and 'stonstil seten' (242). Though the poet says, 'I deme hit not al for doute,/ Bot sum for cortaysye' (246-7), nevertheless there is 'doute' and all the courtiers seem very ready to let Arthur take the lead. We know that from the outset they judge the Green Knight to be of 'fantoum and fayry3e' (240) and that 'perfore to answare watz ar3e mony ajDel freke' (241). There is no sign that they ever change their attitude. At first they hide behind Arthur and then, later, just as eagerly behind Gawain, even pushing him forward in their relief that they themselves are safe as a result. Like his court, Arthur is also outwardly attractive. He is described as '|)e comlokest kyng' (53), the 'hy3est mon of wylle' (57), and the one who talks 'ful hende' (108). Yet inwardly Arthur is deficient and faulty because of his youth, pride, and lack of self-control. First we hear of his 'joyfnes' (86), his '3onge blod' (89), and that he was 'ful 3ep in J)at Nw 3ere (105). We are then told that he has a 'brayn wylde' (89) and is 'sumquat childgered' (86). This last comment is crucial. According to the Middle English Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, and Gollancz's note (98), this is the only use of the compound 'childgered.' It has been translated as 'boyish, light-hearted, merry,' but the Oxford English Dictionary stays closer to the literal sense of both parts of the compound and translates it 'having childish manners.' Gollancz gives 'of childish cheer, behaviour.' The newness of the compound in the late fourteenth century suggests that it probably has not acquired much more than its purely literal meaning, for some years of use are needed before a compound becomes a genuinely separate word with connotations of its own. Consequently, the translation 'having childish manners' should perhaps be preferred. Taken in this sense, the word clearly implies criticism of the king.33 Arthur, however, is not as weak as his court. Driven by shame at his knights' failure to respond to the Green Knight, he takes up the challenge himself. Once aroused, he is abrupt and stern. His single word of address, 'HaJ^el' (323), contrasts pointedly with his earlier friendly greeting, 'Sir cortays kny3t' (276). He wastes no time in telling the Green Knight that his idea is foolish but assures him he will get what he asked for. He steps up to the Green Knight, takes the axe, and brandishes it fiercely. From his abrupt manner, his references to folly, and his sneer at the Green Knight's

79 Middle English Arthurian Romances 'grete wordes' (325), up to now lacking deeds to support them, it is clear that Arthur intends to insult and rebuke the Green Knight in turn. But brave as he is, Arthur has just failed a major test. The court had been praised by the Green Knight for its reputation for bravery and courtesy. Accepting the challenge proves Arthur's bravery but his manner of doing so lacks courtesy.34 It falls to Gawain to supply this quality as he takes the challenge from Arthur and substitutes himself for the king. The poet uses the reactions of the courtiers to Gawain's return to teach the poem's final lesson. When Gawain comes back to Camelot and tells his story, the courtiers praise and honour him and make what is for him a sign of shame and mortification a mark of honour. Superficially, their laughter resembles that of the Green Knight, but it is impossible to believe that their judgment parallels his. He, more wisely than Gawain, saw what Gawain failed or refused to see, but the courtiers' laughter is different. They see less than Gawain, for nothing has changed for them. Their lives have gone on at Camelot, unaffected by Gawain's quest. If the violent intrusion of the Green Knight a year before has not affected them, it is no surprise when later the mere words of one of their companions fail to have an impact. His story when he returns is no more than a moment's wonder, little heeded and certainly not understood. The sad fact is that one man cannot teach another to know the truth about himself. Everyone must learn it for himself by directly experiencing it. The ending of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight brings to mind the ending of T.S. Eliot's 'The Journey of the Magi.' Like the returned king of that poem among his now alien people, Gawain is a man 'no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation.' Instead of the knight going out from Arthur's court to seek adventure, in the Awntyrs of Arthur he comes to the court, and his battle there with Gawain is the principal event of the second section of the poem. A discussion of this work, however, is complicated by the fact that it is not clear whether it is a single unified poem or two poems connected only by a common Arthurian setting and the presence of Gawain as a major character in both. Resolution of this problem is not easy, but as the view that separates the parts seems easier to defend than the one that attempts to join them,35 we will treat the episodes as separate poems. The first poem adapts religious material - the closest analogue in Middle English is The Trental of Si Gregory - to give us a work that is, in effect, a mirror for princes. The instruction that it contains is traditional for the genre, but the narrative frame into which it has been cast shows considerable novelty. To substitute Guenevere and her mother for the traditional saint

8o Arthur of England and his mother is a striking touch that not only effectively secularizes the message but also catches a wider audience by appealing to the widespread popular interest in the Arthurian material. That the poet was willing to make such a radical modification of his source material clearly demonstrates how well liked the Arthurian cycle must have been. The second poem of the Awntyrs of Arthur is a standard Arthurian romance involving a challenge to Arthur and his court, an exciting battle between Gawain and the intruding knight, and a happy resolution when the strange knight joins the Round Table fellowship. Arthur, who had virtually no role in the first poem, plays a greater part in the second poem. His character, however, is essentially determined by the plot. He rules over a celebrated court and consequently he is an impressive figure. Arthur welcomes Galerón graciously and later steps in with authority to end the battle. The king's suggestion that Galerón's lands be returned to him then settles the dispute. The second poem of the Awntyrs of Arthur shows Arthur to be a wise, generous, and prudent ruler who is firmly in charge of events. Other romance depictions of Arthur tend to detract from his stature as a great king. A simple example is the first part of The Avowing of King Arthur, where Arthur is no more than an adventurous knight prepared to risk his life like any other in a daring adventure. He tracks a ferocious boar and then kills it single-handed. This deed is quite different from his defeat of the giant of Michael's Mount in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, for there he was properly motivated by a sense of duty and justice. In The Avowing of King Arthur, the action is purely for adventure and profits no one. In the second half of the poem, Arthur agrees to the testing of Baldwin and joins in the last test personally. It is not a noble thing to do for it makes him a partner of Kay. Gawain, it should be noted, has nothing to do with the tests. The king's action becomes a practical joke in very dubious taste and one that is clearly offensive to Baldwin's wife, though her protests are ignored. By this action Arthur leaves the world of courtly chivalry and descends to that of the fabliau. Last of all, we must note four Middle English romances that paint Arthur in unflattering colours. In these works, he loses any individuality or personality that is properly his and becomes instead a mere puppet in the hands of the authors, to be manipulated by them to suit their plots. Thus in Sir Launfal we begin with the traditional figure of a 'dou3ty Artour' (7), who rules his country with 'good lawes' (2) and presides over a court with 'joye & greet solas' (9). When Launfal's fortunes recover, Arthur invites him back to court and asks him to be his steward. But because the plot requires that Launfal be threatened by the loss of his life, Arthur does

81 Middle English Arthurian Romances an immediate about-face, drops his friendly attitude, accepts the queen's charges against Launfal without any inquiry, and demands a speedy judgment and punishment. In the parallel poem of Sir Landeval,, Arthur is treated in the same way, but much more obviously this time the king and queen merely provide the opposition for the good fairy to overcome. Once more the king is immediately angry when he hears the queen's charges and he again threatens Landeval with death: The kyng wax wondir wroth, And, forthwith swore hys othe That Landavale shulde bide be the lawe, Be bothe hangyd and drawe.


He hurries the barons to condemn Landeval: Than said the king to his baronye, 'Haue jdo, and yyve jugement! '


His intemperate haste is more blameworthy because he alone believes Landeval to be guilty. The barons, who know Guenevere's reputation for loose behaviour, quickly acquit Landeval of the charge of improper advances. By realistic standards, Arthur should be condemned for poor judgment towards Landeval and for blindness in failing to see, in his wife, what everyone else is fully aware of. Realistic standards, however, are irrelevant in this folk-tale romance. Arthur and his wife exist here solely to provide opponents for the good fairy to overcome. Golagros and Gawain gives us another unfavourable picture of Arthur. The poem can be seen as a three-way contrast between Arthur, Gawain, and Golagros. Arthur is like Gawain in that he is chivalrous and courteous, but he differs from Gawain in that he is aggressive and cannot sympathize with Golagros' need to preserve his independence.36 Arthur also differs from Golagros in that he values possessions too highly whereas Golagros can accept mutability and the changes of Fortune.37 Arthur is again a bad king when he fails to measure up to the ideals of pilgrimage, chivalry, and national freedom.38 The Wedding of Sir Gawain is the last Middle English poem we will examine that presents a reprehensible Arthur, but he is painted this way this time so that the merits of the virtuous Gawain, the hero of the poem, may be more clearly seen. Arthur's character is determined solely by the plot and he exists, just as Kay frequently but more obviously does, to be

82 Arthur of England a foil to Gawain. Arthur turns out to be a weak character, filled with self-pity: 'Alas! I am in poynt my-self to spylle,/ For nedely I most be ded' (331-2). When threatened by Sir Gromer, he will do anything to save his life, making an agreement with him even before he knows its terms, so desperate is he to escape. Later, though he knows how foul the hag is, he resolves to urge the wedding upon Gawain for the same self-preserving reasons: Butt and itt be so, I wolle do my labour, In savyng of my lyfe to make itt secour, To Gawen wolle I make my mone.


He assumes that Gawain will sacrifice himself for his sake. Equally shameful is Arthur's haste to get from Dame Ragnell the answer to the question of what women most desire: Telle me your answere nowe, and my lyfe saue me' (397). Lastly, though he has solemnly sworn not to reveal to anyone what happened in Inglewood (173-4), ne tdls Gawain without delay and so breaks his word. Even though his life was threatened, we might have expected a better response from Arthur. Once again, judged as a realistic character, Arthur has nothing to commend him. Yet such an evaluation is faulty because The Wedding of Sir Gawain is not a realistic work with characters drawn from life. It is an entertaining tale of courtesy and magic. The king's role is to set the narrative in motion, and then as a character to be a foil to Gawain, the real hero of the poem. To highlight his hero's virtues, the poet uses a standard device of contrasting them with the faults of someone else. The king's character suffers accordingly. We turn now to the second task of this chapter, to describe the presentation of King Arthur's knights in the Middle English romances. Names familiar to us through Malory, most notably Lancelot, Gawain, Kay, Bors, Galahad, Bedevere, Tristram, and Perceval, are the ones we would expect to meet. These, after all, are the knights whom we have come to associate most closely with Arthur's court at Camelot. Though he is not a knight of the Round Table in the usual sense, we should perhaps also add Mordred to our list because his name is so familiar. Yet the romances do not concern themselves much with these people; some hardly appear at all. We should recognize, however, that only the longest romances have the space to develop more than one central character, and since the hero in most romances is on a quest that takes him away from the court he can expect to meet his companions of the Round Table only infrequently, usually at the beginning or the end of the story. Thus, unless one of the Round Table

83 Middle English Arthurian Romances knights happens to be the hero of a romance he is not likely to have a significant part in it. What is surprising, however, is that the chief characters of many of the romances are not the traditional Round Table knights at all, but figures who have no regular place in the Arthurian world. Examples are the Turk, Golagros, the Carl of Carlisle, Galiot, Amytans, Dame Ragnell, Lunet, Allundyne, Bertilak de Hautdesert and his wife, and Guenevere's mother.39 It seems to be the Arthurian setting that is important to many romance writers, rather than the traditional figures of the cycle. The knight who appears most often in the Middle English romances is Gawain, a figure associated with King Arthur from the very beginning. We meet him as early as Geoffrey's Historia, where he is favourably, if briefly, drawn. Whiting describes him thus: He is Arthur's nephew, the son of King Lot and Arthur's sister, and from his first appearance until his death he is a brave and gallant warrior, second only to Arthur in courage, strength and success . . . There are no shades, no subtleties ... He is the ideal warrior, the highest type of martial prowess, loyal, courageous, untarnished and undefeated until he meets inevitable death.40

This is the martial depiction of Gawain. By its side there is a second portrait, which comes from France. Fanni Bogdanow describes it thus: In the twelfth-century verse romances Gauvain was the embodiment of all chivalric virtues. Though never the title hero, he is represented as the best of Arthur's knights: Devant toz les buens chevaliers Doit estre Gauvains li premiers

(Erec, 11.1691-2)

He is renowned for his courtesy, his modesty and above all his sens or wisdom. In battle he is practically invincible, and the greatest honour that could befall any knight was to avoid being defeated by Gauvain. He is also the perfect lover.41

But Gawain does not maintain this ideal characterization in the later French romances. With the passage of time, he becomes more and more degraded, acquiring particularly an implacable desire for vengeance whenever any wrong is done to him.42 He acquires as well an easy-going morality that allows him to take advantage of any willing girl he meets. Consequently, an English poet who had read his French romances would have known that Gawain had a reputation for courtesy, but he would also have been aware that Gawain could be lecherous and even treacherous, too.43 In the chronicle poems, the characterization of Gawain that is required

84 Arthur of England is the martial one. If it appears at all, Gawain's courtesy is no more than a side-issue. In an unsophisticated work such as Of Arthur and Merlin Gawain's skill as a warrior is his only trait; a typical episode in which he appears is the lengthy account of his great battle to rescue the booty carried off from London by the Saracens. There is more to Gawain in the more complex Stanzaic Morte Arthur, but even here the basic pattern is never compromised.44 He is fundamentally an aggressive and hasty warrior, but in this case his desire for family vengeance drives out any concern for the overall well-being of the state. The depiction of Gawain that is more frequently met with in Middle English romances is that of the knight of courtesy. Many examples come to mind but it will suffice to choose only two representative illustrations, one a straightforward depiction of Gawain's courtesy and the other a critical examination of the way of life that sets such a high premium on the chivalric code and the courtesy it embraces. Gawain's courtesy is depicted very clearly in Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle, a poem structured to demonstrate this particular chivalric virtue.45 The theme determines the characters. First, someone must test the hero. This task falls to the Carl.46 Because the host at the castle is a carl displaying only 'carllus corttessy' (278), we do not expect much in the way of good manners from the guests. Under such circumstances, Gawain's display of courtesy, coming from his own nature rather than from the demands of social convention, is especially commendable. The poem then needs someone to fail the tests and so, by contrast, magnify the credit of the hero who succeeds. Kay, depicted as an arrogant, truculent bully, who says that he will take shelter in the Carl's castle by force, ideally fills this role. Finally, the poem requires a hero to pass the tests. This is Gawain. Unlike Kay, Gawain approaches the castle peacefully. He begs permission to enter, kneels to his host though he is only a carl, and asks if he may leave the room to attend to his horse. Though courtesy is the general quality tested, the specific tasks are ones that require a guest's obedience to his host's demands even when they are unreasonable. Gawain, therefore, must, and does carry out even such an apparently foolish request as to take a spear and hit his host in the face. Gawain's reward of marriage to the Carl's daughter in an atmosphere of general happiness makes an appropriate conclusion to the poem. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight also deals with Gawain's courtesy, but in this work a blind commitment to courtesy without questioning its ultimate appropriateness becomes a weakness in the hero, not a strength. The author takes an unusual path. Instead of letting his hero succeed in his quest and return in triumph to Arthur's court, he makes him fail so

85 Middle English Arthurian Romances that he comes back humbled and chastened. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is not the usual romance poem in which a knight follows a quest in alien lands but rather is a test-poem47 designed to teach us something about chivalry and human nature through the trials that the hero experiences. The traditional Gawain of English romances, brave, loyal, and above all else courteous, is the perfect hero for the poet's purposes; he is taken out of his usual uncomplicated world, where the requirements of the knightly code never clash either with one another or with other desires, and is placed instead in a situation where one-dimensional responses will not be adequate. By offering Gawain choices, the poet allows his hero the chance to falter, to desert his principles for selfish ends, and yet not seem immediately unworthy when he does. The weak man inside the perfect knight is let free, and the potential for failure, which exists in all men, is made clear. It is perhaps surprising that, second only to Gawain, the knight most frequently encountered in the Middle English romances is Sir Kay.48 He appears in fifteen romances. He can be 'a mocking, surly, and at times militarily incompetent person,'49 and in this capacity is often used as a foil to Gawain in matters of courtesy; in other romances he is 'a valiant fighter, loyal to Arthur and highly respected by the other knights of the court.'50 These differing portrayals depend ultimately upon which of two traditions a particular poet follows. The unflattering portrait goes back to Chrétien de Troyes and descends to Middle English via the Vulgate Lancelot', the flattering portrait is the older and derives from the chronicle tradition based on Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other knights appear in the Middle English romances much less frequently. Lancelot, for example, has a major role in only two poems, Lancelot of the Laik and the Stanzaic Morte Arthur.51 The first poem is a very loose and expanded paraphrase of the French prose romance of Lancelot du Lac, but as the English author tells it, it is curiously constructed with most of Book n (lines 1275-2143) being virtually a new addition.52 Lancelot does not appear in this part of the poem, but in the narrative part, Book i and the incomplete Book in, he does appear, playing the role of the hero. He is so successful and impressive a warrior that the Lady of Melyhalt falls in love with him. He, however, deeply loves the queen and this dominates his life. He expresses all the standard hopeless sentiments of the unworthy lover (1011-33), declares himself the queen's knight (3048-52), wishes to fight for her sake and even to die for her if he must (3165-72, 3269-88). Lancelot is a conventionally perfect knight in this poem. Although a fuller picture of Lancelot appears in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, his character does not become more complex. Everyone has a high

86 Arthur of England regard for him, whether it be the king, the court, or even an enemy such as Lucan.53 It is indicative of Lancelot's popularity that the knights refuse to help Guenevere when she needs a champion because they think she has mistreated him. He is a marvellous fighter, of course; he is zealous of his reputation; he generously offers to help the young knight at the tournament; he does his best to reject the Maid's impulsive overtures as kindly as he can. As Wertime says, the poet tries to mitigate Lancelot's sin of adultery and, as far as possible, excuses him by putting the blame on Agrawayne, a noted troublemaker.54 Furthermore, Lancelot tries to soften the consequences of his guilty love as much as he can. For a long time at the siege of Joyous Garde, he refuses to make war on the king, he spares the king's life in battle, he returns Guenevere to her husband at the pope's command, and he will not kill Gawain when they fight in single combat. Even so, his fault and his responsibility for the disaster cannot be denied.55 He is at best a flawed hero in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur. Other famous knights are even less prominent than those we have looked at so far. In three works, La3amon's Brut, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, and the Prose Merlin, Bedevere is one of Arthur's two companions in the battle against the giant at Michael's Mount, and he is later one of the first to be killed in the war with Lucius. In these works the authors are indebted to the chronicle tradition that goes back to Geoffrey's Historia. The story of Bedevere throwing Excalibur into the water at Arthur's death appears in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur. There are minor references to Bedevere in Golagros and Gawain and in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Bors appears very briefly in five works, though often in only one line. Galahad is important in Lovelich's Holy Grail, but apart from that he appears only twice in Middle English. Though we usually do not think of him in the context of the Round Table knights, we might notice that Mordred also appears only a few times in the Middle English romances. He is found only in those works that concentrate on Arthur's death, except for the strange single reference in Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle that makes him Arthur's uncle.56 Three other well-known Arthurian knights, Ywain, Perceval, and Tristan, appear only once each as central characters in Middle English romances. Ywain, the son of Urien, is a background figure in several works,57 but only in Ywain and Gawain is he the hero of a poem. He is drawn, however, in highly conventional terms and has no features that mark him as an individual. Like many other knights, he wishes to win honour and reputation, a desire that causes his adventure at the fountain and sets the story in

8y Middle English Arthurian Romances motion. The same desire subsequently brings about his separation from Alundyne. His search for chivalric reputation and his friendship with and admiration of Gawain are Ywain's dominant features. The qualities that distinguish him in Chretien's Le Chevalier au Lion, the English poet's source - his sudden falling in love with Alundyne, his despairing of success, and his grief and madness when he is rejected by her - are all handled in the most perfunctory way in the Middle English poem. The love theme seems trite and contrived because the poet clearly has no sympathy for it. Ywain's martial exploits, especially those involving the lion, are what appeal to this romance writer. Another Arthurian knight who is not popular in Middle English romance is Perceval.58 Traditionally in early French literature he is the hero of the grail romances, and his quest is a major Arthurian story. In Sir Perceval of Galles, however, the grail is not even mentioned. Indeed, apart from his going to the Holy Land and fighting for his faith we find no serious references to religion at all; the early episode in which he thinks that one of the first knights he meets must be God is pure comedy and fits the role of simpleton child that he plays in the poem.59 His behaviour throughout is consistently immature. He delights in having his own armour and preens himself when he wears it; he is impetuous and wants immediate gratification of such desires as to be made a knight; he is quickly angered when thwarted and he threatens all who oppose him. Perceval even shows the cruelty that is often associated with children. His burning the Red Knight's body and his taunting remark, 'Ly still f>erin and roste' (794), as well as similar gibes at the giant whose foot he has just cut off, verge on the barbaric. He neglects his mother, forgetting her as soon as he leaves her, and he deserts Lufamour just as completely later in the story.60 Both actions show a callous and selfish indifference to others.61 Finally, we should consider Tristan. Although his ill-fated passion for Iseult is one of the great medieval love stories in Europe, in Middle English it appears only in Malory, and even there it is much modified. The one romance with Tristan as hero, the late thirteenth-century Sir Tristrem, fails miserably as a love story.62 We cannot attribute this to the poet's lack of skill or to his choice of a demanding verse form,63 for when he deals with familiar romance material such as Tristrem's battle with Vrgan, the author is more than competent, moving the action along rapidly and even providing vivid, if macabre detail. After Tristrem has cut off Vrgan's right hand we are told: Tristrem trad in {DC blod / And fond {DC hond J)at was his' (235960). The poet likes bloody battle scenes. In a poem of little more than

88 Arthur of England three thousand lines Tristrem is involved in four major combats, yet only his victory over Moraunt, the champion of Ireland, is relevant to the love story. The manner of the author's telling of his tale suggests that he seized Tristan's famous name and the Arthurian context it implied as a means of attracting the attention of his audience, and that once he had caught their interest he proceeded to recount the mundane kind of knightly adventure story he was more at home with. The love story, which provides the poet with his plot outline, is transformed. When the lovers meet there are no descriptions of the heroine's beauty, no analyses of sentiment, no fine speeches of passion. The lovers are brought together again and again in situations arranged so that the king can discover them. Every time, however, they escape the consequences of their actions by a clever ruse or a fortunate accident. Such contrived affairs eventually wear thin. The author of Sir Tristrem relishes the way his hero twists and schemes to avoid Mark's clumsy attempts to trap him. But Tristrem's trickery pulls him down to about the same moral level as Nicholas, the hero of Chaucer's The Miller's Tale, pulling the wool over John's eyes. Such treatment debases Tristrem's love and turns the chivalric world to which it belongs into something more akin to that of the fabliau. We began this chapter by noting that the great diversity of material in the Middle English romances prevented us from making a single comprehensive statement about the medieval literary treatment of Arthur and his court. Having reviewed this material at length, we have now more than ever become conscious of how great this difference of treatment is. In part at least, the explanation of such variety is that in the romances the authors have been freed from even the few restraints that medieval historians recognized. For the chroniclers there was at least some sense of a body of facts that had to be adhered to if Arthur's story were to be told at all, but for romance writers there were no limits. They were looking only for a good story to tell as well as they could. Of course, they had their source material too, and to this they no doubt felt some kind of obligation, but in their case the material and the characters were always much more adaptable. In the hands of the Middle English romance writers, the king and his courtiers became extremely malleable material. Even in the chronicle-romances, with the exception of the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the conception of a magnificent king who comes to a tragic end does not emerge. It is no argument to say that these works are unfinished so that we do not know what their authors would have made of Arthur's

89 Middle English Arthurian Romances death. From the material that does exist it is clear that they were straightforward writers who liked the noise, colour, and excitement of action, especially in war, and who preferred heroes readily identifiable as good, so that they could then fight opponents just as readily recognizable as evil. It is the wars associated with the king's history that appealed to this group of writers, and for them Arthur is little more than a famous warrior. The author of the Alliterative Morte Arthure is different. He seems to be the only Middle English writer other than Malory who saw that Arthur's history, as told by the chronicles, could be put to serious didactic use. To use Arthur in this way was not a popular tradition in the Middle Ages. Only the more limited didactic role of Arthur, usually in the context of the Nine Worthies, as an example of a man in a high position falling to a low one seemed to have any widespread currency. The romance writers did not seem to find any broad appeal in the historical aspect of the famous British king, as a source of material either for straightforward narrative or for didactic purposes. This does not, of course, mean that such writers necessarily disbelieved what the chronicles told them - if, indeed, they ever thought about the matter - but simply that they looked elsewhere for their ideas about the king. The chief place they looked was to French literature. There they found a different Arthur, a king who ruled over a court of chivalry. For the French, Arthur was king at Camelot, not at Caerleon.64 This conception of Arthur is perhaps the one most widely held in the Middle English romances that are not chronicle-romances. It provided a poet with a convenient place to turn whenever he wishes to create a suitable atmosphere for knightly adventure. Immediately it invoked a world that contained qualities such as bravery, honour, and the worship and service of women. It explains, too, why poets were ready to use the names of famous knights such as Lancelot and Ywain even when they played no part in the stories. The names contributed to the chivalric setting in which other figures would act out the chief parts. More significant, however, are the new roles and characterizations frequently given to King Arthur in the Middle English romances. His acting in stories in such a way that his historical or conventional literary character is denied suggests two things. First, it suggests he was not an established figure in the serious history of Britain; otherwise such liberties could not have been taken. He must chiefly have been thought of as a figure of legend. Second, it suggests his name was very familiar, for romance writers to seize it so eagerly and use it to attract attention to their works. If their romances could be passed off as Arthurian stories, audiences ready and eager to

90 Arthur of England hear them were presumably at hand. It is this desire to capitalize on Arthur's name that must lie behind his appearance in degraded and unworthy roles. The alternative to this view is to see a satirical turn of mind in the romance authors, who would have to be mocking at traditions they feel are hollow, false, or outdated. But as the most extreme of these treatments appear in such light works as Sir Launfal or The Avowing of King Arthur, it is not likely that any such satiric intention should be attributed to their authors.65 In summary, therefore, the treatment of the knights of the Round Table in the romances is straightforward. Their names, of course, must have been well-known, as the frequent incidental references to them indicate, but except for Gawain, who was celebrated for an extra quality as the knight of courtesy, they do not appeal very much to romance writers. If they do become principal figures in romances, they tend to lose those features that make them such strong individuals in French literature. Their roles as lovers or as characters pursuing mystical quests are generally played down and they all tend to conform to a common mould, that of the standard martial knight essentially interested in deeds of action that will lead to honour and reputation. They end up being little different from the many other knightly heroes in Middle English romances who come from worlds other than that of King Arthur's court. The depiction of King Arthur is a little more complicated than that of his knights. In the romances, he is not a historical figure with an accepted biography. Instead, he usually appears as the head of a famous chivalric court; in this role he exists essentially to create a milieu in which other knights, often not even those of the Round Table, can appropriately carry out their adventures. Sometimes the king and the court are presented as tarnished, either for the straightforward narrative purpose of highlighting by contrast the hero of the poem or in order to raise ethical and moral questions in works more serious than most in their didactic intent. A second way in which Arthur is used in the romances is as a major participant in the action of the poems. When this happens, non-traditional characterizations of the king sometimes result. These are often not to his credit. In these cases, the significance of Arthur's appearance is limited to the audience appeal of his name. There is never a deliberate sense of satire or burlesque. However, although Arthur appears frequently in Middle English romances, it is usually as a background figure. He is not the major character of medieval English fiction that manuals of Middle English literature with their inevitable chapter on Arthurian romance might suggest.




Y ITH SIR 5 THOMAS MALORY'S Morte d'Arthur we come to the most significant re-telling of the story of King Arthur in Middle English. Although its length and fullness alone would make it notable, another claim to importance for Morte d'Arthur lies in the use to which its author has put the traditional story. Malory does more than just recount the story of Arthur's rise and fall once again. He describes and glorifies a great and noble ideal - his own version of the chivalric life - but at the same time, he recognizes that the way of life this ideal calls into being will inevitably be pulled down by the very men who should sustain it. Malory shows us a group of fictional characters who fail to uphold the unique way of life that they profess to follow, but through his story, he suggests that it is the nature of all men to fail in the end when they seek to achieve their ideals. Put in its simplest form, Malory's theme is that men have sufficient nobility of mind to create visions of an ideal life but they lack the stability and endurance needed to make the realization of these visions more than just momentary. Consequently, the knights in Malory's story of Arthur cannot live for long by the standards of chivalry that the author depicts in the first half of his work. This tragic fact is Malory's theme. The traditional story of the rise and fall of King Arthur and the Round Table came to his hands as a perfect vehicle to convey his message. Malory is a moral writer, a man with a lesson to teach. Because it seemed so suitable for his purpose, he turned to the story of the downfall of Arthur and retold it in such a way that its tragedy was strongly brought out and the responsibility for that tragedy clearly identified. Even so, the moral usefulness of the story of Arthur and the Round Table was not the only value Malory saw in the subject. The narrative appealed to him in its own right. The pomp and pageantry of the tournaments that he describes, the

92 Arthur of England splendour of the knights in full armour, the clash of arms and the noise of battle, even the very vocabulary of combat that Malory seems to roll on his tongue, savouring it to the full, are all things that he must have thrilled to, for he misses no opportunity to bring them repeatedly into his story. As he tells it, the history of King Arthur is a good adventure, full of action and incident of the kind that strongly appealed to him. Good entertainment, however, was not Malory's primary concern when he wrote his book. The Morte d'Arthur exists to state a theme that Malory felt was important. The message is universal, but it also carried a particularly timely warning for his contemporaries.1 It is necessary, however, to understand that Malory was not calling for a return to the ways of the past, as some critics have maintained; the tragic story of Arthur makes it abundantly clear that the chivalric way had failed. The society that Arthur had built on it had crashed into ruin, and the catastrophe was cataclysmic in scale. With this example before him, Malory would have been foolish to advocate a revival of chivalry as the panacea to right the troubles of his own world.2 Malory does not advocate following the chivalric ideal. He does not even seek to praise chivalry, though he admires it. His ultimate purpose is to ask why chivalry failed when it seemed to have so much in its favour and when its success seemed so assured. In the overall pattern of the book, Malory has to make the ideal of chivalry as splendid as possible, for only when it is thus so ennobled can the tragedy of its failure be truly significant. In the first four books, therefore, the chivalric way of life is built up as something splendid and honourable; the last four books show its testing and its failure. Examining the question of why chivalry did not bring happiness and stability to the world, Malory shows us some fundamental truths about the nature of humanity and these truths become the moral statements of his work. Malory presents his case in a logical manner. First he shows the kind of world that existed before there was a chivalric code. Seeing this, we realize why it was necessary for Arthur to introduce the rules of the Pentecost Oath to bring order to the land. Malory then shows us the world that flourished when the code operated at its best. Law and order was established; justice and mercy prevailed. After this, Malory looks at alternative ways of life and shows how they threatened to destroy the newly established chivalric society by attracting the knights of the Round Table to them. First comes the appeal of the ascetic religious life, but this is soon rejected by most of the Round Table brotherhood. The grail quest fails to change their lives in any significant way. The second threat is the idealization of

93 Malory a woman and the devotion of one's life to her rather than to the social obligations required by the Pentecost Oath. Lancelot's devotion to this service of love eventually destroys the chivalric world. At the beginning of Morte d'Arthur, Britain is a disintegrating and unhappy land. A despicable civil war breaks out for a base reason, the selfish lust of a despotic king for an unwilling woman who is not only his subject but also a guest at his court and therefore doubly under his protection. Uther is an unimportant character, but his actions create the atmosphere of lust, treachery, and tyranny that is the tone of the first three tales. At his death, the country plunges into civil war once more as selfseeking local kings refuse to be ruled by the church or to recognize the miracle of the sword in the stone. Merlin's explanations are laughed to scorn and he is called 'a wytche' and 'a dreme-reder' (18). The opening tale belongs to Arthur, but at first he shows little of his latent possibilities. In the wars against Lott and his allies, he is a fierce warrior and his reputation grows accordingly. Furthermore, he does not set himself apart as a king might but like any other knight takes whatever adventures come his way. Admirable as this may be under some circumstances, it does mean that rash enthusiasm for battle and adventure sometimes overcomes his discretion. Though he is a newly made king only precariously established on his throne and with a civil war still to fight, he foolishly asks Pellinore to yield the pursuit of the Questing Beast to him, and says that 'I woll folowe hit anothir twelve monthe' (43). Such a request reflects to his credit as a young knight errant; it hardly shows evidence of the statesmanship expected of a king. Another feature of Arthur in the early part of Morte d'Arthur is his self-centred nature. His court takes second place in his thinking when he says to Balin, 'Ye have shamed me and all my courte' (66) and to the Roman messengers he says, 'they have greved me and my courte' (187). At this point he has a long way to go before he displays the love and concern for his knights for their sakes that he shows at the beginning of the grail quest. Jealousy for his reputation makes him turn angrily upon Balin and vindictively hope that Launceor will pursue him and kill him. An even more serious example of Arthur's concern for his own interests whatever the consequences is the way he stubbornly insists on marrying Guenevere even though Merlin has warned him that such a match will be disastrous. The opening tale ends with Arthur's crudest deed. Forewarned by Merlin that a child born on May Day will destroy him, Arthur orders all such children to be sent to him. He puts them aboard a ship and sends them out to sea to drown. It is hard to forgive this mass murder; whatever

94 Arthur of England justification is advanced for it, the deed is so reminiscent of Herod's massacre of the innocents that it must be condemned by the very association. We have to consider it a barbaric and savage act, the action of a self-interested tyrant who puts his own security before any Christian or humanitarian considerations.3 To complete the black opening picture, Malory shows us two faulty knights in Balin and Gawain. Some commentators have seen a sense of fate hanging over Balin, citing in support his premonition: That blast,' said Balyn, 'is blowen for me, for I am the pryse and yet am I not dede' (88). Balin, however, is not so much the victim of fate as of his own deficiencies. He is destroyed by his own stubbornness and folly. Warned of the danger of keeping the sword he has won, he insists on carrying it almost as an act of defiance, and later he gives up his own shield without objection and accepts another. This foolish action eventually brings him death at his brother's hands. Even more clearly, Gawain is depicted as faulty. Almost the first thing we hear about him is that he envies Pellinore when Pellinore becomes a knight of the Round Table and is given a seat more worthy than his own. His subsequent vow to slay Pellinore to avenge the death of his father at Pellinore's hands may, therefore, be motivated by more than just his desire for vengeance. On his first quest, his hasty and uncontrollable temper, allied to his disproportionate sense of value, leads him to commit an evil act when he inadvertently kills a lady who tries to save her husband's life. Gawain returns from this quest in disgrace. At the beginning of Morte d'Arthur, England is in semi-chaos and teeters on the brink of anarchy. King or subject, every man puts selfish interests first, and accepted rules of behaviour are ignored whenever it suits anyone to do so. If it prevails at all, right has to be imposed by might, but unfortunately wrong just as often results from the use of strength. A set of rules that knights will follow and a worthy ideal to look up to are needed to bring order and honour to the land. The institution of the brotherhood of the Round Table supplies the vision that Arthur's knights need to improve the world in which they are living. Appropriately, it is after Gawain's ignominious return that Arthur founds the order of chivalry with the oath that is to be repeated every year at the high feast of Pentecost. This oath, however, does no more than catch the lowest level of the chivalric ideal. In language that concentrates upon negatives and prohibitions, reminding us strongly therefore of the ten commandments in the Old Testament, the oath emphasizes rules, not principles. Although the oath should not be dismissed as 'banal generalities,'4 it is not 'a noble and satisfying ideal of human behaviour . . . an excellent symbol for some of the most important

95 Malory concerns of all human life.'5 Its commands do no more than make a start upon solving the problem of lawlessness in society. It is a practical code and a purely secular code. It is the best that can be achieved at this time.6 The more visionary statement of the ideals of chivalry comes much later, when Ector delivers his celebrated threnody for his brother. In the darkening gloom of a destroyed world and in the midst of the savage destruction of a noble era, this passage shines as a beacon and a poignant reminder of what the world had found but then thrown away. Ector speaks for Malory and for chivalry as he says of Lancelot: 'thou were the cur test knyght that ever bare shelde! And thou were the truest frende to thy lovar that ever bestrade hors, and thou were the trewest lover, of a synful man, that ever loved woman, and thou were the kyndest man that ever strake wyth swerde. And thou were the godelyest persone that ever cam emonge prees of knyghtes, and thou was the mekest man and the jentyllest that ever ete in halle emonge ladyes, and thou were the sternest knyght to thy mortal foo that ever put spere in the reste' (1259). This ideal is never rejected by Malory. In the course of Morte d'Arthur we see the distractions that can tempt a knight from the chivalric path and we see also that many knights simply fail to live up to the demands of the ideal, but nowhere is the vision itself disparaged. Malory's love of the chivalric ideal stands as the bright counterpart to his dark and pessimistic view of mankind itself. The code of chivalry that Malory believes in is very simple. It has fighting at its core and motives and manners as central concerns. While it does not lack its own kind of idealism and seeks to make a knight more than just a robot-like fighting machine, the code remains almost entirely secular with virtually no spiritual or religious element. Just as simple as the code are the knights who live by it. Unsophisticated, good-hearted, and frequently generous, even if they sometimes fall into jealousy and envy, Malory's knights have much of the boy still in them. If Machiavelli epitomizes the new man of the Renaissance, Malory's knights are still firmly in the Middle Ages. They have their faults and weaknesses and they can be cruel, petty, and vindictive in their worst moments, but, Mordred and Aggravayne apart, there is no duplicity in them. When there is evil, it is always in the open for all to see. Though in the end it comes to nothing, there was much promise in the company of the Round Table and in the way of life it tried to lead. As Malory presents it, chivalry is a martial code that channels the desire to excel into socially acceptable paths. It compels a man to follow an active life dedicated to the service of others; a major threat to it is the desire for a quiet passive life where a man can put the development of his soul

96 Arthur of England before the pursuit of the renown that comes from deeds of the body. The ascetic life of the religious quest is such a threat; its attractions are held up to the knights in the grail book. None, however, is swayed by those attractions to the extent of permanently renouncing his dedication to the chivalric code and its way of life. In the grail book, it is as if two distinct worlds briefly coalesce. One has marvels and portents: voices that speak out of the air, dreams and visions, boats that travel over the sea without oars or sails, a horse that gallops into the sea and is consumed as a devil. The other world has knights who wear hair shirts as conventional acts of penance, who come to difficult terrain that they cannot cross, and who generally behave within the limitations of ordinary life as we know it. The culminating act in the grail world is Galahad's ascent to heaven, but in the parallel secular world the final episode is Lancelot's return to his starting point of Camelot and the life of the court there. Sitting in the very castle in which the Sankgreall is to be found and eating the food that it had provided, Lancelot hears that his brother, who dreads and loves him more than any other man in the world, is outside and because of his sins is not allowed to come in. Torn by his love for his brother and his desire to continue in his quest for the grail, Lancelot finally 'toke hys armys and seyde he wold go se the realme of Logris why che he had nat sene afore in a yere' (1019). The two worlds lead the knights of the Round Table in opposite directions. Though the worlds touch for an instant in time, they ultimately have nothing to do with each other. Even in their highest virtues, the worlds make no contact. In the chivalric world, prowess properly controlled and directed to society's benefit is the highest virtue; in the pursuit of the grail, chastity is the one absolute requirement. While prowess and chastity are not opposites, they are not naturally companions, either. Each is a virtue but in entirely unrelated ways. The code that sees one as its highest virtue has nothing to do with the way of life that celebrates the other. Galahad, whose mission has been long prepared, comes and goes but nothing changes at Camelot. The world goes on there as if these momentous things had never been. That the ideals of the grail quest and those of chivalry are not opposed has been frequently urged.7 But this cannot be true, for the kinds of life that each implies are quite different. Under chivalry, a knight is directed to an active life of deeds of prowess, aimed at the protection and betterment of society; under the grail code, he is required to turn aside from society and its concerns, to cease being a man of action and follow a mystic vision, to obey dreams, and to heed strange commands. In the last resort, the grail code is not even a knightly one for there is nothing to prevent anyone

97 Malory from undertaking the quest. The search for the grail ultimately declares the knightly vocation to be unimportant. Inevitably, therefore, knights must reject the vision of the grail, as Lancelot in the end consciously does. Galahad's success in the grail quest does not contradict this, for he never was a knight of this earth, subject to its pull and its attractions. As a divinely sent figure, he merely emphasizes how alien the code is to the chivalric life practised by the knights of the Round Table. Bors is quite another matter. Of all the regular Round Table knights, he alone succeeds on the grail quest and journeys to Sarras with Galahad. Why Malory allows this is easy to see, for a quest that all knights are doomed to fail would be singularly uninteresting. Someone must show that it is possible to prevail; otherwise, as Gawain says so aptly, 'for and they fayle of Sankgreall, hit ys waste of all the remenaunte to recover hit' (941). The success of Bors, therefore, serves to keep our attention on the far more interesting struggle by Lancelot and assures us that there is at least a possibility that he might succeed, too.8 Although it is a genuine alternative to the chivalric way, the kind of life offered by the grail quest is not one that attracts any knight for long. It is too far away from the traditional knightly values. A far more insidious temptation is love for women and a worship of them that puts them above everything else in the knight's eyes. This is the second and fatal threat to the martial chivalric code. We must be very clear what we mean by love when we say that it threatens the chivalric life. Malory is enough of a realist to recognize that sexual attraction exists between men and women, and he has no inhibitions about recording the deeds and results that it leads to. But it would be wrong to equate this attraction, which in many instances is no more than lust, in any significant way with the word 'love.' The indulgence of lust frequently produces children, and though Mordred, one of the more evil characters in the story, comes from such a union, we must remember that Arthur and even Galahad are also begotten outside marriage. Malory has little concern for conventional morality in this matter and never expressly condemns adultery as sinful. For that matter, marriage itself has no special status in Morte d'Arthur.9 Tristram and Isode live happily unmarried at Joyous Garde without incurring disapproval, while Gareth and Lyonesse, who do become man and wife, could just as easily have become lovers first. Only Lyonet's watchfulness prevents them, and later Arthur seems so indifferent to the morality involved that before the whole court he freely gives Gareth the choice of 'whether he wolde have this lady as peramour, other ellys to have hir to his wyff (359). That Gareth's choice is marriage

98 Arthur of England does not invalidate the fact that the alternative was genuinely proposed and apparently without any stigma attached to it. Malory, then, does not object to sexual relationships as such in Morte d'Arthur-, he does not even object to the sentiment called love, provided it is kept in its proper place, subordinate to the knight's primary concern for seeking chivalric renown.10 What is disastrous in his view is when love gets out of hand and becomes the central fact in a knight's existence. Then the world is turned about and the pursuit of love becomes a rival way of living, supplanting and perhaps at its extreme even destroying the basic values of the chivalric life. One unambiguous statement against the courtly worship of women comes, surprisingly, from Lancelot, when he explains why he will not marry or take a paramour. He says: But for to be a weddyd man, I thynke hit nat, for than I muste couche with hir and leve armys and turnamentis, batellys and adventures. And as for to sey to take my pleasaunce with peramours, that woll I refuse: in prencipall for drede of God, for knyghtes that bene adventures sholde nat be advoutrers nothir lecherous, for than they be nat happy nother fortunate unto the werrys; for other they shall be overcom with a sympler knyght than they be hemself, other ellys they shall sle by unhappe and hir cursednesse bettir men than they be hemself. And so who that usyth peramours shall be unhappy, and all thynge unhappy that is aboute them. (270-1)

This answer in the mouth of a young knight who still has to prove himself sounds like a quotation from a manual of chivalry. Whether Lancelot is expressing his real feelings or merely giving the response he has learned in the school of chivalry, he does make the fundamental point that the worlds of love and chivalry are opposed and that the prowess of a knight will suffer if he puts a woman first in his life. Unfortunately, the truth is not as simple as this. Lancelot does not lose his prowess when he takes a paramour - it would have been better for Arthur's kingdom if he had - and so he is never defeated by a simpler knight, but the remainder of his prophecy that 'who that usyth peramours shall be unhappy, and all thynge unhappy that is aboute them' comes true in the most tragic manner. The two ways are incompatible, and Lancelot's single-minded devotion to Guenevere does much more than lose him the grail. It undoes the whole chivalric world. The fellowship of the Round Table eventually crashes in disaster, but not because the system itself was faulty. Although the chivalric code did

99 Malory not pretend to have answers for all situations, in its restricted and perhaps narrow way it did allow a viable and possible mode of life. Because the code did not make impossible demands of its adherents, the collapse of the chivalric world cannot be put down to men's vainly chasing standards that were beyond their capabilities. The chivalric world was possible, and the failure to achieve it was not the fault of the system but of the men who created it and then tried to maintain it. We must turn finally, therefore, to an examination of these men and look at the two most important members of the Round Table, Arthur, its leader, and Lancelot, its principal glory. Both play crucial parts in the collapse of the chivalric world. Lancelot's position is firmly established by the end of the third book of Morte d'Arthur, when we are told 'so at that tyme sir Launcelot had the grettyste name of ony knyght of the worlde, and moste he was honoured of hyghe and lowe' (287). Again and again he proves his worth, commanding a following of devoted supporters that remain loyal to him to the very end. Despite his undoubted nobility, however, Lancelot proves to be the only character who is ever human enough to be unsure of himself. When he takes up the quest for the grail, for example, his strength of purpose and his desire to succeed are greater than those of any other knight of the Round Table. He tries to reform himself in order to become worthy of seeing the grail, but he lacks the endurance to pursue the quest to its end. He is not permanently barred from the grail; he merely gives up and goes back to Camelot of his own accord.11 This same lack of resolution mars his devotion to Guenevere. Foolishly, though selflessly, he tries to do the right thing. He listens to the pope and takes the queen back to Arthur, unlike Tristram who lives selfishly but happily with Isode at Joyous Garde. But his conciliatory gesture only intensifies the antagonism between himself and Gawain. Just as unwilling at another time to follow a course of action to its logical if repugnant end, he draws back at the crucial point in his war with Arthur and refuses to kill the king and so end the matter, unlike Bors who, with practical common sense, was ready to do so. The same lack of ruthlessness stops Lancelot from killing Gawain when he twice has him at his mercy, and so the war drags on, eventually precipitating Mordred's rebellion at home, although this consequence was not intended by Lancelot. On each of these occasions a more resolute line of action would have been more effective than the irresolute one Lancelot adopts. His very humanity, ironically, brings on the crises that fill the final months of Arthur's reign and drag the Round Table down to its destruction. As far as Lancelot is concerned, therefore, we can identify two causes for the catastrophe that overtakes the chivalric world of Camelot. The

loo Arthur of England fundamental one is his devotion to Guenevere, for this leads him in any situation to put her first and thus deny the priority of his loyalty to the king and the chivalric fellowship of the Round Table. If this had not been the case, there would have been no weak point in the fellowship of the Round Table for the hatred and envy of Mordred - and in a different sense, of Gawain, also - to exploit. At the day-to-day level, the second cause is Lancelot's very greatness. It proves to be his weakness, for it makes him act with compassion and mercy towards others. A lesser person might have survived the final calamity. The ending of the Round Table cannot, however, be blamed on Lancelot alone or indeed on any single knight or group of knights. Arthur leads the Round Table and is the king of the country. The final responsibility must fall upon him. It is for him to take charge when things are going wrong and for him to impose a solution even if it means changing the system. He has to maintain order and control. He did it once before when he instituted the chivalric life with the Pentecost Oath, but now in the greater crisis he fails to take charge and exercise effective leadership. Arthur's responsibility as a king and his instincts as a person are always to make peace where he can. He tries to reconcile Lamerock with Gawain's family and, in an even more unlikely situation, to patch up the quarrel between Mark and Tristram. Even in the final crisis his instinct is to seek a settlement with Lancelot. His early angry wishes to punish Guenevere and for a shameful death for Lancelot do not last, and he would 'have takyn hys quene agayne and ... have bene accorded with sir Launcelot' (1190). To this point Arthur, as a person, is true to his nature and, as a king, is acting in the best interests of his country. When the occasion most demands firmness and authority, however, he is fatally weak. Gawain's wish for vengeance alone stands in the way of reconciliation and peace, but the king cannot overcome his nephew's fierce determination. He now clearly shows the fatal lack of firmness that has been hinted at earlier. We remember that at the very beginning of his reign Arthur showed a weariness of the responsibility of being a king: '"Alas!" seyde Arthure, "yet had I never reste one monethe syne I was kyng crowned of this londe" ' (127). The announcement of the grail quest brought a similar mood of despair as he realized he could not stop it, despite his premonition that it would destroy the fellowship he loved more than anything else. In the final crisis, therefore, meeting the hot anger of Gawain's need for vengeance, the king's opposite wish for reconciliation is brushed aside. Apart from three lines, the whole debate when Guenevere is returned is between Lancelot and Gawain. In the same way, Gawain is allowed to control the war and

loi Malory to dominate the events at Benwick. When the king finally justifies his pursuit of the war by saying that he has now gone so far there is no way for him to turn back, we realize that he has abdicated all control over events. Gawain's vendetta has become the ruling force in the land and we are back almost where we began with Uther's personal war waged against the duke of Cornwall. We understand, therefore, that there are many causes, major and minor, for the destruction of the Round Table. One, however, is absolutely crucial because it could not be circumvented. The human weakness of King Arthur is the single most important reason for the downfall of the Round Table. When the centre fails, the system inevitably disintegrates and falls asunder. Despite much commentary upon it, Morte d'Arthur still remains something of an elusive work, and critics today disagree widely as to its meaning. In part this results from the way that Malory tells his story. He does not intervene much in his work, preferring to let it speak for itself, but without the guidance of the author's voice every reader tends to read his own ideas of what is significant into the work. For this reason, when Malory does break into his narrative to make a comment we should pay special attention to what he has to say.12 Malory speaks directly when he criticizes the instability of the English people of his own day. When Mordred seized the throne it was with the consent of the people, who, because they were 'so new-fangill' (1229), could not be content with the legitimate ruler. Having rebuked the people for causing 'a myschyff' in this way, Malory turns to his own times and says 'we of thys londe' are no different. 'Alas!' he comments, 'thys ys a greate defaughte of us Englysshemen, for there may no thynge us please no terme' (1229). This piece of fault-finding should be paralleled with Malory's famous commentary on love, for the same idea runs through both. In his remarks on love, he accuses his contemporaries of showing 'fyeblenes of nature' (i 119). Intent on having 'all their desyres' satisfied immediately, they blow hot and cold and show no stability. Taken together, the two comments constitute a judgment of the people of his day. Whether in the public life of affairs of state or in the private matters of their own hearts, Malory tells Englishmen that they are fickle and unstable. Concerned only with their selfish wishes, they desert principles and standards for the gratifications of the moment. Here lies the seed from which the inevitable destruction of their society and of themselves will grow, for they are repeating the very mistake that Lancelot made on the grail quest. He was unstable (948) in an unstable world (1035) and he failed; Bors, a far lesser figure in every other way, was stable (956), and he succeeded.

102 Arthur of England We must now ask ourselves what the writing and publishing of the Morte d'Arthur in the latter half of the fifteenth century tells us about the reception of the story of Arthur in England at the end of the Middle Ages. This question can be looked at from two different points of view: how did Malory see his story and how did the public at large see it? For the first, we have no specific evidence, since Malory has left us no direct commentary on his book; for the second we have some comments from William Caxton and from humanist writers such as Roger Ascham, but even so our conclusions must still be based mainly on inference, not direct statement. It has been argued throughout this chapter that Malory loved the clash of arms and the noise of battle, that he relished the pomp and pageantry of the chivalric tournaments, and that he enjoyed the adventures of the knights of the Round Table simply as stories. Morte d'Arthur, therefore, is full of action and incident but places little emphasis on psychological analysis, especially with regard to the emotion of love, and seems distinctly ill at ease with the theological subtleties that appeared in its sources in connection with the grail quest. As we have seen, Malory, for the most part tells straightforward tales of adventure governed perhaps by a somewhat old-fashioned sense of chivalry. It is principally these qualities of the Morte d'Arthur that account for the popularity the book enjoyed in the sixteenth century. Malory, however, saw more in the history of Arthur than an exciting story, though the deeper significance of his work may well have been lost on or have been unappreciated by most of his readers. In common with many other thoughtful writers of Arthurian works after the middle of the fourteenth century,13 he saw the tragedy of Arthur as a situation with great didactic possibilities. He never goes so far as to turn it into an allegory, for Arthur and the other figures of Morte d'Arthur are always people with distinctive characters and personalities. Nevertheless, he is ready to see them as types whose fates can have application to mankind at large. He saw the tale as an especially valuable one for teaching lessons about man's ability to transcend the mundane and create for himself a noble ideal, while at the same time showing the instability in man that would prevent him from living up to the ideal for long once he had attained it. In the preface to his edition of Morte d'Arthur Caxton gives us our first written criticism of Malory. He, of course, had a vested interest in the book's sale, and so he commented on it in the most favourable way that he could. Nevertheless, his remarks could not be totally false to the nature of the work and therefore do present one view of the story of Arthur as perceived at the end of the fifteenth century. Caxton makes two different

103 Malory claims for the book he has just published, no doubt hoping that if one failed the other would find favour with the public. First he claims that Morte d'Arthur is a noble history, telling a part of the country's story that has been neglected by writers in 'our maternal tongue' (cxlv), though it has been well recorded abroad. He puts forward several proofs that Arthur was an authentic king and that the book therefore is based on fact. At the same time, he also records his own scepticism about Arthur's existence. His initial disbelief and his later willingness to be overruled by the 'noble jentylmen' (cxliv) who wanted the work printed can perhaps be dismissed as no more than a convenient device to allow him to marshal the arguments in favour of Arthur's historicity and thus establish the book's worth. But his later comment 'but for to gyve fayth and byleve that al is trewe that is conteyned herin, ye be at your lyberté' (cxlvi) seems much more a genuine expression of doubt. Caxton, perhaps, may personally have been a disbeliever in a historical Arthur, but his urging of the evidence for Arthur's existence must mean that there were others who thought differently. He must have believed the book would appeal to these people because it dealt with a famous king from the country's past. Caxton's statements, therefore, confirm what we saw in the first chapter of this study, that opinion on this matter was clearly divided at the end of the fifteenth century. Caxton then turns to another recommendation for the book. He says, of course, that it is 'plesaunte to rede in'(cxlvi) and is therefore an entertaining narrative, but at the same time he claims that it is also a work of moral instruction and hence valuable in that way also. As he says in a very familiar passage: And I, accordyng to my copye, have doon sette it in enprynte to the entente that noble men may see and lerne the noble actes of chyvalrye, the jentyl and vertuous dedes that somme knyghtes used in tho dayes, by whyche they came to honour, and how they that were vycious were punysshed and ofte put to shame and rebuke; humbly bysechyng al noble lordes and ladyes wyth al other estates, of what estate or degree they been of, that shal see and rede in this sayd book and werke, that they take the good and honest actes in their remembraunce, and to folowe the same; wherin they shalle fynde many joyous and playsaunt hystoryes and noble and renomed actes of humanyté, gentylnesse, and chyvalryes. For herein may be seen noble chyvalrye, curtosye, humanyté, frendlynesse, hardynesse, love, frendshyp, cowardyse, murdre, hate, vertue, and synne. Doo after the good and leve the evyl, and it shal brynge you to good fame and renommée, (cxlv-cxlvi)

104 Arthur of England Though it may surprise us, what he is suggesting is that the Morte d'Arthur has value as a kind of medieval exemplum and that it is related, therefore, to didactic works such as Lydgate's Fall of Princes and to the tradition of the Nine Worthies when they are used as warnings against pride and ambition. His claim is that even if it is untrue the story of Arthur is still worthwhile because it contains moral lessons both to inspire and to warn its readers. In the sixteenth century, as the next chapter will show, the more sophisticated reading public began to move away from an interest in medieval romances, and in some quarters we even find actual hostility towards them. Two consequences follow from this as far as Malory's Morte d'Arthur is concerned. First, the work failed to inspire any major writer of the Renaissance period to write in the same vein and, significantly, no subsequent writer even used it as direct source material. As R.W. Wilson notes, '[Arthurian] borrowings in ... Renaissance writings are not numerous, even in Spenser.'14 Second, it comes under direct attack from those humanist writers who condemn medieval romances for their immorality and their propagation of popish doctrine. Ascham's attack in The Schoolmaster upon the book's glorification of 'open manslaughter and bold bawdy' is but the best-known example.15 Among the more sophisticated and learned readers of the sixteenth century Morte d'Arthur was neglected or scorned. What was its reception, however, by less critical and perhaps less well educated readers? What did they appreciate in the book? Before attempting an answer we must remember that the full story of Arthur's life and the adventures of the knights of the Round Table were probably not well known to many Englishmen at the end of the fifteenth century. Of course, the stories were readily available to those who could read French, and Frenchlanguage versions must have been fairly common in England. Some knowledge of Arthur no doubt passed from readers of French romances to people who knew only English, but this would have occasioned at best only a small extension of the circulation of Arthur's history. What was available before Malory for those who could read only English? As we saw in the previous chapter, there were romances that had Arthur or his knights as characters, but of these only La3amon's Brut, Of Arthur and Merlin, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, Lovelich's Merlin, and the Prose Merlin dealt in any major way with the life of Arthur. Of these, only the Brut and Arthur told the whole life of the king. By the middle of the fifteenth century, however, it is doubtful if anyone would have easily understood the language of the Brut even if, in the unlikely event, copies of it had been readily available. As for the

105 Malory short poem Arthur, it is no more than the briefest of summaries and was probably composed extemporaneously by the scribe who was copying the Latin chronicle in which it is found today. It could not have been widely known even in its own day. Of Arthur and Merlin, which was still being copied in the fifteenth century,16 must have had some popularity, but it was far from a complete life of Arthur and deals with the king only as a military figure. All the other romances listed above exist today only in single manuscripts and probably did not enjoy a wide contemporary circulation. We cannot assume, therefore, that much of Arthur's history was known at the end of the fifteenth century via the medium of English romances.17 For those people at the middle of the fifteenth century who read only English, whatever knowledge of Arthur they had would have had to come mainly from the various vernacular chronicles.18 We notice that Caxton cites the Tolycronycon' as his only English source for knowledge of Arthur's history (cxliv). These chronicles presented different accounts of Arthur's life and varied considerably in the amount of detail that they gave, but all of them depicted Arthur only as a soldier and world conqueror. None was concerned with the chivalry attached to Arthur's name and few told any deeds of Arthur's knights. In addition to the chronicles, the tournaments and pageantry at the English courts may have helped in a limited way to spread ideas about the chivalric aspects of Arthur's reign, while his association with the popular motif of the Nine Worthies may have circulated ideas about his great glory and his subsequent fall. At this point we should also recall Blake's suggestion that the great detail into which Caxton went in outlining the contents of Malory's work could itself be taken as an indication that the story of King Arthur was not widely known to the Englishreading public at this time.19 Even more informative, perhaps, is Caxton's comment that Arthur 'is more spoken of beyonde the see ... than ... in Englond' (cxlv). There can be no doubt of the popularity of Malory's book among the English-reading public, for despite its length and presumably, therefore, its relatively high price, enough copies were sold to warrant five editions before i6oo.20 The attacks of the humanist writers of the day upon the book, which they name specifically, show that it was widely read; otherwise, such writers would not have felt a need to criticize it.21 But what audience was it that received the story of Arthur with such enthusiasm? We have already rejected the learned and the sophisticated, who looked abroad for their literature. Just as certainly we can reject the mass of largely unlearned commoners, for as we shall see in the next chapter, their taste was simple

io6 Arthur of England and looked no higher than sensational romances of adventure or simplified versions of old stories in ballads. Malory's appeal, therefore, had to be to that literate but possibly somewhat conservative, affluent, bourgeois audience of urban middle-class readers, the same ones who tenaciously defended Arthur's historicity when it was assailed by the new wave of Renaissance historians. This was the audience that was willing and eager to accept Malory's Morte d'Arthur in the sixteenth century, in part because the book supported their belief in a historical King Arthur, but much more because they found it a good story about a way of life, chivalry, that they found attractive even if old-fashioned. Ultimately the greatest importance of Malory's Morte d'Arthur may well be, not the didactic purpose that the author saw in his work or the values that Caxton claimed for it to justify its publication, but rather that through it the history of Arthur and his knights became widely disseminated to an English-speaking audience that was ready and waiting for it in the sixteenth century.


Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period


ALORY'S Morte d'Arthur, published by Caxton in 1485, brought to an end the period in which genuine Arthurian literature was created. Throughout the Middle Ages the Arthurian theme had been a major subject for literary treatment, so much so that even in the first decade of the thirteenth century Jean Bodel, writing in France, had already classified the 'Matter of Britain' as one of the three main romance topics. From the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, first in verse and then in prose, Arthurian themes and the romance genre had gone hand in hand. After 1500, however, the situation changed. Arthurian subjects were no longer looked upon favourably by major writers, so that with the exception of Spenser's The Faerie Queene no Renaissance work of the first rank even indirectly derived its inspiration from Arthurian material. At the same time, the material also lost its dominant hold on a single genre. Although in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries works with Arthurian themes appear infrequently in most of the genres that make up Renaissance literature, they are never a major constituent of any one of them. Arthur as a subject for literary works is pushed more and more into the background. He never entirely disappears in the Renaissance period but he ceases to be important. Arthur's appeal came under attack for many reasons after 1500, and it is ironic that one of them was the newly aroused interest in him as a historical figure, which came about through his being used to bolster the claims of the reigning Tudor monarchs to the throne. As Merriman points out, this concern for him as a historic figure actually made him less suitable as a character in works of fiction, since all authors, not just those interested in establishing his place in British history, tended to avoid the romantic and supernatural elements in his story. Arthur's mysterious birth and final passing, the achievements of his knights, his betrayal by his wife and nephew,

io8 Arthur of England and the quest for the grail were all discarded as superstitious or fantastical. They were seen as events that cast doubt on the crucially important 'facts' of Arthur's existence.1 Stripped of his mysterious origins, of his fellowship of knights, and of his fatally attractive queen, Arthur emerged from the heated controversies of the historians lacking much of his poetic appeal and significance.2 Arthur also suffered from the general attack directed against all chivalric romances by the humanistic writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They objected to such romances for a variety of reasons. Erasmus and More, for example, disliked tyrants and tyranny in all their forms and were opposed to war and the glamour that was associated with it. They attacked romances because they saw them holding up for admiration antisocial ideals of a hero with superhuman qualities as well as giving false ideas about honour, glory, and the greatness of man. The influence of Erasmus, who held an overwhelming position in the minds of the educated people in the early sixteenth century,3 was particularly significant in this Renaissance criticism of the romance genre. Other writers opposed medieval chivalric romances because they judged them to be immoral. Roger Ascham's denunciation of Malory's Morte d'Arthur has already been cited, but though his remarks are perhaps the best-known they are no different in nature from the comments of at least a dozen other critics of the time. In 1523 Juan Luis Vives, who became Latin tutor to Princess Mary, wrote a Latin treatise on the education of women called De Institutione feminae christianae. A contemporary translation into English says: 'Therfore hit were conuenient by a comune lawe to put away foule rebaudy songes / out of the peoples mouthes: which be so vsed / as though nothyng ought to be songen in the cite / but foule and fylthy songes / that no good man can here without shame / nor no wyse man without displeasure.'4 Nathaniel Baxter in 'The Epistle Dedicator ye' to The Lectures or Daily Sermons, of that Reuerend Diuine, D. lohn Caluine (1578) also deplores contemporary reading tastes: 'We see some men bestowe their time in writing, some in printing, and mo men in reading of vile & blasphemous, or at lest of prophan & friuolous bokes, such as are that infamous legend of K Arthur (which with shame inough I heare to be newly imprinted) with the horrible actes of those whoremasters, Launcelot du Lake, Tristram de Liones, Gareth of Orkney, Merlin, the lady of the Lake, with the vile and stinking story of the Sangreal, of king Peleus, etc.'5 Last, we can quote John Florio, reader in Italian to Queen Anne and a groom of the privy chamber, who translated Montaigne's Essays

109 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period in 1603: 'For of King Arthur, of Lancelot du Lake, of Amadis, of Huon of Burdeaux and such idle time consuming and wit-besotting trash of bookes wherein youth doth commonly amuse itself, I was not so much as acquainted with their names.'6 The last objections to romances by humanist writers at this time were not so much based on general principles as on the consequences of contemporary circumstances. Romances were condemned for being propagators of false popish doctrine, something especially reprehensible in a country newly converted to Protestantism. In The Anatomie of Absurditie Nashe calls them 'the fantasticall dreames of those exiled Abbie-lubbers,' and in Toxophilus Ascham says that they 'were made the moste part in Abbayes and Monasteries, a very lickely and fit fruité for suche an ydle and blynde kinde of lyvyng.' Other writers somewhat snobbishly rejected the older romances because they were judged to be crude in style and valueless in content beside works of classical origin.7 Not all the writers of this period, however, automatically rejected the possibilities offered by the Arthurian story. Ben Jonson is supposed to have said to William Drummond in 1619 that the story of King Arthur could provide suitable material for 'a Heroik poeme,' while from the same source we learn that Sidney at one time at least intended to transform all his Arcadia into a selection of Arthurian stories.8 While not from the pen of a major writer, Lord Berners' translation of a fourteenth-century French romance, Artus de la Petite Bretagne, published about 1555 under the title of Arthur of Little Britain, points to an ongoing enjoyment of Arthurian-type marvels and adventures. We can only call the adventures of this story 'Arthurian-type,' for none derives from the subject matter of the authentic Arthurian cycle. Berners' romance is a fairy-tale in which Arthur first sees his beloved in a dream and then seeks for her human counterpart. This is an interesting anticipation of the situation that Spenser was to use later in The Faerie Queene. George Puttenham, in his The Arte of English Poésie (1589), even defends romances, including those with Arthur as their subject. In Book i, Chapter 10, he lists the subject-matter that poetry can properly use and includes in his enumeration, 'the worthy gests of noble Princes, the memoriall and registry of all great fortunes, the praise of vertue & reproof e of vice.'9 He justifies his statement by reference to his own work: 'And we our selues who compiled this treatise haue written for pleasure a litle brief Romance of historicall ditty in the English tong, of the Isle of great Brit aine, in short and long meetres . . . where the company shalbe desirous to heare

110 Arthur of England of old aduentures & valiaunces of noble knights in times past, as are those of king Arthur and his knights of the round Table, Sir Beuys of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, and others like.' (n 43-4) Whatever the learned critics had to say about romances, it seems to have made little difference to the reading habits of the general public in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They went on reading romances avidly. A few people still knew them in their manuscript form, such as that of Merlin, inserted into a Latin chronicle of the kings of Britain in the Liber Rubeus Bathoniae, or the fragments of Of Arthour and Merlin incorporated as late as 1560 into the MS Harley 6223 of the British Museum in a prose chronicle.10 A manuscript copy of the metrical Morte Arthur was owned by Robert Farrers in I570.11 Most people, however, read romances in printed form in the volumes put out by William Copland, John Kynge, Thomas Marsh, John Aide, Wynkyn de Worde, and the like.12 We have already seen how popular Malory's Morte d'Arthur was throughout this period, but other romance texts were equally so. Crane identifies four editions of Guy of Warwick between 1500 and 1569;° Ellison tells us that there were fourteen reissues of Huon of Bordeaux in the sixteenth century and nine Tudor editions of Bevis of Hampton.14 Wynkyn de Worde reissued three of Caxton's romances in addition to the Morte d'Arthur, before going on to print romances of his own choosing, while Copland, according to Bennett, printed a dozen or more romances between 1548 and I557.15 All of the works cited so far are old works; the first half of the sixteenth century saw no new chivalric romances created in England. By the third quarter of the century a desire for something new began to emerge. The public turned away from works inherited from the Middle Ages in favour of foreign romances from Spain and Portugal. The vogue of Spanish and Portuguese romances began about 1578 with the publication of Margaret Tyler's translation from Ortunez of the first part of The Mirrour of Princely deedes and Knightood,16 and soon romances with such exotic titles as Palmerin d'Oliva, Bellianis, Palladme of England, The Adventures of Brusanus, Prince of Hungarie, and Primaleon of Greece became available to satisfy a reading public demanding novelty.17 The romance remained popular right up to the early years of the seventeenth century, but at that time a major change in its reception took place. At the beginning of the Renaissance period the romance was still the favourite type of fiction for all classes of readers, and to some extent the love for French Arthurian texts that we noticed among the nobility in the medieval period still continued.18 Towards the end of the sixteenth

111 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period century, however, the romance had largely become the reading material of the middle and lower classes. Robert Laneham's Letter, written in 1575 to his friend Humphrey Martin, describes the library of a prosperous mason of Coventry, a certain Captain Cox, and Laneham's account probably indicates rather accurately the taste of the English middle class in Elizabethan times.19 The library had nearly two hundred books, of which Laneham gives the titles of 72. Four of these, a fairly high proportion, are Arthurian: King Arthurz book, either a copy of Malory or an abstract of the various French prose romances; Syr Lamwell, a version of Sir Launfal\ Syr Gawyn, which is The Jeaste of Sir Gawain\ and The Seaven Wise Masters, a collection of tales, in one of which Merlin is a character. By 1600, the taste for romances had degenerated even further, as they became almost exclusively the fare of the lower classes, though, as Wright notes, they always remained popular with women of all ranks of society.20 The Complaynt of Scotlande suggests the kind of literature that was popular with the lower classes. Its author wanders into the countryside where he meets some shepherds. The chief shepherd speaks at length, praising the pastoral life, until his wife rudely interrupts him and tells him to stop his 'tideus mélancolie orison.'21 The shepherds then turn to tale-telling. There follows a wonderful mix of romances, classical legend, fairy-tales, and history, including some Arthurian titles: the prophysie of merlyne, the tayle of syr euan, arthours knycht, gauen and gollogras, Lancelot du lac, Arthour knycht he raid on nycht vitht gyltin spur and candil lycht (63). Tom o Lincoln is one of the two new Arthurian romances written during this period. The work of Richard Johnson (1573-1659?), afreeman of London and a writer of elegies, ballads, pamphlets, and an antiquarian tract, as well as romances, its first part was entered in the Stationers' Register in 1599 and its second part in 1607. Although no edition has survived earlier than the sixth, which is dated 1631, there is no reason to assume that five editions had not preceded it. Certainly it was popular, for later editions appeared in 1635, 1655, 1668, 1682, and 1704. Critical assessments of Tom o Lincoln vary. Barber says of it merely that the story is 'completely invented and of little merit,' but Baker much more bluntly condemns the book as 'trash' and 'a vulgarization, in highflown language, of the romantic figures, [and] the chivalric ideals.'22 More neutral, Davis calls it a romance of the most fantastic kind but at least allows that it has a theme, that of the low-born hero rising to become a member of the nobility.23 Only Hirsch, its recent editor, has suggested Tom o Lincoln has merit, claiming that it is a moral work that at first

112 Arthur of England makes us admire the hero, then, when we see him justly punished for his misdeeds, makes us feel guilty for having admired him, and thus brings us eventually to a new sense of what is truly admirable.24 We may wonder, however, if Johnson has any intention other than to present a series of exaggerated adventures of the most fantastic kind. He employs all kinds of stock situations in the most mechanical way, and his romance is particularly noteworthy for its melodramatic use of the sensational and macabre. Angellica, for example, dies in a room 'hung all about with blacke' (67) after seven servers, each carrying a dish as if at a banquet and each suggesting a different manner of violent death, have come to her and compelled her to choose how she will die. Equally exaggerated is the style, which is ornate, rhetorical, and bombastic, and so close at times to the absurd that one might be forgiven for thinking that Johnson is writing a parody. In such a context, King Arthur, who comes to woo Angellica, is reduced to the level of a foppish simpleton: 'Faire of all faires, . . . deuine and beautious Paragon, faire Flower of London, know that since my aboad in thy Fathers house, thy beauty hath so conquered my affections, and so bereaued me of my liberty, that vnlesse thou vouchsafe to coole my ardent desires with a willing graunt of thy loue, I am like to dye a languishing death, and this Countrey England of force must loose him, that hath filde her boundes with many triumphant Victories' (7). The Arthurian framework of the romance adds nothing of thematic value to the work, nor does it significantly contribute a chivalric atmosphere or mood. It does, however, have some limited value for the plot since Lancelot, Tristram, and Triamore, three of Arthur's knights, can legitimately appear, but of these only Lancelot has a real role. He accompanies the Red Rose Knight to Fayerie-land and then goes to the city of Préster John, where he advises the Red Rose Knight not to fight a dragon. Lancelot, thus, plays the part in Tom o Lincoln that famous knights often played in medieval romances: he refuses, as a renowned champion, to do something that the hero of the work then proceeds to do. By contrast, the hero's bravery now seems much greater than if he had simply done the deed on his own. Arthur's court, too, has a traditional role in Tom o Lincoln, as a suitable place from which the hero can leave to seek adventure and to which he can later return in triumph to receive a princely welcome. A noticeable feature of Tom o Lincoln is the way Arthur and Guenevere are drawn as evil and immoral characters. Lowering the reputation of the king is not unusual in romances; we have already seen the process widely used in the medieval works of earlier centuries. What is unusual is the degree to which Tom o Lincoln blackens the royal couple. Arthur is an

113 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period adulterer, pursuing Angellica in a most besotted manner, and then, much worse, scandalously maintaining his liaison with her after she becomes a nun. At the point of death, he reveals the whole affair but in doing so shows that he has poorly judged the characters to whom he confesses, for his mistress is quickly murdered at the command of his vindictive queen and the Red Rose Knight's marriage is ruined because Anglitora is not willing to have the king's bastard son for her husband. Johnson's hero is low-born and his rise to fame and fortune is part of the dream of the lower classes to whom this romance is addressed, but there is another side to this consciousness of social rank: that is, the desire of the lower classes to mock irreverently the institutions and standards of those who are socially above them. Consequently, for Tom to join the nobility of the land is cause for empathetic celebration in the heart of every Tudor apprentice lad who reads the tale, but also, to laugh and jeer at those who in real life stand far above the apprentice is also cause for satisfaction. In part, therefore, Lancelot and Arthur are figures of fun in this romance and are made to look foolish by their actions and by the way they are described, such as when Lancelot is seen at the end as 'so old and lame that through his bruises in chiualry, hee seemed rather an impotent creature, then a Knight at Armes' (93). It is a clear sign of how little Arthur was revered among the lower classes in the sixteenth century that Johnson can freely take such scurrilous liberties with the king's character. The other new Renaissance Arthurian romance is Christopher Middleton's The History of Chinon of England.25 While it has the same zest for exaggerated adventure that we saw in Tom o Lincoln, it has none of its macabre atmosphere. Its world is that of splendid chivalry, and all the characters, pagans excepted, are admirable. In theme, however, it closely resembles Tom o Lincoln, in that it shows an unlikely character rising to fame. But Chinon is not of low birth like Tom. Rather he is the son of Cador, earl of Cornwall, but he has other handicaps. He is 'in his minde more than a maimed man, wanting that portion of sensible capacity which commonly doth accompany euen the meanest seruillitie' (7). He proves himself a valiant knight, however, and wins Cassiopeia, the daughter of the chief counsellor of the king of Egypt, as his bride. Arthur in Chinon of England is no more than a background figure, the head of a court of renowned chivalric knights. He is: 'Monarch of this little worlde, with his attendant Knights, whose valorous exployts, euery where acted for theyr Countries honour, hath eternized their euerliuing names, euen in the farthest coasts of the barbarous Pagans' (5). A few of his knights have small roles. Tristrem and Lancelot go to France and

114 Arthur of England take part in a tournament. In addition, in a newly invented love affair, Lancelot falls passionately in love with Laura, Chinon's sister. The main purpose served by these two knights in the story is to evoke the appropriate atmosphere of chivalry and to act as foils for the hero. They fail where he succeeds and so by contrast enhance his prowess. Neither Tom o Lincoln nor Chinon of England can properly be called Arthurian stories; at best they can only be described as having an Arthurian flavour. Nevertheless, that both authors would attach their stories to the name of Arthur and to his court is certainly a sign of the popularity of Arthur, at least as a fictional character, among the lower classes in England at this period. We know of nine Arthurian ballads from the Renaissance period. For the two earliest, we have only entries in the Stationers' Register, since their actual texts have not survived. One was entitled 'a pleasaunte history of an adventurus knyghte of kynges Arthurs Couurte' and was licensed to Richard Jones between July 1565 and July is66;26 the other, a 'ballade of the lewde life of Vortiger kinge of Bryttaine and of the firste commynge of Hingeste and the Saxons into this Lande,' was entered on 10 May, I589.27 The earliest ballad for which we have a text is Thomas Deloney's The Noble Actes of Arthur of the Round Table, which appears as poem number 8 in part i of The Garland of Good Will, published in 1631. Lawlis has suggested that an entry by Thomas Pavier dated i March, 1602 may refer to Deloney's ballad collection, but he would put the actual period of composition back even farther to between 1586 and I598,28 dates that match closely Howarth's suggestion that the poem was composed about I593.29 King Arthur and King Cornwall, The Legend of King Arthur, King Arthur's Death, The Boy and the Mantle, The Marriage of Sir Gawain, and Sir Lancelot du Lake are the other Arthurian ballads, and all of them appear in the badly damaged Percy Folio MS, a paper manuscript of the seventeenth century. King Arthur and King Cornwall, and The Marriage of Sir Gawain survive only as fragments, so that their plots have to be put together by comparison with other works. King Arthur and King Cornwall is a version of Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne, an Old French romance that was widely known in Britain.30 The Legend of King Arthur is based on Richard Lloyd's A Brief e Discourse ... of... the Nine worthies?1 or it may even have been composed by Lloyd himself.32 King Arthur's Death is a continuation of the Legend and owes some debts to Malory.33 Although Child cites numerous parallels for it, The Boy and the Mantle can be traced to no specific source.34 The Marriage of Sir Gawain also has no known source, but medieval parallels are widespread.35 Sir Lancelot du Lake seems to be a fragment from a

115 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period longer ballad. Probably based on Malory, it relates the victory of Lancelot over Sir Tarquin in single combat. Although it does not mention Arthur, the ballad is important because it shows the continuing late interest in Arthur's knights, especially when their stories can be reduced to simple action-filled adventures that pit a hero against an evil opponent. The ballads vary considerably in the way they treat King Arthur. Only The Legend considers the king an authentic historical figure, and for the most part this ballad is nothing but an impersonal summary of the facts found in the chronicles. But the note of grim satisfaction in Arthur's account of the ending of Lucius, 'Whose carkasse I did send to Roome,/ Cladd poorlye on a beere' (53-4), brings the king to life for us. King Arthur's Death, King Arthur and King Cornwall, and The Marriage of Sir Gawain are basically romance narratives recast in ballad style. The Boy and the Mantle, which in the manner of a folk-tale describes a trial of the fidelity of the wives at Arthur's court, stands apart from the other ballads in that it alone has virtually no plot. Its appeal lies in the account of the cynically humorous situation that of all the ladies only Craddok's wife is virtuous. If, as Gerould claims, the nature of ballads in general is to stress situation rather than story,36 then most of the Renaissance Arthurian ballads are not typical of their genre. They read more like cut-down simplified versions of the medieval romances from which they ultimately derive. No doubt this is that they were intended to be. As the romances moved lower and lower on the social scale to be read by less and less well-educated readers, we can assume that eventually they became either too long or too difficult for easy reading and so had to give way to something shorter and simpler. Retelling the stories or parts of them in ballad form solved the problem. After 1600, there was still an audience for authentic Arthurian stories, but it needed tales that had been stripped to the bare bones as with The Marriage of Gawain, or reduced to single episodes as in Deloney's The Noble Acts of Arthur. Turning now to the drama, the genre in which the greatest literature of this period was written, we are interested in two kinds of plays, both well represented on the Elizabethan stage. One is the romance drama; the other is the chronicle play. Neither made much use of Arthurian themes. There may have been romance plays associated with fairs, marriages, and village wakes in medieval times,37 but if so no records of them have survived. The earliest examples we know are two mid-fifteenth-century plays, 'at seint albons the last of Juyn a play of Eglemour and Degrebelle' and 'a play at Bermonsey of a knight cleped fflorence.'38 By the late sixteenth century, however, such plays are common, so much so that of the fifty-

116 Arthur of England two plays presented before Elizabeth between 1570 and 1585, twenty-four seem to be romances and the majority of these were apparently derived from medieval romances of chivalry.39 Arthur and his knights rarely appear on the post-medieval stage and there are no more than two references that even doubtfully suggest the existence of Arthurian romance plays. Listing the dramas presented at court in the 15705, Wilson names one as The Irish Knight and suggests that this may have been a play about Marhalt of Ireland from the Arthurian cycle.40 The other piece of evidence, slight and not entirely trustworthy because its author mentions every important source of romantic material except the Spanish pastoral, is Stephen Gosson's comment about the plays current in London in his day. In his Playes Confuted in Fine Actions (1582), he says: 'I may boldely say it because I haue scene it, that the Palace of pleasure, the Golden Asse, the Aethiopian historie, Amadis of Fraunce, the Rounde table, baudie Comedies in Latine, French, Italian, and Spanish, haue beene throughly ransackt to furnish the Playe houses in London.'41 The reference to 'the Rounde table' certainly suggests a play or plays with Arthurian themes but if one ever existed it has not survived. The chronicle play is more productive of Arthurian topics or topics related to them. To the Elizabethan sense that history was entertaining, instructive, and useful was added towards the end of the sixteenth century a feeling for national unity, patriotism, and England's glorification, which revived in a very specific way an interest in the country's past and in its heroes.42 This led to the rapid proliferation of chronicle plays, though it was a bubble that soon burst. According to Schelling, between 1590 and 1600 almost eighty chronicle plays were performed, but after 1610 subjects drawn from English history and myth are rare, and the choice of such subjects at this time could be regarded as virtually accidental.43 The story of Brutus and the long line of British kings was a rich source of material for dramatists in the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages;44 Gorboduc, Lo crine, King Lear, and Cymbeline are a few of the plays that utilize this subject-matter. Even so, plays actually set in the time of Arthur or close to it are not common. We have the texts of four. The first is The Misfortunes of Arthur by Thomas Hughes, presented for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth at Gray's Inn on 28 February 1588. The second is Ben Jonson's The Speeches at Prince Henries Barriers (1610), though it is a masque not a play. The third is Hengist, also called The Mayor of Queenborough, by Thomas Middleton. Although not published until 1661, it may well have been written as early as 1619 or i620.45 The last play is The Birth of Merlin, published in 1662 but again written much earlier, possibly soon after i620.46

i i y Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period Hengist and The Birth of Merlin have much in common. Each deals with the same events, the invasion of the British Isles by the Saxons and the wars between them and the British. The main plot of each play quickly takes up the theme of treachery and division among the British, and attributes these sins to the infatuation of a British king with a Saxon princess. The main plot of each is sensational and melodramatic, and makes no serious attempt to present history. Probably the subplots held the main appeal of both plays to contemporary audiences. In Hengist this subplot is farcical, and it was clearly popular since it eventually supplied the title by which the play is now best-known. Needless to say, the subplot has nothing to do with British history. Its characters are contemporary London citizens guilty of the sins of vanity, pride, and desire for power, and it provides comedy by exposing the London dignitaries to ridicule. The Birth of Merlin also has low-class people as subplot characters. This subplot is vigorous, coarse, and bawdy in spirit, but it jars too much with the main plot for the two to combine in a unified play. Neither Hengist nor The Birth of Merlin depends in any significant way upon the Arthurian cycle or upon British legendary history. To all intents and purposes they are what we today would call 'costume-plays' set ostensibly in the past; if the characters had had Italian names and the setting had been changed to Venice or Padua, the themes of the plays - lust, murder, and intrigue, relieved by low comedy - would have made the two 'Arthurian' plays indistinguishable from scores of other plays staged at this time. Jonson's intentions in The Speeches at Prince Henries Barriers are no more than to praise England by reciting the glories of some of her more recent kings and to pay compliments to James i and his son, but the work is at least genuinely Arthurian in that the king appears as one of the characters. The Arthurian legend is used first to create an atmosphere of chivalry and then to allow the appearance of Merlin in the role of prophet and teacher. After Arthur has appeared and told us, 'I, thy ARTHVR, am / Translated to a starre ... / ARCTVRVS, once thy king, and now thy starre' (65-6, 70), he goes on to promise that Henry will restore chivalry to England: 'Let him be famous, as was TRISTRAM, TOR, / LAVNC'LOT, and all our List of knight-hood' (86-7). Then Merlin praises the kings of England for their great deeds, beginning with Richard i and ending with James, the greatest of all. He foretells what lies in store for Henry: Not the deedes Of antique knights, to catch their fellowes steedes, Or ladies palfreyes rescue from the force

118 Arthur of England Of a fell gyant, or some score to vn-horse. These were bold stories of our ARTHVRS age; But here are other acts; another stage And scene appeares; it is not since as then: No gyants, dwarfes, or monsters here, but men. His arts must be to gouerne, and giue lawes To peace no lesse then armes.


In doing so he indicates very clearly that the Arthurian world and the romantic chivalric qualities it reputedly stood for have gone. Jonson's is a new world with values and preoccupations that have significantly changed. The one Renaissance dramatic work that attempts to make a play with a serious theme out of the Arthurian legend is The Misfortunes of Arthur, written by Thomas Hughes and others.47 Dated 1587, it was devised for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth and played before her in 1588. It is modelled on Thyestes, 'the most popular and the most gruesome of Seneca's tragedies,' with many of its lines being direct translations.48 Three of the themes in the play - a royal family that must expiate its sins, a discussion of good and bad conduct carried on in dialogue between major characters and wise subordinates, and views expressed on Fortune, worldly goods, and death - are all traditionally Senecan.49 In the same way the play's style and structure, with its formal five acts, its use of blank verse, its stichomythia, its soliloquies of self-analysis, and its moralizing choruses bringing each act to an end, all derive from the same classical source.50 Hughes, however, did more than just copy Seneca. He modified his material freely and his changes are as important as his borrowings, because they indicate the purposes to which he intended to put his play. The main non-Senecan feature of The Misfortunes of Arthur is that the royal family's evil is more than just domestic in its effect; Hughes shows it plunging the whole state into treason and civil war. The hero is also altered. Instead of making Arthur merely a member of a tainted dynasty, Hughes presents him much more as a virtuous man. Guenevere is changed from a guilty Senecan adulteress to a loyal repentant subject. Even Gorlois' ghost is not just the vengeful spirit that occasions the destruction of Arthur's kingdom, as his Senecan counterpart would have been; instead he talks of treason and civil war and contemplates their effects on the nation in a manner typical of a character in a chronicle play.51 Finally, because Elizabeth is portrayed as a 'braunch of Brute' (v.ii.ic), the family cannot be 'razed out' ( in typical Senecan manner as Gorlois has wished.52

119 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period The Arthurian legend is much more central to the story than in any of the other plays so far discussed. Arthur is the principal character, and the plot deals with some of the more dramatic episodes of his history, his return to England to deal with Guenevere's infidelity, Mordred's defiant rebellion, and the catastrophe that results, including his own death. Hughes, however, is no historian or romanticist interested in the story for its own sake, powerful though it is. He treats it as a vehicle to carry a political message of contemporary relevance. In general terms, the play emphasizes the need for loyalty to the crown and dwells on the horrors of rebellion and civil war.53 Usurpation of the throne is recognized as an impious crime that God will punish, and as the Chorus makes clear in act iv, such punishment will be extended to all those who accept the illegal rule of the usurper.54 Most critics, however, go beyond such generalities and see in the play a reference to the plots of Mary, Queen of Scots, to overthrow Elizabeth and to Elizabeth's unwillingness to put Mary to death for her actions. Mordred thus becomes a symbol for Mary and Arthur for Elizabeth.55 In an attempt to get around some of the problems posed by the equation of Elizabeth and Arthur, Waller makes a different equation, identifying Mordred as the younger Bothwell and Guenevere as Mary. Arthur, who can be taken as a man who is superstitious, prone to philosophize rather than act, and reluctant to punish traitors, now stands for James vi of Scotland. In Waller's view, Elizabeth is not any one character but the sum of all those who give good advice to Arthur.56 Lindabury is alone in seeing an entirely different message in the play. Noting that Elizabethan drama on the whole favours war because it brought honour and glory to men, he thinks that The Misfortunes of Arthur is one of the few plays that takes a contrary view by consistently portraying Arthur as the champion of peace.57 The merits of The Misfortunes of Arthur are few. Its characters, for example, are not credible but a more serious drawback is structural, the play's failure to connect the later action with the opening. At the beginning of the play, Gorlois demands justice against a sinful tyrant, but at the end pathos dominates when we see a good king crushed by events he cannot control. The significance of The Misfortunes of Arthur for our study is that Hughes saw in the Arthurian story a plot that suited his political needs. That he could take such liberties with Arthur's character and the tragedy of his death shows that by the early seventeenth century Arthur was no longer tied to medieval tradition. Arthur was not a historical figure for Hughes but one of legend, and consequently, the king's story could

120 Arthur of England be manipulated freely to suit the author's ends. But even so, Arthur was still considered a serious enough character that he did not seem out of place in tragedy. Some other writers in the early seventeenth century, however, still took Arthur's reign as historical fact. Robert Chester, for example, still seemed to accept Arthur as an authentic part of the country's past. He published his Love's Martyr in 1601, though some of the parts may have been composed a great deal earlier. The work is one of the many allegorical poems designed to praise Elizabeth. In the course of the narrative, Nature and the Phoenix fly from Arabia to Paphos. On the way they cross Britain, which prompts Nature to expound on the country's history. Passing Windsor Castle, she says that it was built by Aviragus and finished by King Arthur, whose life she then proceeds to narrate. Chester is clearly advocating the historicity of Arthur. He says bluntly that some writers declare that the British king never lived, that others have 'let slip the truth of this Monarch,' and that to the country's shame he is better remembered in French, Roman, Scottish, Italian, and Greek histories than in English.58 Singing Arthur's praises, Chester calls the king 'famous Arthur,' 'noble Arthur,' 'great Arthur,' and 'renowned Arthur.' Chester follows the chronicle tradition closely, but the emphases he places in the story are his own. For no obvious reason he tells the story of Uther and the begetting of Arthur at unusually great length, but the prominence he gives to the speeches of Cad or, Howell, and Angusel when they reply to the Roman demand for tribute may derive from his patriotic spirit as he depicts foreign foes stoutly defied by native speakers. The romance elements of the story apparently do not appeal to him. Lancelot is absent; there is no reference to the grail; Guenevere plays no part in Arthur's downfall. On the Roman campaign Arthur does not fight a giant nor does he have prophetic dreams. Writing as he is in the chronicle vein and playing down the romantic elements, Chester surprises us, however, when he departs from the traditional material at one point to set out a lengthy pedigree for Arthur that proves he descended from Joseph of Arimathea. Another work that still expresses a belief in Arthur as a real king is Thomas Heywood's Trota Británica, published in 1609. Called by Bush the 'last of the "historièal" leviathans,'59 it is a long poem on the history of Troy, and woven into its fabric are many interesting digressions on contemporary Elizabethan figures and affairs. The last two cantos tell the story of the arrival of Brutus in England, allowing Heywood the chance to chronicle all the British kings right down to James himself. The manner of treatment and the context of genuine kings into which Arthur is placed

I2i Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period suggest that Heywood took him seriously as a historical personage. Heywood had space for only a single stanza about each king, so his account of Arthur is brief and straightforward: Arthur the worthy, next the State ascended, Fought twelue set battailes, and the order made Of the Round Table, whose renowne extended Through all the world, whilst Arthur doth inuade Forraine Dominions, and Christs Faith defended, Mordred at home, his Crowne and Queene betrayde: Twixt whom, at Arthurs backe returne againe, War was commenst, in which both Kings were slain.


He was more enthusiastic about Arthur a little earlier in the poem, however, when he broke off his narrative in canto 2 to ask, How many an English Knight hath borne his head As hie as those, whom Troy or Greece hath bread?


Then, answering his own question, he lists some famous English warriors, including: Renowned Arthur famous in his age, In his round Table, and his thirteene Crownes, Hie Romes Imperious Senate felt his rage, and paid him homage in their purple Gownes, His Came'lot Knights their hardiments ingage, Through all the world to purchase their renownes.


Quite different is another lengthy poem, Michael Drayton's Poly-Olbion. Drayton, who loved all things British, early steeped himself in the country's medieval legends. His poem celebrates on a vast scale every aspect of 'Merry England' as he knew it. He planned the work as early as 1598 and entered the first part in the Stationers' Register in 1612. The second part was published before 1618. According to his principal biographer, Drayton intended the Poly-Olbion to be the great achievement of his life and it was a bitter disappointment to him that it was received with such coldness and neglect.60 He was an antiquarian speaking about a kind of past that few people seemed to care about anymore.

122 Arthur of England Drayton enthusiastically supported King Arthur saying, in Song vni: Out of whose ancient race [Troy's], that warlike Arthur sprong: Whose most renowned Acts shall sounded be as long As Britains name is known: which spred themselves so wide, As scarcely hath for fame left any roomth beside.


He organizes his work geographically, recalling the legends associated with each place in Britain he mentions. He writes of the Arthurian associations with the River Camel (Arthur's death), Glastonbury (Arthur's tomb), Camelot (the place of the Round Table), and Caerleon (Arthur's weapons and coronation). Drayton's friend, John Selden, illustrated and explained the poem's text in lengthy notes, but Selden's temperament is quite different from the poet's and represents the more modern contemporary attitude that was beginning to prevail towards early British history. Selden believes no accounts of any time before Caesar but says, 'to explaine the Author, carrying himselfe in this part, an Historical^ as in the other, a Chorographicall Poet, I insert oft, out of the British story, what I importune you not to credit.'61 He faithfully illustrates Drayton's references, and so in connection with the passage on the Camel he tells the story of Arthur's magically aided conception, but he cannot resist the cynical remark afterwards: 'Here have you a Jupiter, an Alcmena, an Amphitryo, a Sosias, and a Mercury, nor wants there scarce anything, but that truth-passing reports of Poeticall Bards have made the birth an Hercules' (Song I, 19-20). A work that openly sets out to put history to use is the Mirror for Magistrates. Following the pattern of Lydgate's Fall of Princes, it has as its purpose the teaching of political lessons by means of historical examples. In a series of imaginary dialogues, ghosts of figures from the past come forward to relate their unfortunate ends, the message being always the same - that the tragic hero has been marked out for God's vengeance because of his sin.62 The Mirror went through a series of revisions in editions from 1559 to 1610, each longer than the last as extra tragedies were added to the existing corpus. In 1574, John Higgins published tragedies dealing with British history from Brutus to the Christian era, but it was not until 1578, when Thomas Blenerhasset added a second series from Caesar to William the Conqueror, that the Arthurian cycle entered the work. In this series we find the story of Vortiger, with his lust for Hengist's daughter as its principal theme, and the account of Vter Pendragon, who also pays a price for illicit love. Finally, in the 1610 edition, Richard Niccols includes Arthur.

123 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period According to Brinkley, The ghost of Arthur is called up to tell his own story, which is given in great detail, following Geoffrey's account with extreme closeness except that all suspicion of Arthur's bastardy is refuted.'63 Nearing suggests that in the 1610 edition Niccols chose figures more for their dramatic appeal than for their didactic value, but what he saw in the case of Arthur was not a warning to the readers as the nature of the Mirror would lead them to expect, but an inspiration for them by virtue of his praiseworthy deeds.64 Only one writer of the first rank attempted an Arthurian work in the Renaissance period. Epic in proportion and allegorical in signification, Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queene at the narrative level is pure chivalric romance. Its ingredients are the staple ones of knights and ladies, castles and bowers, giants and fairies, forests, caves, and endless plains over which characters ceaselessly travel in pursuit of adventures. If the subject matter is a little old-fashioned for serious literature at the end of the sixteenth century, the language is also of the past with its archaic words and obsolete syntax. The names of some of the characters, such as 'two wicked Hags' one called 'Impotence' and the other 'Impatience' (ii.xi.23), or 'a gentle Husher, Vanitie by name' (i.iv.13), or Braggadochio, or Kirkrapine, or Sansfoy, clearly indicate that the poem has an allegorical nature, but the battles these characters fight with the different heroes are straightforward matters of lance and sword in the standard medieval manner. On the surface, therefore, The Fairie Queene tells a story of the kind met with in many medieval romances of chivalry. When we read the poem at this simple narrative level, however, we are left with a real sense of dissatisfaction, because the matter is not at all resolved into any coherent design. Stories are left with their ends ungathered, and the virtues that the poem proclaims are not wrought into any explicitly defined relationship with each other.65 When we turn to Arthur, the ostensible hero of the poem, our puzzlement increases.66 We realize at once, of course, that Spenser's Arthur is a new creation and that his adventures have been put into that conveniently empty period that the chronicles and romances do not deal with, the period between his reaching maturity and his becoming king.67 As Parker says: 'By placing the events in the time before Arthur was king, Spenser has with one stroke eliminated the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, Lancelot, Guinevere, Gawaine, Kay. His horse is Spumadore, his sword Mortdure, his squire Timias, his foster-father Timón.'68 Even if Spenser had gone on to finish his story with Arthur finding Gloriana, one suspects that none of the essential elements of the medieval story and nothing of its tragic spirit would have appeared.69

124 Arthur of England We can see why, in a negative way, Spenser was forced to drop so much of the Arthurian tradition. As soon as he decided to make his knights the representatives of the twelve moral virtues, Spenser saw that none of the traditional knights of the Round Table qualified for these parts. Lancelot, Kay, and Gawain had to yield to the likes of Guyon, Artegall, and Calidore. Equally important, when Spenser made Gloriana the mistress of an Order of Maidenhead, there was no longer a place in the poem for an Order of the Round Table with Arthur as its head. On the positive side, Arthur's traditional adventures disappear because Spenser's conception of Arthur is different. No longer the head of a chivalric court, Arthur becomes instead the allegorical figure of Magnificence, and the tasks he must perform to support his role have to be as new and different as the value that Spenser newly ascribes to him. The obvious place at which to start an investigation of Arthur's character and role in The Faerie Queene is the letter Spenser wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh on the publication of the first three books of the poem. In it, he proposes to discover 'the general intention and meaning' of the work by making the statement that Arthur is depicted in 'the image of a braue knight, perfected in the twelue priuate morall vertues' and that he represents 'magnificence in particular, which vertue ... is the perfection of all the rest.' Despite Spenser's words, however, many critics have read other qualities into Arthur, such as that he stands for the kingdom of England or the Christ of the Book of Revelations, that he is 'the good and perfect gift which comes down from the Father of Light,' or that he is a chivalric version of the mythological Hercules.70 Bennett gets around Spenser's equation of Arthur with Magnificence by claiming that the letter to Raleigh is a late rationalization on the author's part to explain the final shape of a poem that may have changed course many times in the process of composition.71 Let us assume, however, that Spenser meant what he said and that he needed as his principal character and hero a figure who would stand for the quality of Magnificence, a virtue that would somehow embrace and sum up all the other virtues. We would expect Spenser, therefore, to have followed the practice he had established with the individual heroes of each book and to have invented a character called Sir Magnificence or some other suitably identifying name. The poem's structure, however, may have demanded rather more than this. This character was intended to surpass all the other knights in the poem, and so perhaps a higher rank than a simple knight was called for. Furthermore, it was likely that Spenser intended to end the poem with some form of union, though not necessarily marriage, between his hero and Gloriana. Therefore, it was necessary for Magnificence

125 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period to be of royal rank, a prince at least if not a king. The question we must ask in this study, then, is not what Spenser's main character stands for - we can assume Magnificence, however that is defined - but rather why Spenser chose to equate this character with King Arthur, for in doing so he certainly created problems for himself, problems that he could have avoided by using an entirely fictitious allegorical character. We have already noted that though The Fairie Queene has an allegorical significance it is in form a medieval chivalric romance. Arthur was the greatest chivalçic figure that Renaissance authors inherited from their medieval past and for this reason alone was the obvious choice for Spenser's hero. Furthermore, by using Arthur's name, Spenser could put to use all kinds of ready-to-hand concepts of courtly chivalry, of knightly splendour, and of noble ideals. In addition, Arthur was a figure from antiquity, and by setting his poem thus in Arthur's days, especially in those even vaguer days of Arthur's youth for which no records of any kind existed, Spenser removed his work from his own day into a more uncertain time when allegory might have a freer rein to play its part. The setting in the vague past also allowed him to conceal more discreetly any contemporary allusions that he did not wish to make too embarrassingly obvious. Yet another reason for choosing Arthur as his hero was that Spenser, by then linking him with Gloriana, could compliment Queen Elizabeth, whom Gloriana stood for, by such an association. It also reminded people of the historical title to Elizabeth's throne, which she along with all the Tudor monarchs claimed. Finally, of course, the story of Arthur was popular among a segment of English society in the late part of the sixteenth century, and Spenser may have seen advantage for himself in addressing his poem to those people who enjoyed British history or British legends. Spenser, therefore, took a figure who was for many a national symbol and tried to remodel him in an entirely different way. But the odds were clearly too great for him to succeed. Arthur's story was too well known for an author to take such great liberties and hope to get away with them in a serious work.72 The established story resisted excessive manipulation and augmentation, and reader expectations were too rigid to allow the new perspectives to drive out the old. Cummings, in Spenser: The Critical Heritage, quotes some 161 pages of contemporary criticism written between 1579 and 1660, and it is enlightening to note in them that no one talks of The Fairie Queene as an Arthurian work that continued a tradition inherited from the Middle Ages, or thinks of it as developing a new tradition about Arthur. Spenser's poem seems to have been well received by the poets of his own day, but

126 Arthur of England it never enjoyed wide fame among the reading public at large.73 Cummings suggests in fact that many of the early readers may have been 'overwhelmed and confused' by the work.74 If Cummings is right in this idea, part of the reason for their confusion may well have been the manner in which Arthur was treated. Indeed, there were probably two quite different categories of reader for this work. Some, among whom Cummings includes John Milton and Henry More, took the poem as a moral allegory,75 but others clearly regarded it as a romance 'with the Stories of the Knights, and Giants, and Monsters, and brave Houses.'76 This latter group must have had particular trouble with Spenser's view of King Arthur. Judged as a work built on a story with Arthur as its central figure, The Fairie Queene must be seen as deficient.77 Yet the very fact that Spenser found it so difficult to create a convincing Arthur with new values and new deeds is in itself important testimony that there was still enough life and vitality in the old traditions for them to resist Spenser's new directions. To sum up the treatment of Arthur in the literature of the Renaissance period, we see that after 1500 the attitudes ceased to be those that had prevailed in the Middle Ages. In the first place, despite the official Tudor interest in Arthur, there was increasing scepticism about the historical figure of the medieval chronicles. Consequently, he was kept alive chiefly for political ends or from a love of things antiquarian. Out of the small core of facts that were still accepted, there was little material that readily lent itself to literary adaptation. In the works of Chester, Drayton, and Heywood, we sense an atmosphere more of antiquarian curiosity than of literary vitality. The humanist attacks upon the medieval romances had severely reduced the audience that still found the old tales of chivalry rewarding, but even so some interest in the story of Arthur and his knights remained if only as fiction, as the production of fresh editions of Malory clearly indicate. However, any desire that Elizabethan and Jacobean writers expressed to retell the story did not result in new versions of the legend. The idea of an Arthurian work seems still to have had an appeal, but in practice no major writer took it up except Spenser, and he changed the traditional material so radically that really only the name of Arthur was preserved. What creativity there was in treatments of the traditional narrative in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries existed only at the unsophisticated level of the ballad. A few writers did attempt to capitalize on the appeal of Arthur's name by attaching new stories to it, either in prose romance (Tom o Lincoln and Chinon of England) or in drama (Hengist and The Birth of Merlin). In such cases the Arthurian world still provided a convenient

127 Arthurian Literature in the Renaissance Period background setting, but its value was little more than this. These new works gave their readers fabulous heroes and fantastic adventures. In addition they satisfied the social attitudes of their lower-class audiences either by burlesquing and parodying the values of the upper classes or by showing that lower-class figures could rise in the world and emulate people of higher birth. The Misfortunes of Arthur and The Fairie Queene alone in the Renaissance period attempt in a serious way to adapt Arthurian material to new uses. Though very different in literary method and achievement, both were ultimately unproductive in establishing new treatments of the cycle. In particular Spenser's use of Arthur as an allegorical figure inspired no writer of the period in emulation. Both works proved to be once-only ventures and no similar works succeeded them. After them, the literary inspiration provided by the Arthurian legends virtually ceased until it appeared again revitalized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

1 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature


UR INTENTION in this chapter is to consider what Arthur meant to writers other than those who had an immediate and perhaps professional interest in him. We have seen how the historians, who had no choice but to take account of him one way or another, faced up to their task. We have also seen what use romance writers and others made of the Arthurian themes to create works of entertainment or instruction. But what of those authors in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance who were not sufficiently attracted to the subject to want to write specifically Arthurian stories? What did they know of Arthur and his knights and to what use did they put that knowledge? In the early part of our period we know something of Geoffrey Chaucer, a major writer who seemed to think little of romance in general and of Arthurian romance in particular.1 Gollancz says: 'Arthurian romance, as material for depicting chivalry or for other poetical purposes, had no attraction for Chaucer. The machinery was for him obsolete, and "th'olde dayes of King Arthour" made no serious appeal to his imagination.'2 Brewer, however, disagrees. He suggests that Chaucer may have written an Arthurian poem, arguing that his last work on the book of the Lion may be a version of Chretien's Le Chevalier au Lion.3 Whatever the truth of this may be, it is a fact that no surviving work of Chaucer has an Arthurian character as its hero. The Wife of Bath's Tale, however, has at least an Arthurian setting. The story takes place in 'th'olde dayes of the king Arthour' (0857) and the guilty knight is 'a lusty bacheler' of his court (0883). Consequently, it is to Arthur that the knight is brought to be judged and by the king that he is condemned to death (0890-1). How important is this tale when we try to assess Chaucer's attitude to stories of Arthur?

129 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature The exact source that Chaucer used for The Wife of Bath's Tale is not known, so we cannot say whether he simply inherited and carried over the Arthurian setting from his source. Of the two analogues usually cited for this tale, one, The Wedding of Sir Gawain, is clearly an Arthurian tale but the other, Gower's Tale of Florent, just as certainly is not. In any case the Arthurian setting is not very important in The Wife of Bath's Tale. The emphasis is upon the individual knight who commits the crime and who must make amends. He is so little a part of Arthur's traditional list of knights that he is quite anonymous, referred to only as 'the knight.' The Wife of Bath, of course, has little respect for men of any kind, as we see from her comments on her different husbands, her rebuttal of the Pardoner when he interrupts her, and her contempt for contemporary friars who do 'dishonour' (0881) to women as they walk about the land. It might appeal, therefore, to her sense of scathing humour that a knight of Arthur's celebrated court should so disgrace himself as to attack a helpless maid, and this would, no doubt, reinforce her low estimation of men. King Arthur himself, however, behaves with credit, immediately seeing that justice is done and sentencing the guilty knight to death. Furthermore, the old hag's sermon on 'gentillesse' does not suggest a poet lacking sympathy for the ideals of the courtly world. It may, therefore, be a matter of small moment that the setting of The Wife of Bath's Tale happens to be Arthur's court. Chaucer did not write Arthurian tales any more than his contemporary John Gower did. The explanation may be, as Loomis says, that there was a marked decline in interest in things Arthurian at the court and in London between 1350 and the accession of the Tudors.4 If this is true, Chaucer and Gower in neglecting Arthur may not be following their own inclinations but may be doing no more than accommodating the tastes of the contemporary audiences that they hoped to please. We can speak with certainty on the topic of what medieval and Renaissance writers in general thought of Arthur only when we have their statements before us. No one to my knowledge has attempted to analyse a body of material to show the extent of Arthurian references in Middle English and Renaissance literature generally. The catalogue below begins to assemble such a corpus. No claim is made for completeness in the quotations gathered here, but I have attempted to cover works from the whole period from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, to cover all genres, and to consider a wide range of authors, minor as well as major. I believe that the coverage of quotations is sufficiently wide to be representative of the entire field. In the Appendix (pp 171-2) I list those works examined that failed to provide

130 Arthur of England Arthurian allusions. Such a list is as important as the material below because by indicating where Arthur did not appear we show the limits to the breadth of contemporary interest in Arthurian material. The Arthurian material found in non-Arthurian works is listed in the following catalogue. i c 1250 Friar Thomas de Hales'Love Ron 65-8 Hwer is paris heleyne jDat weren so bryht & feyre on bleo, Amadas & dideyne, tristram, yseude and allé {DCO

il c 1300 The Thrush and the Nightingale 88-93 [The Thrush attacks the constancy and fidelity of women] I take witnesse of sire wawain, I>at ihesu crist 3af mi3t and main And strangle for to fi3tte, So wide so he heuede I-gon, Trewe ne founde he neuere non Bi daye ne bi m'3tte in 1300-25 Cursor Mundi 9-14, 17-18 [The poet lists topics that people like to hear about] O kyng arthowr J^at was so rike, Quam non in hys tim was like, O ferlys JDÛt hys knythes fell, I>at aunters sere I here of tell, Als wawan, cai and oj^r stabell, For to were JDC ronde tabell [Of] tristrem and hys leif ysote, How he for here be-com a sote iv c 1320 Annot and Johon 47 [The poet praises his mistress by a series of comparisons, one stanza being devoted to heroes from saga, romance, and legend] Cud ase cradoc in court carf JDC brede v c 1330 Sir Beues of Hamtoun [Beues defeats a dragon and no one excelled him]

131 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Saue sire Launcelet de Lake, He fau3t WÍ]D a fur drake (Auchinleck 2603-4) [Sir Guy, the son of Sir Beues, gets a sword] A nobull sword he gan hym take, That was Launcelottes the Lake; In the hilte was a charbokyll-stone (Paper MS No 8009 4163-5)

ivi c 1330 An English version of Quy a la Dame de Paray s 243-6 Dove 22 [Gawain takes his place among the famous heroes betrayed by women] & y were as douhti a swai(n) as was Samson, er he w(as schorn), or al so wi3t so was Waw(ain), or Salamon, J}at was (wisest born)

vu 1333-52 Minot Poem vu i-io [Merlin as a prophet. The prophecy is not cited here in full] Men may rede in romance right Of a grete clerk J^at Merlin hight; Ful many bokes er of him wreten, Als f>ir clerkes wele may witten; And 3it in many priue nokes May men find of Merlin bokes. Merlin said £>us with his mowth, Out of fce north into J>e sowth, Suld cum a bare ouer l^e se I>at suld mak many man to fie

vin 14th century The Parlement of the Thre Ages 464-8 [The reference to Arthur here is not so much an allusion as part of the subject matter of the poem. It is included for the sake of completeness. Arthur's description is forty-nine lines long; only the opening lines are quoted here] Areste was Sir Arthure, and eldeste of tyme, For allé Inglande he aughte at his awnn will, And was kynge of this kythe, and the crowne hade. His courte was at Carlele comonly holden, With renkes full ryalle of his rownnde table

132 Arthur of England ix 14th century The Parlement of the Thre Ages 606-9 [The author lists the Wise Men who have succumbed to death: Aristotle, Vergil, Solomon, and Merlin] Merlyn was a meruayllous man and made many thynges, And naymely nygromancye nayttede he ofte, And graythe[d] Galyan a boure to [gete] hyr J)er-in, That no wy scholde hir wielde ne wynne from hym-seluen

x I4th century The Parlement of the Thre Ages 624-5, 629. [The poet gives a list of lovers who have yielded to death's power. Examples are from romance, the classics, and the Bible] And Sir Tristrem the trewe, full triste of hym-seluen, And Ysoute his awnn lufe, in erthe are jDay bothe And Dame Gaynore the gaye, nowe grauen are thay bothen

xi 14th century Each Man Ought Himself to Know 93-4 [Death overtakes all men] Arthur and Ector ]Dat we dredde, Deth haj) leid hem wonderly lowe

xii 1360-80 Patience 187-8 [The pilot searches the ship and finds Jonah asleep] I>e freke [the pilot] hym frunt with his fot and bede hym ferk vp; t>er Ragnel in his rakentes hym rere of his dremes!

xiii Late 14th century The Seven Sages of Rome [One of the tales is about Herowdes, the emperor of Rome. Merlin overcomes Herowdes' seven evil counsellors] xiv Late I4th century Death and Life 338-41 [Death boasts of all the people she has killed] Arthur of England, & Hector the keene, Both Lancelott & Leonades, with other leeds manye, & Gallahault the good Knight, and Gawaine the hynde, & all the rowte I rent ffrom the Round Table xv Late I4th century The Romance of Sir Dégrevant 17-19, 234, 29-30 [The story opens in an Arthurian setting]

133 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature With Kyng Arthure, I wene, And Dame Gaynore ]DC quene, He was knawen for kene With Perceuelle and Gawayne, For hardy and wyghte JDay named [him] J^at stownde Knyghte of JDC Table Rownde xvi Late I4th century The Romance of Sir Dégrevant 1481-4 [Melidor's chamber is splendidly decorated. On the walls are pictures of the three Christian Worthies] Kyng Charles with croun, Godfraye de Boloyne, Sir Arthure de Bretayne, With jDaire bryght brandes xvii c 1365 Chaucer The Romance of the Rose Largesse, that worthy was and wys, Held by the honde a knight of prys, Was sib to Arthour of Bretaigne (i 197-9) Thou mayst ensample take of Keye, That was somtyme for misseying, Hated bothe of olde and ying; As fer as Gaweyn, the worthy, Was preysed for his curtesy, Keye was hated, for he was fel Of word, dispitous and cruel (2206-12) xviii 1370-80 A Disputation Between a Christian and a Jew 185-8 [A Christian and a Jew debating the nature of the true God pass through a hill into a paradisal place where they see before them Arthur and his knights] And al {DC Rou«d table good, Hou Arthur in eorj^e 3od, Sum sat and sum stod O JDC grounde grey

134 Arthur of England xix 1375 Harbour The Bruce i 549-58 [Harbour gives examples of famous men killed by treachery] Als Arthur, that throw chevalry Maid Bretane maistres & lady Off xij kin[rykis] that he wan; And alsua, as A noble man, He wan throw bataill fraunce all fre; And lucius yber wencusyt he, That then of Rome wes emperour: Bot 3eit, for all his gret valour, Modreyt his Syst/r Son him slew, And gud men als, ma then Inew xx c 1375 Chaucer The Parlement ofFowles 290 [Chaucer lists famous lovers] Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles xxi c 1378 Chaucer The House of Fame 1796-7 [A reference to men who want to be so reputed for honour that even Iseult will not refuse them her love] And that men wende that bele Isaude Ne coude hem noght of love werne xxii c 1380-8 Chaucer To Rosemounde 20 That I am trewe Tristam the secounde xxiii c 1385 Chaucer The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women B254

[Women famous for different qualities are told to hide their virtues in the presence of his lady] Hyde ye your beautés, Isoude and Eleyne xxiv c 1385 Chandos Herald The Life of the Black Prince page 150 [A comparison of Edward in] ... the King of England, of such noble disposition, for God had given him such virtue that since the time of King Arthur there was no king of such power ... xxv c 1387 Chaucer The Squire's Tale 95-7 That Gawain, with his olde curteisye,

135 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Though he were come ageyn out of Fair ye, Ne coude him nat amende with a word xxvi c 1387 Chaucer The Squire's Tale 283-7 Who coude telle yow the forme of daunces, So uncouthe and so fresshe contenaunces, Swich subtil loking and dissimulinges For drede of lalouse mennes aperceyvinges? No man but Launcelot, and he is deed. xxvii c 1390 Chaucer The Nun's Priest's Tale 4401-3 This storie is al-so trewe, I undertake, As is the book of Launcelot de Lake, That wommen holde in ful gret reverence xxviii 1393 Gower Confessio Amantis iv 2034-8 [In the old days prowess led to love and love led to prowess] For if thou wolt the bokes rede Of Lancelot and othre mo, Ther miht thou sen hou it was tho Of armes, for thei wolde atteigne To love xxix 1393 Gower Confessio Amantis vi 471-5 [Confessor warns against drunkenness] Hou Tristram was of love drunke With Bele Ysolde, whan thei drunke The drink which Brangwein hem betok, Er that king Marc his Eem hire tok To wyve, as it was after knowe

xxx 1393 Gower Confessio Amantis vin 2500-3 [Cupid leads a dance of young people who have fallen in love] Ther was Tristram, which was believed With bele Ysolde, and Lancelot Stod with Gunnore, and Galahot With his ladi. xxxi 1399 Gower In Praise of Peace 281-7 See Alisandre, Ector and Julius,

136 Arthur of England See Machabeu, David and Josué, See Charlemeine, Godefroi, Arthus, Fulfild of werre and of mortalité. Here fame abit, bot al is vanité; For deth, which hath the werres under fote, Hath mad an ende of which ther is no bote xxxii c 1400 The Romance of Emare 133-8 [Portraits of famous lovers are embroidered in the corners of a rich robe] In \>at Q\*ur corner was dyght, Trystram and Isowde so bry3t, That semely wer to se; And for jDey loued hem ryght, As fulle of stones ar J)ey dyght, As thykke as J)ey may be xxxiii c 1400 The All-Virtuous She 22-3 [The poet seeks comparisons to praise his lady's virtues] Beauté surmounting with feyre Rosamounde, And with Isawde for to beo secree xxxiv 1400-25 The Metrical Version of Mandeville's Travels 2131-5 And afftirwarde longe tyme Vter Pendragon and Merlyne Thoo stoones froo thens they fette And here in Engelond thei ham sette Vppon the plaine of Salisbury xxxv 1400-25 The Metrical Version of Mandeville's Travels 2593-4 [Reference to Alexander recalls the Nine Worthies to the poet and he lists them by name] And thoo three cristenne was kinge Charles certain And Arthoure and Godfray of Bolain xxxvi 1403-6 Mum and the Sothsegger 1565-6 There is a raggeman rolle J^at Ragenelle hymself Hath made of mayntennance and motyng of IDC peuple

137 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature xxxvii 1403-6 Mum and the Sothsegger 1723-4 Yit is {Dere a poynt of prophecie how {DC peuple construeth And museth on f>e meruailles })at Merlyn dide deuyse xxxviii c 1408 Lydgate Reson and Sensuallyte 3140-55 [Diana regrets that the world is not what it was. Only the first four lines relating to Arthur are quoted] Yt was not wont for to be soo In tyme of the kyng Arthour, The noble, worthy conquerour, Whom honour lyst so magnyfye xxxix c 1408 Lydgate Reson and Sensuallyte 3174-89 [Diana contrasts the present with the past. Only the opening lines of the quotation are given] And, as the story telleth vs, Which the trouthe lyst nat fey ne, How the knyghtes of Breteyne, Most renomyd and most notable, With Arthour of the rounde table, The myghty famous werriours, Lovede the dayes paramours, Gentilwymmen of high degré XL c 1408 Lydgate Reson and Sensuallyte 3751-5 [Diana lists the perils of the Garden of Pleasure] In this gardyn eke also, Who that kan take hede ther-to, Therin be beddes perilouse, More dyuers and more mervelouse Than was the bed of launcelet XLI c 1408 Lydgate Reson and Sensuallyte 6021-6 [The poet describes the rich beauty of a chessboard] For in this worlde, I dar wel seyn, Wer neuer noon so ryche seyn Of o o Meyne a-rowe sette, Nat thilke chesse that launcelet Pleyed on with quene Guenore Ne wer nat lyke for neuer a fore

138 Arthur of England XLII 1412-20 Lydgate Troy Book 'Lenvoye' 1-4 [Praise of Henry v] Most worjri prince, of kny3thod sours & welle, Whos hi3e renoun jDoru3 JDC world do{} shine, And allé oj^er in manhood dost excelle, Of merit égal to JDC worjri nyne

XLIII 1415 Hoccleve To Sir John Oldcastle 193-5 [A plea to Oldcastle to leave heresy and read more innocuous material] Bewar Oldcastel / & for Crystes sake Clymbe no more / in holy writ so hie! Rede the storie of Lancelot de lake

XLIV Early I5th century Lydgate Merita Missae 156-65 [Christ is referred to as a king and then the Christian Worthies are described] Artowr com aftyr full sonne, And conqueryde into grette Rome. He was the beste, I ondyr-stonde, That Euyr was kyng in Inglonde. He bare portred far and nere Owyr lady and her sonne dere, And whan he was in any care, He prayd to the Image euyr mare; And as fay ne he wolde hys mas here, As any preste or any freer

XLV Early I5th century Lydgate That Now Is Hay Sometime Was Grass 81-5 [The Nine Worthies are cited as illustrations of the world's 'transmutación5] Arthur, most worthy of renowne, And Charls, the myghty emperowre, And good Godfray of Bolyoune, Of knyghthod clepyd susteynoure, What was the fyne of theyr laboure?

XLVI Early 151x1 century


Lydgate The Complaint of the Black Knight

139 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature [A list of lovers who have died or suffered for love] What shal I say of yong[e] Piramus? Of trwe Tristram for al his high renovne? XLVII 1420-5 Lydgate The Assembly of Gods 466, 469 [Átropos reminds the gods that it is his office to bring death] Dauid, nor losue, nor worthy Artour, cowde me nat astert XLVIII 1430 Lydgate Ballade to King Henry vi 13-16 Arthour was knyghtly, and Charlies of gret prys, And of allé f>eos J)y grene tendre aage By JDC grace of God, and by His avys, Of manly prowesse shal taaken a terrage XLix 1431-8 Lydgate The Fall of Princes vin 2661-3206 [Lydgate tells the story of Arthur and his court in order to draw the moral that all princes should 'bewar of fais tresoun*] [Arthur] Curteis, large and manly of dispence, Merour callid off libéralité, Hardi, strong and of gret prouidence (2717-19) [Arthur's court] Hedspryrtg of honowr, of largesse cheef cisterne, Merowr of maw hod, of noblesse the lanterne (2855-6) L 1438 The Scottish Alexander Buik page 405 [A somewhat different version of the Nine Worthies] Of thir thre christin men I can tell heir, That neuer na better in warld weir, Arthur that held Britane the grant, Slew Rostrik that stark gyant, That was sa stark and stout in deid, that of Kingis beirdis he maid ane weid, The quhilk Kingis alluterly, War obeysant to his will all halely, He wald haue had Arthouris beird, and failzeit for he it richt weill weird,

140 Arthur of England On mount Michaell slew he ane, that sik ane freik was neuer nane LI c 1440 Ane Ballet of the Nine Nobles 37-42 Arthur wan Dace, Span3e, and France, And hand for hand slew tua giantis; Lucius the publik procurateur Of Rome, wytht milleonis in stalwar stour; And in till Pariss Schir Frollo, In lystis slew wyth [other] mo LII 15th century The Lover's Mass 184 [The poet looks back at his 'predecessours in love9] The secre trouthe of Trystram and y soude LUI 15th century Early Mumming-Play on the Nine Worthies 13-14 [Arthur says] The Round Tabyll I sette with knyghtes strong, 3yt shall I come a3en, thow it be long LIV 15th century The Cock in the North 49-52 i>e lion and JDC lionasse shall règne in pese. This bridlyngton, bede, bokis, and Banaster tellis, Thomas, and merlyon, the same with-outen lèse, They recorden and other that with prophecy mellis LV 1450-75 The Floure and the Leaf e 502-4, 512-15 [At the end of the poem a lady explains the allegory] Tho nine crowned be very exemplaire Of all honour longing to chivalry, And those, certaine, be called the Nine Worthy And tho that beare bowes in their hond Of the precious laurer so notable, Be such as were, I woll ye understond, Noble knights of the Round Table LVI 1450-75 The Battle of Barnet 21-2 [The poet praises Edward iv]

141 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Of a more famous knyght I neuer rad Syn the tyme of Artors dayes LVII 1456 The Bisson Leads the Blind 1-2 ffulfyllyd ys JDC profesy for ay I>at merlyn sayd & many on mo LVIII 1456 Coventry Leet Book page 113 [Arthur speaks from the sixth pageant] I, Arthur, kynge crownyd and conquerour, That yn this lande reyned right dally; With dedes of armes I slowe the emperowr; The tribute of this ryche reme I made downe to ly Ihit unto [you], lady, obey I mekely, LIX 1468 The Pasión Letters n 318 [John Paston writes from Bruges] And as for the Dwkys coort, as of lords, ladys and gentylwomen, knyts, sqwyers, and gentylmen, I hert never of non lyek to it, save Kyng Artourys cort LX Late 15th century Caxton Godeffroy of Boloyne page 2 [The deeds of illustrious men should be remembered. The Nine Worthies are referred to by name. Arthur is seventh] as for the best and worthyest, I fynde fyrst the gloryous / most excellent in his time / and fyrst founder of the round table / Kyng Arthur, kyng of the brytons, that tyme regnyng in this Royamme / of whos retenue were many noble Kynges, Prynces / lordes and knyghtes, of which the noblest were knyghtes of the round table, of whos actes and historyes ther be large volumes, and bookes grete píente and many LXI c 1478 Henry the Minstrel Schir William Wallace [Wallace attacks his foes fiercely] Wallace off hand, sen Arthour, had ne make (vin 845) [Wallace replies to the English offer to make peace] Off your gold rek we nocht; It is for battail that we hydder socht We had leuir haiff battaill off Ingland, Than all the gold that gud king Arthour fand On the mount Mychell, quhar he the gyand slew (vin 883-7)

142 Arthur of England LXII c 1478 Henry the Minstrel Schir William Wallace vin 965-8 [The poet asks if anyone occupied England without a fight, as Wallace did without opposition from Edward] Gret Julius, the Empyr had in hand, Twyss off force he was put off Ingland. Wycht Arthour als, off wer quhen that he prewit, Twys thai fawcht, suppos thai war myschewit LXIII c 1478 Henry the Minstrel Schir William Wallace xi 841 [Examples of famous people who have died through cowardice] Throuch cowatice deit Arthour off Bretane LXIV c 1500 The Romance of Partenay 88-97 Thinges of long time passyd in contre, When rehersid is, pleasith hertes fre; Aunc/on thinges wich ben good and fayre, As to speke of king arthure debonayr, How he wold preue his vertu and manhede With noble knightes and peple worthi; Many of hym spekith at thys hour in-dede; And so thai don of lancelet sureli, Wher ful good loos had ryght ful preysingly; Of perceuale also, And of Gawayn LXV c 1500 The Romance of Partenay 5748-51 [An English knight is introduced, who comes from Arthur's court] In the hy court of noble king Arthure, Where knyghtes were taught uertu perfectly. Off Tristram-is line was hys engendrure, Which J3ut whilom had full gret seignory LXVI c 1500 The Romance of Partenay 5972-3

[After the English knight's death, his page tells his story to] A good deuyn, Which somtyme was clerke Merlyn vnto LXVII c 1500 Erthe upon Erthe MS Balliol 354, 33 [All the Worthies eventually succumb to death] Arthur was but erth, for all his renown

143 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature LXVIII c 1500 The Squire of Low Degree 77-80 [The Squire wishes he had qualities that would make him a good lover] Or els so bolde in eche fyght, As was Syr Lybius that gentell knyght, Or els so bolde in chyualry As Syr Gawayne, or Syr Guy [A similar but longer allusion is made to Libeaus, 613-25] LXIX c 1500 Skelton Philip Sparrow page 78 [The young girl wants an epitaph for her sparrow and rehearses all her reading, seeking 'terms to serve her mind'] And though that read have I Of Gawain and Sir Guy, And tell can a great piece Of the Golden Fleece, How Jason it wan, Like a valiant man; Of Arthur's Round Table, With his knights commendable, And Dame Gaynour, his queen, Was somewhat wanton, I ween; How Sir Lancelot de Lake Many a spear brake For his lady's sake; Of Tristram, and King Mark, And all the whole wark Of Belle Isold his wife, For whom was much strife LXX c 1502 Valentine and Orson page 292 [Berthe, wife of Pepyn of France, sends a message to her husband saying that because he is believed to be dead, Arthur has invaded the country] So it is true that Arthur kynge of Brytayne trustyng in your death, and that the tydynges was true is entred into your lande wyth a greate puyssaunce of men of armes, and wyll be kynge of Fraunce by force, and wedde the quene Berthe agaynst her wyll

144 Arthur of England LXXI c 1502 Valentine and Orson page 297 [Pepyn marches against Arthur with a huge army] Nowe had the enemies tydinges of his coramyng, where of they were muche abasshed, and doubted hym muche and not without a cause. So all the alyes of kyng Arthur toke a counsaill together that they should take the forsayde Arthure and delyuer hym vnto kynge Pepyn for to make their peace the better, and couer their defautes, and so they dyd. For vpon a nyght they tooke him in his hoost in bedde and ledde him vnto kyng Pepyn, the whiche made his head to be smyten of within Chatelet of Parys

LXXII 1506-7 Dunbar The Antichrist 31-3 [The projected flight of John Damián from the heights of Stirling Castle is mocked] Under Saturnus fyrie regioun Symone Magus sail meit him, and Mahoun; And Merlyne at the mone sail him be bydand

LXXIII Before 1508 Dunbar Timor mortis conturbat me 65-6 [The poet lists various people whom death has carried off] Clerk of Tranent eik he has tañe, That maid the Anteris of Gawane LXXIV Early loth century Dunbar The Ballad of Lord Barnard Stewart 59 [Stewart is likened to famous warriors of the past] O vailyeant Arthur in knyghtli vassalage LXXV Early 16th century Dunbar The Fly ting of Dunbar and Kennedie 334-6 [Kennedie tells Dunbar to confess his sins and repent] Do thou not thus, bogane, thou salbe brynt Wyth pick, fire, ter, gun puldre or lynt On Athuris Sete or on ane hyar hyll LXXVI 1509 Hawes The Pastime of Pleasure 5565-71 [Fame says she will spread the fame of Grande Amour abroad just like that of the Nine Worthies, who are then described] Also yet Arthur the good kynge of Brytayne With all his knyghtes of the rounde table

145 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature I now dame fame shall make to remayne Theyr worthy actes hygh and honorable Perpetually for to be commendable In ryall bokes and lestes hystoryall Theyr fame is knowen ryght hye tryumphall LXXVII 1513-14 Skelton Against Garnesche pages 150, 152 Sith ye have me challenged, Master Garnesche, Rudely reviling me in the king's noble hall, Such another challenger could no man wish, But if it were Sir Termagant that tourneyed without nail; For sir Frollo de Franko was never half so tall. Though ye be lusty as Sir Libius lances to break, Yet your countenance uncomely, your face is not fair Sir Guy, Sir Gawain, Sir Cayus, for and Sir Olivere, Pyramus, nor Priamus, nor Sir Pyrrus the proud, In Arthur's ancient actes nowhere is proved your peer LXXVIII 1515-16 Skelton Magnificence page 212 [Magnificence defies Fortune and names all the heroes of the past to whom he is superior] Arthur of Albion, for all his brimme beard LXXIX 1522 Skelton Why Come Ye Not to Court? page 335 For now, Sir Tristram You must wear buckram LXXX 1522 Feylde A Contrauersye bytwene a Louer and a laye [Famous lovers from the past did not feel as much woe as the poet feels] Syr Trystram the good For his lemman Isoude ( ) sorowe neuer bode Than I do endure Lamwell and Lamaroke Gawayne and Launcelotte Garathe and Craddocke With the table rounde

146 Arthur of England LXXXI 1537-8 Thersytes 126-37 [Thersites boasts of his prowess] Where art thou king Arthur, and the Knightes of the Rounde Table? Come, brynge forth your horses out of the stable. Lo! with me to mete they be not able! By the masse, they had rather were a bable! Where arte thou Gawyn the curtesse and Cay the crabed? Here be a couple of knightes cowardishe and scabbed! Appere in thy likenesse Syr Libeus Disconius, Yf thou wilt have my clubbe lyghte on thy hedibus. Lo! ye maye see he beareth not the face With me to trye a blowe in thys place. Howe syrray, approche Syr Launcelot de Lake! What renne ye awaie and for feare quake?

LXXXII 1540 Lindsay Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis 4590-1 The Prophesie withouttin weir, Of Merling beis compleit this 3eir LXXXIII 1545-53 Udall Ralph Roister Doister i.ii [Matthewe Merygreeke flatters Ralph, likens him to famous heroes, and calls him the 'tenth Worthie9] Who is this (sayth one) Sir Launcelot du Lake?

LXXXIv Mid 16th century Cavendish Epytaphe 4, 12 [A poem praising Henry vin] Tenthe worthy worthy An Armez of Arthore

LXXXV c 1550 Lindsay The Dreme of Schir Dauid Lyndesay 33-4 [The king likes 'antique storeis and dedis marciall,' and so before telling his story he names many famous heroes he could have written about] I haue, at lenth, the stories done discryue Off Hectour, Arthour, and gentyll lulyus LXXXVI c 1550 Lindsay Squyer Meldrum I wait Sir Lancelote du lake Quhen he did lufe King Arthuris wyfe

147 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Faucht neuer better with sword nor knyfe For his Ladie in no battell, Nor had not half so just querrell. The veritie quha list declair, His Lufe was ane Adulterair, And durst not cum into hir sicht Bot lyke ane Houlet on the nicht (48-56) I think it is no happie lyfe, Ane Man to jaip his Maisteris wyfe, As did Lancelote (61-3) And said, Madame, I 3ow assure That worthie Lancelot du laik Did neuer mair for his Ladies saik Nor I sail do, or ellis de (1078-81) LXXXVII c 1550 Lindsay Squyer Meldrum [The Squire fights bravely and is likened to other heroes] Gawin aganis Golibras (1315) And I dar say he was als abill As onie Knicht of the round Tabill (1319-20) LXXXVIII 1575 Rolland The Court of Venus n 264-72 [The Nine Worthies are described] [Art]hur the aucht, he was ane Christin King, [N]obill, and fre, that in his dayis did ring [Hi]s Intent was set on vassalage The round Table he had at his leiding. His cruell Knichts thairof sa entreting With gold and geir to eik thair clene courage: To him againe thay making sic homage. Of Infidelis mony he did downe thring Be battell mort, and put thame to thirlage LXXXIX 1579 Spenser The Shepherd's Calendar April Eclogue 118-21 [Hobbinal says everyone goes to adore Elizabeth] And whither rennes this beuie of Ladies bright, raunged in a rowe?

148 Arthur of England They bene all Ladyes of the lake behight, that vnto her goe xc 1584 Lloyd A Brief e Discourse ... of the Nine Worthies [All Nine Worthies illustrate famous men punished by God for their sins. Arthur's sin is lust] The liking of vnlawfull lust, whereto this worthie was inclind, Depriued him by iudgment iust, from life and kingdome (as I find) And threw him downe most sodainlie, amid his fame and victorie [When the story of Arthur is told, the details do not fit the moral, especially when he says] In lesus Christ I do beleeue, I am a Christian borne: The father, sonne, and holie ghost, one God, I do adorne. [Lloyd describes the appearance and the arms of each Worthy] Arthur was of body square, of visage grim, and full of haire: Strong and bold, and liberall, of nature gentle ouer all, And stout vnto his enemy, but giuen to adultery: In martiall acts he did delight, and loued euery noble Knight: He thirteene crownes did beare also, or in asure against his foe xci 1591 Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost iv.i.123 BOYET: So I may answer thee with one as old, that was a woman when Queen Guiñover of Britain was a little wench, as touching the hit it xcn 1591 Harington Translation of Orlando Furioso iv 40 [Renaldo comes to the woods of Callidony in Scotland] Here have those famous Knights great honour won, The famous Tristram, Lancellot and sir Arther xcin 1595 Sidney An Apology for Poetry 35 I dare vndertake; Orlando furioso or honest king Aurthur will neuer displease a soldier xciv 1596 Nashe Have With You to Saffron Walden in 102 CARNEAD: His life and doctrine may both be to vs an ensaumple, for since the raigne of Queen Gueniuer was there neuer scene worse

149 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature xcv 1596 Spenser A View of the Present State of Ireland 61 Fynallie it appeareth by good recorde yett extant, that kinge Arthure and before his Gurgunte, had all that Hand in his alleigeance and subiection xcvi 1597 Shakespeare / Henry iv, 111.1.148 HOTSPUR I cannot choose: sometime he anger me With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant, Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies xcvn 1597-8 Shakespeare 2 Henry iv FALSTAFF [Singing]: 'When Arthur first in court' - Empty the Jordan. [Exit First Drawer] - [Singing] 'And was a worthy king' (n.iv.37-9) SHALLOW: I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's show (ni.ii.28o) xcvni 1598-9 Shakespeare Henry v, ii.iii.9-io [The Hostess speaks of Falstaff's death] Nay, sure, he's not in hell: he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom xcix 1599 Dekker The Shoemaker's Holiday 1.1.164-7 [Simon Eyre tells Jane what a brave soldier her husband will be] Hector of Troy was an hackney to him, Hercules and Termagant scoundrelles, Prince Arthurs Round table, by the Lord of Ludgate, nere fed such a tall, such a dapper swordman c 1599 Jonson Every Man out of His Humour [Carlo mocks Puntarvollo's extravagant language of courtship] What? a tedious chapter of courtship, after sir LANCELOT, and queene GUEVENER? away (n.iii.67-8) God's so, look here, man: Sir Dagonet and his squire! (iv.iv.i05) ci 1600 Marston The First Part of Antonio and Mellida 1.1.115-16 ROSSALINE

... but stand on tiptoe, fair; Here comes Saint Tristram Tirlery Whiffe, i'faith

150 Arthur of England cu 1600 Jonson Cynthia's Revels v.iv.493-4 CRITES I dare venture a hit with you, or your fellow, Sir Dagonet, here cm c 1600 Davies Epigrames 'In Decium 25' 1-4 Audacious painters haue nine worthies made, But Poet Decius more audacious farre Making his mistris marche with men of warre, With title of tenth worthy doth her lade civ 1601 Dekker Satiromastix 111.1.162-4 TUCCA: Now, now, mother Bunch how dost thow? what dost frowne Queen Gwyniuer? dost wrinckle? what made these paire of Shittlecockes heere? cv 1602 Carew The Survey of Cornwall In descending to martaill men, Arthur claimeth the first mention, a Cornishman by birth, a King of Britaine by succession, & the second of the three Christian worthies by desert: whom (if you so please) that Captayne of Armes and Venery, Sir Tristram, shall accompany (page 61) This Arthur discomfited in fight, one Childerick, a king of the Saxons ... That Marke swayed the Cornish septer, you cannot make question, vnlesse you will, withall, shake the irrefragable authoritie of the round tables Romants (page 77) Vpon the river of Camel, neere to Camelford, was that last dismal battel strooken betweene the noble king Arthur, and his treacherous nephew Mordred, wherein the one took his death, and the other his deaths wound. For testimony whereof, the olde folke thereabouts will shew you a stone bearing Arthurs name, though now depraued to Airy (page 122) cvi 1603 Davies Microcosmos 35 [Davies talks of the cities of Wales that civil war has destroyed] Caerkon, where king Arthure liu'd of yore, Shall be rebuilt, and double gilt once more evil 1603 Dekker The Wonderful! Year e i 95 That same

, than

I5i Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature euer Merlin the Magitian had in his head, was a yeare of lubile to this

cvin 1603 Marston The Malcontent MALEVOLE: here a Paris supports that Helen, there's a Lady Guinever bears up that Sir Lancelot: dreams, dreams, visions, fantasies, chimeras, imaginations, tricks, conceits! - TO PREPASSO Sir Tristram Trimtram, come aloft, Jack-an-apes, with a whim-wham (1.1.95-9) MALEVOLE: When Arthur first in court began (n.ii.43-4)

cix 1604 Craig To His Calidonian Mistris 39 I layd me downe beside the ditch profound, Where Guineuer dispairing Dame was dround, And fell on sleep vpon that fatall brinke And when I spide those stones on Sarum plaine Which Merlin by his Magicke brought, some saine, By night from farr I-erne to this land cx 1605 Marston Eastward Ho ¥.¿.46-8 [Gertrude laments that knights today are not like those of the past] SINDEFY: Ay, madam, they were knights of the Round Table at Winchester, that sought adventures; but these of the Square Table at ordinaries, that sit at hazard

cxi 1605-6 Shakespeare King Lear KENT (to Oswald) Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain, lid drive ye cackling home to Camelot (ii.ii.89-90) FOOL This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time (iii.ii.95)

cxii 1606 Dekker Newesfrom Hell n 134-5 [The devil sends a message to all his followers on earth] To all those that vntile their Neighbours houses, that whilst stormes are beating them out, they themselues may enter in, bestor vpon such officers of mine, a thousand condemnations from their maister, tho they be sitting at King Arthurs round Table

152 Arthur of England cxiii 1606 Dekker Newesfrom Hell n 118 Kings & Clownes, Souldiers & Cowards, Churchmen & Sextons, Aldermen, and Coblers, are all one to Charon: for his Naulum, Lucke (the old Recorders foole) shall haue as much mat, as Sir Lancelot of the Lake

cxiv 1607-21 Beaumont and Fletcher Thierry and Theodoret n.i [Brunhalt seeks someone to take a public beating. Bawdber offers himself] when it is spread abroad That you have dealt with me, they'll give you out For one of the Nine Worthies

cxv 1609 Beaumont and Fletcher Knight of the Burning Pestle iv.i. 62-4 CITIZEN: Will it so Sir? you are well read in Histories: I pray you what was Sir Dagonetl was he not Prentice to a Grocer in Londonl

cxvi 1609 Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-light in 239 They both like two Knights Errant alighted at the Gate, knocked and were lette in: the one walkes the Hackneyes in an outward Court, as if hee had bene but Squire to Sir Dagonet, The Other (as boldly as Saint George when he dar'd the dragon at his verrie Den)

cxvn 1609 Tourneur A Funerall Poeme upon ... Sir Francis Veré 31, 600 And you the worthies of our present daies

War Proo'd Him a Worthy, Héroe of his dayes cxvin 16io Beaumont and Fletcher The Scornful Lady v.i ELDER LOVELESS

Away, 'tis done, she must not see you: now Lady Guiniver what news with you?

cxix 1611 Jonson Oberon: The Faery Prince 367-8 [James is descended from Arthur, so Oberon is descended from him, too] the proper hayre Design'd so long to ARTHVRS crownes, and chayre

153 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature cxx 1613 Dekker A Strange Horse-Race, Grosart in 339 Sir Dagonet had scarce set spurs to his Bucephalus, but with healths which he tooke out of euery commanders fist, drinking to his boone voyage, he fell sicke, & his horse, both of the Staggers, of which hee neuer recouered

cxxi 1613-16 Browne Britannia's Pastorals n.iv.2i9-20 [The shepherds of Cornwall praise the heroes of their land] Now Thetis stays to hear the shepherds tell Where Arthur met his death, and Mordred fell cxxii 1616 Jonson Epigramme cxxxm 21-4 I Sing the braue aduenture of two wights, And pitty 'tis, I cannot call 'hem knights: One was; and he, for brawne, and braine, right able To haue beene stiled of King ARTHVRS table cxxin 1619 Jonson Conversations with William Drummond, page 10 For a Heroik poeme, he said, there was no such ground as King Arthur's fiction; and that S.P. Sidney had ane intention to have transform'd all his Arcadia to the stories of King Arthure

cxxiv c 1620 Beaumont and Fletcher The Laws of Candy i.ii GONZALO

I have heard, And with no little wonder, such high deeds Of Chivalrie discours'd, that I confess, I do not think the Worthies while they liv'd All nine, deserv'd as much applause, or memorie, As this one

cxxv 1620 Middleton The World Tost at Tennis 178 [In the masque, the Nine Worthies dance with the Nine Muses. Pallas describes the Worthies] And this is Britain's glory, king'd thirteen times cxxxvi 1621 Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Many a worthy man comes out of a poor cottage. Hercules, Romulus, Alexander (by Olympia's confession), Themistocles, Jugurtha, King Arthur, William the Conqueror, Homer, Demosthenes, P. Lombard,

154 Arthur of England Peter Comestor, Bartholus, Pope Adrian the Fourth (page 504) King Arthur, whom we call one of the Nine Worthies for all his great valour, was unworthily served by Mordred one of the Round-Table Knights: and Guithera, or Helena Alba, his fair wife, as Leland interprets it, was an arrant honest woman (page 850) As Merlin when he sat by the lake side with Vortigern, and had seen the white and red dragon fight, before he began to interpret or to speak, fell a weeping (page 897)

cxxvn 1622 Beaumont and Fletcher The Prophetess iv.iii [Geta, a jester, is a coward who has to go to war] GETA but yet I will make danger, If I prove one of the Worthies, so; However, I'll have the fear of the gods before my eyes, And do no hurt I warrant you

cxxvui 1625 Davies Charles His Waine For Charles, which now in Arthures seate doth raigne, Is our Arturus and doth guide the waine

cxxix 1629? Jonson An Expostulacon with Iñigo Jones 98-100 what story shall Of all ye Worthyes hope t'outlast thy one, Soe ye Materialls be of Purbeck stone!

cxxx 1629 Massinger The Picture ii.ii.66-7 [Ricardo and Vbaldo mock Ferdinand by likening him to heroes of the past] VBALDO One that with iustice may Increase the number of the worthies cxxxi 1631 Jonson The New Inn 123-9 [Lord Beaufort's page describes his master's reading] I waited on his studies: which were right. He had no Arthurs, nor no Rosicleer's, No Knights o'the Sunne, nor Amadis de Gaule's,

155 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Primalions, and Pantagruel's, publique Nothings; Abortiues of the fabulous, darke cloyster, Sent out to poison courts, and infest manners: But great Achilles [and other classical names follow]

cxxxn 1632 Massinger The City Madam iv.¡1.38-41 SHAVEM Welcom, Sir, To your own Palace. GOLDWIRE

Kisse your Cleopatra, And shew yourself in your magnificent bounties A second Anthony. DINGEM All the Nine Worthies

cxxxin 1636 Massinger The Bashful Lover iv.¿.98-101 MARTINO

I ne'r knew General yet, Nor Prince that did deserve to be a Worthy, But he desir'd to have his sweat wash'd off By a juicie Bedfellow

cxxxiv 1640 Jonson The Vnder-Wood XLIII 'An Execration upon Vulcan' [The poet reproaches Vulcan for a fire that threatened his life and burnt his books. He asks why] Had I compil'd from Amadis de Gaule, Th'Esplandians, Arthurs, Palmerins, and all (29-30) [he would have begot a 'goodlier monster' and so could have understood Vulcan; this would also have been the case if he had used] The whole summe Of errant Knight-hood, with their Dames, and Dwarfes, Their charmed Boates, and their inchanted Wharfes; The Tris trams, Lane'lots, Turpins, and the Peers, All the madde Rolands, and sweet Oliveers', To Merlins Marvailes, and his Caballs lose (66-71)

cxxxv 1640 Jonson The Vnder- Wood XLIV 'A speach according to Horace' 79-82

156 Arthur of England [The speaker points out the empty life of the nobles] Wee, Descended in a rope of Titles, be From Guy, or Bevis, Arthur, or from whom The Herald will

When we examine the material in the catalogue, the first thing that strikes us about it is that, considering that it comes from a period of more than 350 years, 135 quotations constitute a surprisingly small number of citations. Further, when we turn to appendix A and see how many works from this period do not refer to Arthur at all, our sense that such references are sparse is greatly strengthened. In other words, Arthur and his knights did not immediately come to the minds of most writers at this time. Generally, when authors sought examples or illustrations for their works, they turned first to the Bible and after that to classical literature. Though I have no statistics to support my impression, I am quite sure that the references to Alexander the Great in medieval and Renaissance literature greatly outnumber those to King Arthur. The frequency of references to Arthur varies with the genres. In the medieval period, no play contains an allusion to Arthur or his knights, which is somewhat surprising when we remember that Robin Hood is frequently encountered. But as the drama at this time was essentially a popular entertainment, Arthur's absence may be just one more indicator that he was not well known to ordinary people in the Middle Ages or, if known, little heeded. Less surprising are the relatively few quotations in any kind of religious writing. Except when the king is cited to call attention to the vanity of the things of this world and the way in which death eventually overcomes all men, Arthur seems to have little value to religious authors as a source of illustrative material. Owst's citation of the use of Arthur in a medieval homily seems a rare occurrence.5 Where we might have expected to find a widespread use of Arthur's name or the names of his knights is in the medieval romances, but I have found only five citations (v, xv, xvi, xxxii, LXXXVI) in the non-Arthurian romances. The small number is perhaps offset by the appearance of Arthurian references in medieval lyrics or lyric-type poems where we might not have expected to find any. Examples are i, iv, xxn, xxxin, LII. There seems to be no period that favours references to Arthurian literature more than others. The list of illustrations has thirty-one citations from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, thirty-two from the fifteenth, thirtyseven from the sixteenth, and thirty-five from the first half of the seventeenth.

157 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature If anything, it is this last figure that is most remarkable, because it comes from the literature of slightly less than half a century, but when we think how many more literary works were produced in the seventeenth century compared with earlier centuries, the incidence of Arthurian citations in relation to the total volume of literature may well be about the same. We saw in chapter i that throughout the medieval period most historians professed to accept Arthur as a genuine British king. It is surprising, therefore, that in the period we have considered very few of the references made to Arthur in works that are not specifically about him treat him as a genuine historical figure. Curiously, the few that do treat him this way appear towards the end of the period when scepticism about Arthur's historicity was increasing. There are some fairly lengthy accounts of his life when he appears as a member of the Nine Worthies, but such accounts, if they emphasize some details over others, tend to choose the romance elements, such as Arthur throwing his sword back into the lake (vin) or his slaying of giants (L, LI). It is not until the late fifteenth century that we find a reference to Arthur that sees him solely as a historical king of Britain; though Caxton in his translation of Godeffroy of Boloyne (LX) is clearly influenced by both romance tradition and the tradition of the Worthies, nevertheless he does seem to suggest that Arthur was a real person. Another possible recognition of Arthur as a genuine historical figure can be found in William Wallace (LXII), but it is too brief a comment for certainty. Not until the very end of the sixteenth century do we find a reference to Arthur that unequivocally accepts his past rule of Britain as genuine. Spenser (xcv) believes that he at one time ruled in Ireland. In the early seventeenth century, Carew (cv) has no doubt that Arthur once lived, a certainty apparently shared by Davies (cvi), Craig (cix), and Browne (cxxi).6 In these references, however, we can already see a movement away from genuine history and the emergence in its place of a love for antiquity in which patriotism and nostalgia together sought to preserve an idealized version of England's past. More of the allusions to Arthur and his knights in medieval and Renaissance literature see these figures as characters from romance, not history. Where specific qualities are referred to, it is often the prowess of the knights of the Round Table or their courtesy that are cited. Gawain, the favourite knight in the English romances, appears most often. We find a reference to his prowess as early as c 1300 in The Thrush and the Nightingale (n) when he is cited by the thrush in its argument against the nightingale. Later examples are the English version of Quy a la Dame de Parays (vi), The Romance of Sir Dégrevant (xv), The Squire of Low Degree (LXVIII),

158 Arthur of England and Squyer Meldrum (LXXXVII). Considering the number of Gawain romances that there are, we might expect more references outside Arthurian literature to this knight's courtesy, but such is not the case. Both of our examples come from one author. A reference to 'Gawayn with his olde curteisye' appears in Chaucer's The Squire's Tale (xxv); the other reference, in the English translation of the Romance of the Rose (xvn), may have been taken directly from the French poem and so possibly reveals nothing about the beliefs of the translator. There are references to Lancelot's prowess in Sir Beues of Hamtoun (v) and Squyer Meldrum (LXXXVI 1078-81) and to Arthur's in the Chandos Herald's Life of the Black Prince (xxiv) and in Henry the Minstrel's Schir William Wallace (LXI). Comments on the prowess of the knights in general appear in Against Garnesche (LXXVII), Orlando Furioso (xcn), and Eastward Ho (ex). More commonly found are references to the splendour of the Round Table knights as in The Battle of Barnet (LVI), The Paston Letters (LIX), The Romance of Partenay (LXIV, LXV), and Philip Sparrow (LXIX). Lydgate's Reson and Sensuallyte (xxxvin) not only praises Arthur for his splendid worthiness but contrasts his times favourably with the contemporary world.7 Arthur's court was also renowned for the worthy and true love that was practised there, a situation perhaps best described by Malory in his celebrated praise of the 'olde love' that used to prevail in the days of King Arthur. That to see Arthur's court this way meant shutting one's eyes to some of the facts in the story does not invalidate the popular belief in the depth and quality of the love practised by the knights and ladies of times gone by. Two quotations, one from Lydgate's Reson and Sensuallyte (xxxix) and the other from Gower's Confessio Amantis (xxvin), praise the lovers of Camelot generally, but usually authors prefer to cite specific individuals by name as famous lovers. Craddock is an early example in the fourteenthcentury lyric Annot andJohon (iv), but more frequently cited are the famous pairs of lovers, Lancelot and Guenevere and Tristan and Iseult. We meet the first couple in The Parlement of the Thre Ages (x), Confessio Amantis (xxx), and in Squyer Meldrum (LXXXVI 48-56), but more frequently we find the second pair. Tristan and Iseult may be referred to more often because their love was more acceptable. Though it ended tragically, their love brought suffering only to themselves. No political catastrophe resulted from it and, because Mark was so contemptible, perhaps some readers could argue that it was free from the moral taint that was associated with the betrayal of Arthur by Lancelot and Guenevere. Consequently, of all the Arthurian lovers, Tristan and Iseult most unambiguously illustrated depth and passion in love and also the great suffering that it could cause.

159 Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature Beginning with The Parlement of the Thre Ages (x) in the fourteenth century, a sequence of favourable references to Tristan and Iseult runs through The Parlement of Fowles (xx), The House of Fame (xxi), To Rosemounde (xxn), The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women (xxin), Confessio Amantis (xxx), The Romance ofEmare (xxxn), The All-Virtuous She (xxxin), The Complaint of the Black Knight (XLVI), and The Lover's Mass (LII) right down to Thomas Feylde (LXXX) in the early sixteenth century. Lancelot's love for Guenevere never had the same idealistic purity attached to it that Tristan's for Iseult sometimes had. While none of the allusions collected here refer to the political troubles that the love of Lancelot for Guenevere brought about, at least one, Squyer Meldrum (LXXXVI 61-3), bluntly refers to its adulterous nature. By the end of the sixteenth century, however, the public was perhaps tiring of the famous lovers of old. Marston's The Malcontent (cvin, 1.1.95-9) mocks both sets of lovers while Jonson in Every Man out of His Humour (c, ii.iii.oy-S) has one character very insultingly call Lancelot's love for the queen 'a tedious chapter of courtship.' Guenevere, herself, is critically spoken of in some late examples (xci, xciv, civ). This late tone of condemnation towards Arthurian romance is found in other areas besides love. We might think of Chaucer's aside in The Nun's Priest's Tale (xxvn) as an early forerunner when it suggests that the story of Lancelot is not true and is valued only by women, but we should remember the context in which the comment is made and perhaps attribute it to Chauntecleer's attempt to overwhelm his wife with his arguments rather than assume we are hearing Chaucer's own opinion. By the first half of the sixteenth century the critical voice is clearly heard. The famed prowess of Arthur's knights is either mocked at openly or put into contexts that debase the old romance. Examples of the former are found in Marston and Dekker (ci, ex, cxvi) and of the latter in Shakespeare and Dekker (xcvii, n.iv.37-9, cxi, ii.ii.89-90, cxin). Jonson's seventeenth-century references, especially that from The New Inn (cxxxi), complete this rejection of Arthur's knights and their chivalry.8 While not actually critical of the Arthurian story, four late quotations show that it has fallen from favour to be remembered ultimately mainly by the lower classes. Falstaff and Malevole both sing the ballad 'When Arthur first in Court' (xcvii, ii.iv.37-9, cvin, 11.11.43-4), an¿ it maY be that the occasion of Falstaff's singing indicates the place that the Arthurian story is coming more and more to occupy, for his next words are a command to the Drawer to 'Empty the Jordan.' An interesting remark is the Hostess' comment in Henry v (xcvin) that after his death Falstaff went to 'Arthur's

16o Arthur of England bosom.' The remark is meant to amuse the learned, who laugh at Mistress Quickly's ignorance in confusing Abraham and Arthur, but if Shakespeare is being at all realistic in this scene from an Elizabethan tavern the comment shows the kind of foggy misapprehension that ordinary illiterate people may have had about Arthur at the turn of the century. On the whole, the references collected here are not complimentary to Merlin. Almost without exception he is remembered as a prophet, not as a magician. The single reference in Mandeville's Travels (xxxiv), which tells how he set up the stones at Stonehenge, is the one exception. There are no references to his bringing about Arthur's conception, which is his major function in the romances. Yet even in his role as a prophet, little that is specific seems to be known about him. Only Minot (vu) uses Merlin as more than just a name. For everyone else a name is all he is, and often one that is belittled, as in Dunbar's The Antichrist (LXXII) or the Fool's reference to him in King Lear (cxi, ni.ii.95). The writers who make allusion to Arthur in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance most often think of him in the context of the Nine Worthies. The origin of the Worthies is usually attributed to Jacques de Longuyon's Les Voeux du Paon, written at the beginning of the fourteenth century, where, according to Moran, they personify chivalric power and glory.9 Moran believes that for the English aristocracy of the late fourteenth century the Worthies represented 'a history of individual heroes and chivalric exploits, a history of world dominion and knightly glory.'10 But they could be seen in other ways, too, and in fact more often were. Generally, in those lists of Worthies where Arthur is described at greater length than just one or two lines, he is still celebrated more as a figure of history than anything else, as in vin, XLIV, LXXVI, and LXXXVIII. It is as a historical king of Britain that he is put to use in The Coventry Leet Book, to welcome Queen Margaret by assuring her that, great king though he is, he will nevertheless be her 'sure servande.' Alternatively, if he is not thought of as a chronicle figure, Arthur is remembered for his romancestyle deeds of killing giants, as in L and LI, or for living on after this earthly life in another land. Usually, however, Arthur is not described at length but is just one name in the standard list of Nine (or sometimes fewer) Worthies. Some quality of his may then be specifically cited (eg, his prowess as in LXXVIII and cxxvi 850, or his promised return as in LIII), but more often he is mentioned in order to praise some contemporary figure by the linkage of their names with his as in XLVIII and LXXIV, or he appears with the other Worthies in what is often little more than a decorative motif, as in xxxv and cxxv. A third possibility is that authors refer to the Worthies

loi Arthurian References in Non-Arthurian Literature as a single group without mentioning any individuals by name. In the early citations of this type the Worthies are used to praise contemporary figures (XLII, LXXXIV, cm) or to recall their martial deeds (cxvn, cxxiv), but in a later group the Worthies are ridiculed in much the same way as Dekker, Shakespeare, and Jonson laughed at Arthur's knights. Examples of this derision appear in Beaumont and Fletcher (cxiv, cxxvn) and Massinger (cxxx, cxxxn, cxxxm). Moran's account of the Worthies quoted above is deficient because it does not take into account their use as exemplum figures, which seems to be their most striking role. Although they are not always employed critically - Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy (cxxvi 504) cites Arthur to show that worthy men may sometimes spring from humble origins most of the uses of the Nine Worthies as exemplum figures are intended as warnings. Lloyd uses Arthur to show that God punishes adultery (xc), William Wallace warns us against cowardice (LXIII), while The Bruce and The Fall of Princes use Arthur to show the sin of treason (xix, XLIX). The most common exemplum value Arthur has, however, is the way he illustrates the familiar medieval theme that however famous and glorious a man may be death will eventually humble him. Examples of this theme begin with The Parlement of the Thre Ages (ix) in the fourteenth century and continue to Erthe upon Erthe (LXVII) at the beginning of the sixteenth.11 This citation of the thematic uses to which Arthurian references are put in medieval and Renaissance authors serves to show how casually most of these writers referred to him, and to call our attention to how often the Arthurian names make up only a small element of longer lists of names derived mostly from other sources. In such lists, the Arthurian names rarely stand out. When we analyse our thematic survey in chronological terms, some interesting points emerge. We notice, for example, that the majority of the uses of Arthur to illustrate the theme of the inevitability of death occur before 1400. We see also that another value the fourteenth century found in the Arthurian world was that it provided a standard for the ideals of love. All but five of the Arthurian references relating to love occur before 1400. A significant change in taste and fashion caused Elizabethan love poems to look much less frequently to the old lovers of medieval days for examples of fidelity, as though theirs was a splendour that was clearly understood to have passed away. Arthurian references also provided a way of praising contemporary people; more than half the total number of examples of this use of the reference comes from the sixteenth century. These allusions chiefly recognize the prowess of the Arthurian world, and nine citations praise Arthur and his

162 Arthur of England knights for this quality. This theme carries on into the seventeenth century, though there are fewer examples. More important in the seventeenth century is the reverse of this theme, a tendency to mock and belittle the older chivalry of Lancelot, Gawain, and Tristram. This rejection matches exactly the turning away from Arthurian themes as topics for serious literature, which we saw in a previous chapter. A final item to note about the seventeenth-century allusions is the emergence of Arthur again as a historic king. In a sense the wheel has come full circle from the twelfth century, but now there is an antiquarian and legendary air about Arthur that he did not have five hundred years earlier when he first dazzled the world with his splendid reign.




> o MAKE A SIMPLE SINGLE STATEMENT about the way Arthur and his knights were regarded in the medieval and Renaissance periods is manifestly impossible. Too many different views would have to be reconciled. First of all, we have to remember that the period we are looking at begins early in the twelfth century and ends about the middle of the seventeenth. In the passing of more than five centuries we would expect there to be many changes of outlook, and certainly they do exist. But important as they are, the differences attributable to chronology are the easiest to see and appreciate. A much more complicating factor is that in Arthur we never have only one figure to deal with. From the very beginning of the period Arthur appears in more than one form, and to each a different reaction is possible. Arthur is first of all a historical figure, king of Britain and conqueror of all Europe. But rivalling and often displacing this Arthur is another person altogether, the renowned head of a famous court, the exemplar and model of chivalry. The two bear the same name but they are not at all the same person. Then we must add yet another Arthur, who perhaps owes his derivation to the first two but who eventually becomes an independent figure in his own right. This third representation identifies Arthur as one of the Christian figures in the group known as the Nine Worthies. In this capacity, he usually carries some moral or ethical significance. Other less easily categorized views of the king appear from time to time to complicate the overall picture still further. That the person we are looking at appears in more than one form is, however, only half of the problem. An equally great obstacle is that there is just as much variety in the point of view from which we can look. In both medieval and Renaissance times society was made up of many different

164 Arthur of England groups and each may have seen Arthur in a different way. In the medieval period we must identify first of all the learned segment of the population. Almost entirely clerical, this group of people might have been interested in Arthur as a historical figure, but they probably had little use for him as a figure of romance. Secular works of that kind would hardly have been part of their reading. Then we can recognize a literate secular audience for whom entertainment was probably more important than learning. These were the readers for whom the medieval romances, whether in English or in French, were written. Then there is a third group, the ordinary peasants and artisans. They presumably knew next to nothing about works of literature and cared even less for history. In the Renaissance, the situation is much the same. There was a scholarly learned segment of the population that was in the forefront of contemporary thought and literature. Then there was a more conservative, literate upper and middle class who valued old-fashioned and insular things much more. Finally, there was again the lower class. Not by then entirely illiterate, these people were beginning to have some pretensions of their own to literary tastes, however simple or degraded. They, too, had a view of King Arthur and his court. For that learned element of society in the Middle Ages - almost certainly all clerics1 - whose reading of the chronicles was in Latin, Arthur was either a figure from early British history or he was a fabrication. The majority of medieval scholars accepted the figure of King Arthur essentially as he was created by Geoffrey of Monmouth. They saw him as a warrior-king who had first defeated the Saxons in his own land and who had then gone on to carve out an empire in western Europe, only to be pulled back from the very walls of Rome by treason at home. In this depiction of Arthur, the king dies a tragic death at the hands of his nephew, Mordred. This was the general belief about the historical figure of Arthur in medieval England. As we have seen though, there were sceptics from the very beginning, such as Henry of Huntingdon and Alfred of Beverley in the twelfth century and Ranulph Higden in the fourteenth. But the attacks of these critics on the Arthur created by Geoffrey of Monmouth rarely go so far as to reject him completely. They cut out what they see as extravagances - the size of his foreign empire, the magic and prophecies associated with Merlin, and in particular the idea that Arthur lived on in Avalon - but that is as far as their criticisms go. Audiences of the Middle Ages who preferred the vernacular languages to Latin would have been less uncertain about their view of Arthur as a figure in history. They learned from men such as Robert of Gloucester,

165 Conclusions John Harding, Robert Manning, and the author of the prose Brut that Arthur definitely lived and that nearly all the details recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth deserved to be repeated and even expanded upon. It may be significant that when Trevisa translated Higden's Latin chronicle into English he took him to task for casting doubt on Geoffrey in the matter of Arthur. 2 He advances his ingenious argument that just as we do not reject St John, even though he is the sole source for many "Binges and doyinges' that the other gospel writers do not tell, so we should not question Geoffrey's story of Arthur simply because it has no outside corroboration (v, 337). On the whole, then, as we saw in chapter I, most literate people in the Middle Ages believed in the historical figure of Arthur. Where there was scepticism, it was not directed at the central story but only at the peripheral excesses. The lack of external corroboration, especially in foreign historians, was the main stumbling block for those critical readers who had doubts. The story that Arthur would one day return to rule over his people again, however, was generally disbelieved in England. It was known, of course, but most historians, if they commented on it at all, attributed it only to credulous Welshmen. As a counter to it, chroniclers frequently reported the finding of Arthur's grave at Glastonbury. The audience for secular literature in medieval England, however, had to reconcile its acceptance of a historical King Arthur with the character of the same name whom they knew from English and French romances. This king was a figure from the world of chivalry, a man who ruled over a famous court where courtesy and all the ideals of the knightly code prevailed. Around him were many celebrated heroes, chivalric knights ready to adventure forth in search of honour and reputation or to champion those who needed their help. Neither by what he did nor by the manner in which he lived could this king of romance fiction possibly be the same man as the king about whom the chroniclers wrote. Nevertheless, the dichotomy did not seem to trouble medieval readers. All kinds of deeds and adventures could be attributed to the Round Table knights, and even to their monarch, for which there was no support in the histories of the day. In the romances Arthur could be anything an author wished, and chapter 4 showed us just how wide the diversity could be. The romance character had little impact, however, outside the fictional stories that used him. We saw in chapter 2 that in the literature of chivalry, where his appearance might have been expected, his role was minimal, while in real life, in the tournaments and pageantry of the time, for example, he never had a prominent part. The tournaments called 'round tables,' for which he might have been responsible, came to an end in 1344; afterwards

166 Arthur of England the court of Richard n at the end of the fourteenth century had no place for him. We should remember, too, as further evidence of his little importance that an Arthurian order of chivalry never came into being. At the bottom of the medieval social scale were the ordinary peasants and town dwellers, who were almost all illiterate. For these, Arthur probably meant little. Few place-names in medieval England bore his name or the names of people traditionally associated with him, which suggests a lack of interest in or knowledge of the king in early times. Similarly, his absence from local legends and the small number of places associated with his memory - unlike, for example, Robin Hood or Guy of Warwick - suggest that he was unimportant to the average English peasant. Only in the Celtic areas of Britain is there any evidence of knowledge of Arthur among ordinary men. The average Englishman from the lower classes in the Middle Ages may have heard that a King Arthur had lived and reigned at some point in the country's past, but any knowledge of that king's history must have been minimal. In the same way, one wonders if the romance figure was known very far down the social scale. As we saw, the grail quest of Perceval and the love stories of Lancelot and Guenevere or of Tristan and Iseult had little appeal for the reading public in medieval England. Consequently, one cannot see them as subjects that would be attractive to much less sophisticated village audiences. Even Gawain's courtesy, a theme that did appeal to English romance readers in the Middle Ages, would hardly have mattered to peasant listeners. Lastly, if Anderson is right,3 the medieval craftsmen who spread representations of figures from the romances around the country through their carvings of misericords probably did not understand exactly what it was they were carving. If those who did the carving did not themselves recognize the episodes as coming from Arthurian romances, we can almost certainly conclude that the people who looked at their work were equally ignorant. One last conception of Arthur was known in the Middle Ages, and that was his inclusion among the Nine Worthies. In its simplest form, at least, this knowledge about the king could have crossed all social barriers. Anyone in medieval times might have been aware of it, though many people no doubt would have been hard-pressed to name the other eight. To most people, Arthur's being among the Nine Worthies meant that he was a splendid king, for that is what the title said. Only in the eyes of more sophisticated readers was he an exemplum figure, who warned men against earthly splendour, who reminded them that all men must die and that all magnificence must end. Were these different medieval views of Arthur kept apart in people's

167 Conclusions minds? Arthur's presence among the Nine Worthies depends to a large extent upon the chronicle tradition that made him the ruler of vast territories and the champion of the Christian faith. However, instances that specifically link the two ideas, by giving a brief biography of the king at the same time as saying he is one of the Worthies, are late in the period. The earliest I have found are Rolland's The Court of Venus (1575) and Lloyd's A Briefe Discourse (I584).4 The chronicle-romances are essentially battle poems that use the life of Arthur for their basic plots. They follow the outline found in Geoffrey of Monmouth, but the details are much amplified and freely added to. The facts from the latter part of the chronicle story of Arthur provide the skeleton of the plot of the Alliterative Morte Arthure, though they have been seen with a poet's eye not a historian's, and other material, much of it pure romance,5 has been added to them. The king's death is also part of the plot in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, but this poem's conception of Arthur is not in any sense the figure found in the chronicles. We must answer our question, therefore, by saying that the people of the medieval period recognized three main portraits of Arthur and that for the most part they tended to keep them distinct and separate. The Renaissance period essentially sees a continuation and accentuation of the positions of the medieval period but it has some new aspects as well. The distinction between a learned but religious segment of society and a literate but less learned lay segment is less valid in the Renaissance period when noted scholars could be found outside religious ranks. Among the scholarly element of society, opposition to Arthur, as we have seen, is sharper than ever. The historical figure comes under more severe attack, so that by the seventeenth century there is no longer belief in his existence. But despite the formidable attack upon him, the tradition of Arthur's kingship died hard, and there were many late defences of him. Some are vituperative and narrow-minded, motivated by the blindest kind of patriotism. These are the histories by such authors as John Stow and David Powel. Other defences are more reasoned and attempt to make a case for Arthur, supported by physical evidence when it can be found. John Leland took this approach. Yet again, some defences are not controversial at all. They drop all that cannot be easily accepted and retain only the bare bones of Arthur's story. One such work is Holinshed's Chronicles. The belief that Arthur once ruled in Britain, however, was fast waning among the learned by the year 1600. At the close of the first chapter we took Milton's rejection of Arthur as a sign that the era of belief in his historicity, begun by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century, had finally come to an end. Those writers who seek to perpetuate the historical Arthur after 1600 are manifestly antiquarians

168 Arthur of England keeping myths and legends alive, not historians recording the facts of the past. The movement away from belief in Arthur's historicity in the latter years of our period, however, was slowed by the actions of the newly crowned Tudor king, Henry vu. As an act of policy, Henry went out of his way to foster the tradition known as the British Hope. His naming of his son Arthur in 1486 was especially important. We cannot say how strongly this claim of descent might have continued to be pressed if the prince had lived to be an adult, but in the event, Henry's successor, his son Henry vin, made little of his father's claim. It dropped more and more from sight in the course of the sixteenth century though vestiges of it remained as late as the reign of James i. We might also recall from chapter i how the story of Arthur was changed by Scottish historians in the sixteenth century. They did not attempt to disprove the genuineness of Arthur, but they did interpret the facts in a significantly different way. Motivated by nationalism, these historians disputed Arthur's right to the throne and in particular his claim to the overlordship of Scotland. Consequently, they saw opposition to him as justified; for them Mordred, in warring with Arthur, took on the role of hero and national champion north of the border. Except in the late romance Golagros and Gawain, this conception of an Arthur diminished for political advantage has no echo outside the Scottish chronicles. Turning from history to literature, we see again a split in the Renaissance period between different segments of society. Among the more scholarly, medieval romances were rejected as unsuitable reading material because their military values were thought to be anti-social, their ethical values were considered immoral, and their religious views were condemned as papist. In such a hostile climate one would expect little new serious literature about Arthur to appear. Indeed, as we have seen, in the Renaissance period only two attempts were made to write serious works using Arthurian subjectmatter - Hughes' The Misfortunes of Arthur and Spenser's The Fairie Queene. Both recognize that at the end of the sixteenth century Arthur can no longer be the same as he was in the Middle Ages. Both attempt, therefore, to create him anew, though neither is successful in launching a different tradition about the king. The figures of Arthur created by Hughes and Spenser have no literary successors. Most major writers of this period who refer to King Arthur and his knights hold them in poor respect. The quotations in chapter 7 from Shakespeare, Dekker, Marston, Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, to name but the better-known authors, all

169 Conclusions mock and scorn the Arthurian characters and use them in jests or comparisons that show them in a ridiculous manner. There was, however, a second literary audience in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one that was more conservative and more traditional perhaps than the humanists, and more insular in that its members did not look abroad for their literature but were content with what lay at hand. Such people still found some medieval works about Arthur appealing, as we saw from the manuscripts they owned and the printed romances they read. More important, this audience was eager to read a definitive account of Arthur and his knights in its own language. These were the readers who appreciated Malory's Morte d'Arthur and supported it through its many editions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Finally, what of the lower classes in the Renaissance period? Not as uniformly illiterate as they had been in the Middle Ages, they were beginning to look for a literature suited to their own tastes. For them the Arthurian ballads are written, short pieces that are often no more than cut-down versions of the medieval romances from which they clearly derive. Some retell episodes from Arthur's life; others deal with the adventures of his knights. The romances with their fantastic heroes and enthralling adventures were also directed essentially to lower-class audiences in this period. No new Arthurian romances were created for this audience, however, although two works - Tom o Lincoln and Chinon of England - do have Arthurian settings. Along with the ballads these romances show that Arthur and his knights were still acceptable literary subjects among the unsophisticated lower classes in the Renaissance period. As a figure of British history, Arthur was received enthusiastically in the early part of our period when Geoffrey's Historia first blazoned his name abroad. After that, however, belief in him declined slowly but steadily, until he had lost all credibility in the seventeenth century. As an exemplar of chivalry, Arthur was most important in the middle of the fourteenth century. Tudor pageantry never fully re-established the position Arthur had had as a model for chivalric standards at the court of Edward in. As a literary character, Arthur was pre-eminent in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in England, a pre-eminence that culminated in his appearance in Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Afterwards his importance dwindled significantly. In his capacity as a member of the Nine Worthies, he was still praised as late as 1620 by Middleton, but even in this area we have seen that the general tenor of opinion was critical of him by the end of the period.6 After the middle of the seventeenth century, interest in all aspects

i yo Arthur of England of Arthur noticeably declined until his tremendous resurgence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, enthusiasm for King Arthur and his knights as subjects for new works of popular fiction is as strong again as it ever was in the Middle Ages.


Texts without Arthurian References


Ancrene Wisse; Ancren Riwle; Athelston; Audelay Poems', Ayenbite of Inwit; La Belle Dame Sans Merci', Blanchardyn and Eglantine; Body and Soul; Le Bone Florence; The Book of Margery Kempe; The Book of Vices and Virtues; Charles d'Orléans English Poems; Cheuelere Assigne; Chief Pre-Shakespearian Dramas, ed Adams; The Court of Love; De Clerico et Pue lia; Digby Plays; Early English Carols ed Greene; Eneydos; English Miracle Plays ed Pollard; Erie of Toulous; Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays ed Cawley; Generydes; Havelok the Dane; Jack Upland:, King Alysaunder; King Edward and the Shepherd; Kingis Quair; Lay Folks'Mass Book; Legendys of Holy Women; Liflade of St Julien; Ludus Coventriae; Macro Plays; Mandeville's Travels; Middle English Sermons ed Ross; Moral Balade by Scogan; Non-Cycle Plays and Fragments; The Owl and the Nightingale; Paris and Vienne; Pearl; Piers Plowman; Pilgrimage of the Life of Man; The Plowman's Tale; Political Religious and Love Poems ed Furnivall; Political Songs of England ed Wright; Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century ed Brown; Reule of Crysten Religion; Robert of Cisyle; St Erkenwald; Seege of Troy e ; Seinte Marharete; Siege of Jerusalem; Sir Degare; Sir Eglamour; Sir Orfeo; Sow done of Babylon; Speculum Sacerdotale; Tale of Gamelyn; Torrent of Portyngale; Tournament at Tottenham; The Townley Plays', Vox and the Wolf; William of Palerne; Wohunge ofUre Lauerd; The Wright's Chaste Wife RENAISSANCE

Arcadia; Breton The Works ed A. Grosart; Chapman All Fools, The Blind

172 Appendix Beggar of Alexandria, An Humorous Day's Mirth, May-Day, The Poems of Henry Constable ed J. Grundy; Dekker Britannia's Honor, London's Tempe, Lust's Dominion, Old Fortunatus, The Sun's Darling', Deloney The Works ed F. Mann; Elizabethan Lyrics ed N. Ault; Fletcher The Works ed L. Berry; Ford The Broken Heart, The Lover's Melancholy, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore', Heywood The English Traveller, The Wise-Woman of Hogs don, A Woman Killed wit h Kindness; Kyd Cornelia, The Householder's Philosophy, Soliman and Perseda, The Spanish Tragedy, Marlowe: The Plays ed Tucker Brooke; Marston: Dowager-Countess of Derby, Entertainment of Alice, The Insatiate Countess, Pygmalion's Image, Satires, The Scourge of Villainy, The Palace of Pleasure ed H. Miles; Sidney The Poems', Tourneur The Atheist's Tragedy, The Character of Robert, Earl of Salisbury, A Grief on the Death of Prince Henry, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Transformed Metamorphosis', Webster Anything for a Quiet Life


Archeologica Cambrensis, Cardiff Bulletin of the John Ry lands Library Chaucer Review Early English Text Society EETS EETS ES Early English Text Society, Extra Series EETS OS Early English Text Society, Original Series English Studies ES English Studies in Canada ESC Harvard Lib Bull Harvard Library Bulletin Journal of English and Germanic Philology JEGP Med Aev Medium Aevum MLR Modern Language Review MP Modern Philology MS Medieval Studies Notes and Queries NQ ns new series PMLA Publications of the Modern Language Association of America Philological Quarterly PQ RES Review of English Studies RS Rolls Series SHS Scottish History Society Studies in Philology SP STC Short-Title Catalogue (Pollard and Redgrave) STS Scottish Text Society Yks Arch Journal Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Arch Cambr BJRL Chaucer Rev

This page intentionally left blank



1 Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages ed Roger Sherman Loomis xv 2 Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays 110-14 3 Lee Monroe Ellison The Early Romantic Drama at the English Court 32-3 CHAPTER I

1 Since the purely Welsh ideas such as those that appear in the Triads, the saints' lives, or the early legends do not affect the tradition of Arthur in England, they are not considered here. 2 Nennius, a cleric from south Wales, wrote his Historia Brittonum at the beginning of the ninth century. It claimed to be a history of the British Isles down to the end of the seventh century. Chapter 56 relates the exploits of Arthur when Octha ruled in Kent, and lists in particular the twelve battles that Arthur supposedly fought against the Saxons. An early Welsh poem about Arthur may be the source of Nennius' work but the trustworthiness of his history is highly suspect in any case. 3 The relevant Latin text appears in E.K. Chambers Arthur of Britain 249-50. 4 Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum 48-9 5 A.L. Morton The Matter of Britain: The Arthurian Cycle and the Development of Feudal Society' Zeitschrift fuer Anglistik und Americanistik 8 (1960) 7 takes a different position, believing that William created Arthur as 'the chief of a free-lance band of resistance fighters who formed a sort of flying column at the service of the British kings of the day.' 6 William also knew that Arthur was the subject of fallacious fables among the

iy6 Notes to pages 3-4 British, but without giving details, he scornfully rejects them as unworthy of memory. 7 The absolute originality of Geoffrey's material is not of concern here. He must derive Arthur's Saxon wars ultimately from Nennius, and he owes debts to many other people and traditions: see The Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth ed Acton Griscom, Stuart Piggott The Sources of Geoffrey of Monmouth' Antiquity 15 (1941) 269-86 and 305-19, J.S.P. Tatlock, The Legendary History of Britain, Brynley Roberts 'Geoffrey of Monmouth and Welsh Historical Tradition' Nottingham Mediaeval Studies 20 (1976) 29-40, Geoffrey Ashe 'A Certain Very Ancient Book: Traces of an Arthurian Source in Geoffrey Monmouth's History' Speculum 56 (1981) 301-23. 8 Tatlock (204-5) argues that Arthur's ending in the Historia is ambiguous because Geoffrey in fact 'tacitly recognizes' the British Hope, but does not commit himself firmly one way or the other so as not to offend either the Welsh or the Normans. 9 Geoffrey devotes less than a paragraph to Arthur's marriage: 'Denique cum tocius patrie statum in pristinam dignitatem reduxisset duxit uxorem nomine guenhuueram ex nobili genere romanorum editam que in thalamo cad or is ducis educta tocius insuie mulieres pulcritudine superabat' (Griscom 445). We see Guenevere briefly again at Arthur's coronation and at his departure from Britain. She and Arthur have no children. News of the queen's infidelity reaches the king as he is about to march on Rome, and she finally flees to a nunnery. There is no development of her character; she is merely part of the background to Arthur's life. There is music and feasting at Arthur's coronation, as well as 'diuersos ludos' at which Arthur presents the prizes (Griscom, 458). The only other moment when Arthur turns from purely military matters is when he describes to Hoel the marvels of the lakes of Scotland and Wales. 10 See Tatlock 278-83. Geoffrey misses two good opportunities to show Arthur as a man concerned with law. At the king's coronation he calls an assembly but only so that 'inter proceres suos firmissimam pacem renouaret' (Griscom 451), and at his death he says nothing to Constantine about the succession. By contrast, in La3amon's Brut, Arthur specifically reminds Constantine to uphold the laws. 11 When the Saxons break their word and return to Britain, Arthur hastens to oppose them, urging his men to attack them for 'auxiliante christo triumphabimus' (Griscom 437). When the battle starts, he plunges into the fray and 'nomen sánete marie proclamât' (Griscom 439). Arthur has a shield 'in quo imago sánete marie dei genitricis inpicta ipsum in memoriam ipsius sepissime

177 Notes to pages 4-8

12 13 14


16 17 18 19


21 22 23 24 25

reuocabat' (Griscom 438), but this detail appears in Nennius, and Geoffrey may have taken it from there mechanically. Tatlock (305) believes that no interest stands out more prominently in the Historia. Griscom 445 On the similarities between Arthur and Alexander see Tatlock 312-20. Both Tatlock 311 n23 and T.D. Kendrick, British Antiquity 10 reject G.H. GeroukTs argument in 'King Arthur and Polities' Speculum 2 (1927) 33-51 that Geoffrey sought to parallel Arthur and Charlemagne. For some small details of chivalry in the Historia see Tatlock 301-2, but even he concedes that we see 'the beginnings of chivalry, but no more.' Larry D. Benson The Tournament in the Romances of Chrétien de Troyes & L'Histoire de Guillaume Le Maréchal* in Chivalric Literature ed Larry D. Benson and John Leyerle (Toronto 1980) 3 points out that the coronation festivities in Geoffrey are not a tournament because there is no actual fighting. He suggests that they are an elaborate equestrian display, possibly inspired by the ludus Troiae in the Aeneid. We can see another parallel in the kind of athletic contest that appears in Havelok the Dane, also an early work. Kendrick 10 Elise F.W.M. Ven-Ten Bensel The Character of King Arthur in English Literature Amsterdam 1925 56 Kendrick 7 Christopher Brooke 'Geoffrey of Monmouth as a Historian' in Church and Government in the Middle Ages ed C.N.L. Brooke et al (Cambridge 1976) 7791 and Valerie I.J. Flint 'The Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey Monmouth: Parody and Its Purpose. A Suggestion' Speculum 54 (1979) 447-68 Tatlock believes (395) that Geoffrey's audience was the upper-class laity and definitely not churchmen, but we might question this since the first manuscript of the Historia that we hear about is in a monastery in Normandy. If it got that far so soon, is it not reasonable to assume that most religious houses in England had copies as quickly? Early notices of it come from Walter Espec, the founder of Rievaulx Abbey, and from Alfred of Beverley. Life of Merlin. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Vita Merlini 30 Geoffrey of Monmouth: The History of the Kings of Britain, trans Lewis Thorpe (London 1969) 9-10 Tatlock, 443-5 See Robert W. Hanning The Vision of History in Early Britain: From Gildas to Geoffrey of Monmouth for a full analysis of the Historia along these lines. Quoted by C.A. Ralegh Radford 'Glastonbury Abbey' in The Quest for

178 Notes to pages 8-9




29 30


Arthur's Britain ed Geoffrey Ashe 99-100. The tomb was destroyed at the time of the Reformation and the bones scattered. Today the position it once occupied is marked on the surface of the grass in the abbey ruins. Leslie Alcock Arthur's Britain: History and Archaeology, AD 367-634 79-80 argues for a genuine grave relocated in the tenth century, but we might question this. For example, if the monks wished to commemorate the grave at that time, why would they have done so by burying an inscribed cross sixteen feet underground? Would not a visible plaque on the surface or a stone slab suitably inscribed have made more sense? Even if the danger of Saxons finding Arthur's body was a valid reason for concealment in the sixth century, that danger had certainly passed by the tenth. One also wonders if Arthur was famous enough in the tenth century to permit the monks to alter the inscription on the cross in the way that Alcock claims they did. Radford (109) apparently does not think so. He suggests that William of Malmesbury's silence about Arthur in his history of Glastonbury showed that Arthur's story was just 'another meaningless tale' and that Arthur did not become prominent until Geoffrey's history 'had become a best-seller.' Soon after the Conquest, 'the monks of Durham and Evesham, for example, produced local histories to prove that their foundations had long and glorious traditions, unbroken by the Conquest; and many houses wrote Lives of their patron saints,' says Antonia Gransden, The Growth of the Glastonbury Traditions and Legends in the Twelfth Century' 339. The practice was common, Gransden tells us (340), and she cites Ailred of Rievaulx, who visited Hexham in 1155 and wrote an account of its saints. He was subsequently invited by the abbot of Westminster to write about the life and miracles of Edward the Confessor. She also cites Goscelin from the abbey of St Berlin's at St Omer in Flanders, who travelled from monastery to monastery writing lives of patron saints. Modern opinions about the contents of this history are based on the material quoted from it in the second edition of De Gestis Regum Anglorum. The smaller pyramid may have been a commemorative stone celebrating the first five Saxon abbots, the last British abbot, and Hedde, bishop of Winchester (674-705). The larger may have recalled a visit to Glastonbury by St Wilfred, Queen Eanflede, and Bishop Haetla of Dorchester on the occasion of introducing Roman rule into what had hitherto been a Celtic community (A. Watkin The Glastonbury "Pyramids" and St. Patrick's Companions' 35-6 and 40). If Watkin's explanations are correct, both crosses belong to the seventh century. Gerald's Latin text is in Chambers 269-71. A convenient translation appears in Richard Barber The Figure of Arthur 126-8.

179 Notes to pages 9-16 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42

43 44


46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Chambers 269 Edmond Faral La Légende Arîhurienne - Etudes et Documents n 452-3 Chambers 270 Quoted by W.A. Nitze The Exhumation of King Arthur at Glastonbury' Speculum 9 (1934) 36o. Flores Historiarum I 269 R.M. Wilson, The Lost Literature of Medieval England 115 Chambers 260 See respectively Pierre de Langtoft The Chronicle I 152, Ricardi de Cirencestria Speculum Historíale de Gestis Regum Angliae i 32, Robert of Gloucester The Metrical Chronicle 3635-6, Flores i 261. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that Arthur killed 470 men. None of the later chronicles matches Nennius' original number of 960. The Brut or The Chronicles of England i, 90 John Harding The Chronicle chapter 75 F.J. Levy Tudor Historical Thought argues that the 'chief criterion for historical truth was moral utility. If a ruler, or even an ordinary citizen, could learn how to behave from a story, then it was in some sense history.' Criticism of the truthfulness of a story thus becomes almost irrelevant and hence medieval scepticism was low. Flores I 267-8 Laura Keeler Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Late Latin Chroniclers 13001500 54 and Robert Huntington Fletcher The Arthurian Materials in the Chronicles 188 The same kind of dubious history is another episode from medieval romance, the conflict between Guy of Warwick and Colbrond, which is included in Knighton's Chronicon de Eventibus Angliae and Rudborne's Historia Major Wintoniensis (Ronald S. Crane The Vogue of Guy of Warwick from the Close of the Middle Ages to the Romantic Period' 127 and n4) Robert Manning The Story of England 10,033-9 The text of his letter is in Chambers 251 Fletcher 179 Chambers 100 Fletcher 41 A Latin Dictionary ed Charlton Lewis and Charles Short (Oxford 1879) sv stupeo J. Taylor Medieval Historical Writing in Yorkshire 10 and Fletcher 171 believe that this is because Alfred distrusted Geoffrey and used other authorities whenever he could. Jacob Hammer 'Notes on a Manuscript of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae9 PQ 12 (1933) 226 n5 disagrees. He

18o Notes to pages 16-19

53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63

64 65

thinks the authorities are quoted to support Geoffrey, not the other way around. The History of William ofNewburgh 398 Tatlock 'Geoffrey and King Arthur in Normannicus Draco' MP 31 (1933) 2 Tatlock MP 11-15 Tatlock MP 115-17 See Chambers 268-9 Itinerarium Kambriae et Descriptio Kambriae vol 6 of Giraldi Cambrensis Opera 36 Itin Kambriae 56 Topographia Hibernica et Expugnatio Hibernica vol 5 of Giraldi Cambrensis Opera 148 Itin Kambriae 209 Keeler 44 Keeler (35) links John Capgrave with Rudborne, saying that he, too, 'wrote coldly of both Brutus and Arthur.' This view, I believe, is incorrect. Capgrave wrote a chronicle that he finished just before he died in 1464. It gives a general history of the world from the Creation but narrows in scope to English history only after the accession of Henry in in 1216. All the early entries are very short, and from the period before Arthur's reign there are only five brief references to Britain (the coming of Brutus in 1116 BC, Claudius fighting the Britons in 42 AD, Pope Eleutheri sending missionaries to Britain in AD 161, the death of many Britons under the persecution of Diocletian in AD 284, and Constantine coming to Britain in AD 303). Under these circumstances, the entry dated AD 457 - 'In these dayes was Arthure Kyng of Bretayn, that with his manhod conqwered Flaunderes, Frauns, Norwey, and Denmark; and, aftir he was gretely wounded, he went into a ylde cleped Avallone, and there deyed. The olde Britones suppose that he is o lyve (John Capgrave The Chronicle of England 87) - is remarkable not so much for its brevity but for being there at all. If we take it along with Capgrave's later references to the finding of Arthur's body at Glastonbury, to Edward's writing to the Pope in 1297 claiming dominion over Scotland because Arthur had once ruled it, and to the founding of the Round Table by Arthur, we can safely assume that Capgrave accepted the contemporary commonplaces about Arthur. John Taylor The Universal Chronicle of Ranulf Higden (Oxford 1966) 46 Ranulph Higden Polychronicon ... with the English Translation of John Trevisa v 332 and 334. The translation is mine. Few medieval historians attempt to counter the charges against Arthur; they just retell the story. An exception is John Trevisa, a Cornishman from St Enoder parish, who completed his Eng-

i8i Notes to pages 20-1


67 68 69 70 71

72 73 74

lish translation of Higden's Polychronicon in 1387. Not a profound or scholarly man, Trevisa confesses quite openly that he makes changes in his author because sometimes Higden's Latin puzzles him. But when it comes to the subject of Arthur it is Trevisa's Cornish nationalism that drives him, and he defends Geoffrey against 'belittling Englishmen' who seek to vilify a Celtic hero (John E. Housman 'Higden, Trevisa, Caxton, and the Beginnings of Arthurian Criticism' RES 23 (1947) 214). He objects to Higden's carefully reasoned reservations about the truth of some Arthurian stories by asking naively why, if we believe St John, whose gospel is our sole source for many things about Christ's life, we should not equally believe Geoffrey in his unique account of Arthur. Further, he claims, if no other historian mentions Frollo or Lucius it is because 'ofte an officer, kyng, o^er emperour haj) many dyvers names, and is diverseliche i-nemped in meny dyvers londes' (Polychronicon v 339). The assumption that history was essentially exemplarist was not entirely abandoned in the Renaissance. 'Heavy moralizing is a characteristic common to nearly all the sixteenth-century historians,' says May McKisack Medieval History in the Tudor Age 123. Arthur Ferguson 'Circumstances and the Sense of History in Tudor England: The Coming of the Historical Revolution' 172 agrees. He states that what the ordinary person's view of history boiled down to was 'the notion that history taught lessons through examples of good and bad deeds.' We see the traditional Christian historiography still manifesting itself in Ralegh's celebrated preface to The History of the World (1614). But medieval as he is in his stated purpose and in his use of the annals framework of the earlier chronicles, Ralegh is also interested in human affairs for their own sake. In practice we learn more about the lessons of war and politics than about the affairs of providence. Leonard F. Dean Tudor Theories of History Writing 7 Levy 238 William Trimble 'Early Tudor Historiography, 1485-1548' Journal of the History of Ideas I I (1950) 40-1 Denys Hay, Poly dor e Vergil: Renaissance Historian and Man of Letters 5 The first edition of the Anglica Historia was published in 1534 and had material up to 1509 (Hay 17). Only in 1555, when he was safely out of the country and when Mary was on the throne, did Vergil feel he could publish the full text, which included the reign of Henry vin (Hay 83). Hay 31 Hay 30 He was even said to have burnt documents proving the independence of the English church from Rome (Levy 64).

182 Notes to pages 21-6 75 McKisack 100 76 Levy 63. Edwin Greenlaw Studies in Spenser's Historical Allegory 18 also claims that his role of historical sceptic has more form than substance. 77 Quoted from MS i 63, a view of Arthur that Hay claims was 'too forthright to print' (122). See Hay 199 for the text. 78 Poly dor e Vergil's English History, from an Early Translation 122 79 Robert Fabyan The New Chronicle of England and France 8o-1 80 See John Rastell The Pastime of People, or, The Chronicle of Divers Realms, 1529 4-5 where he tells the story of Dioclysyan, king of Siriens, who had thirty-two daughters. They all murdered their husbands and were set adrift on the sea as a punishment. When they came to land, they called it Albion after the eldest daughter. They subsequently mated with demons and produced a race of giants. Rastell rejects this story because (a) it is not recorded in any other country's history, (b) it is unlikely that anyone would have thirty-two daughters all married on the same day and it is completely unbelievable that they would all be equally cruel, (c) no ship could sail as far as Britain without touching land, (d) it is very improbable that the devil would engender children, and (e) it is even more unlikely that if he did such children would be giants. Dismissing the story as 'a faynyd fable,' he comments that because some English peole believe it 'other pepull do therfore laugh vs to skorne, and so me semyth they may ryght well.' 81 Rastell 106-7 82 Rastell 106. He cites as evidence for his doubt the fairly common criticisms that Bede does not mention him, that his European victories do not appear in French or Roman histories, and that despite his supposed repeated successes against the Saxons he never drove them from the land. 83 In A History of Greater Britain as well England as Scotland 85 John Major speaks of 'the wiser sort, who knew the groundlessness of this belief, [but] were yet unwilling to go contrary to it, lest the ignorant in their indignation should destroy them.' 84 Thomas Lanquet An Epitome of Cronicles 145 85 Holinshed Chronicles: England, Scotland and Ireland i 576 86 McKisack 117 87 Johannis de Fordun Chronica Genus Scotorum n 32 88 Keeler 79. Susan Kelly The Arthurian Material in the Scotichronicon of Walter Bower' Anglia 97 (1979) 435 also feels that John is critical of Arthur. For a contrary view see Flora Alexander 'Late Medieval Scottish Attitudes to the Figure of King Arthur: A Reassessement,' 20. 89 Hector Boece The Chronicles of Scotland 359-60 90 According to Ferguson (189) John Twyne in De Rebus Albionicis (published

183 Notes to pages 26-9 in 1590 but largely composed before 1550) was one of the first to suggest this. 91 Tatlock229 92 Susan M. Pearce The Cornish Elements in the Arthurian Tradition' Folklore 85(1974)156 93 Chambers 251 94 Chambers 275 95 The British Hope produced some interesting anecdotes that illuminate the byways of Arthurian scholarship. One is the story of Peter de Roches, bishop of Winchester, told under the year 1216 in the fourteenth-century Chronicon de Lanercost. Hunting in the forest, the bishop met King Arthur and, recognizing him, asked him if he were saved. 'Certainly,' replied Arthur, 'I am hoping in the great mercy of God.' Then the bishop asked for a sign so that he might convince the incredulous that he really had seen and spoken with Arthur. The king granted him the power of closing his right hand and having a butterfly flutter out of it when he opened it. Keeler (65-6) believes that this story aims to destroy the British Hope by showing that Arthur is dead though his soul lives on. The author of the Chronicon is less dogmatic, however, than Keeler claims. He says: 'Quid in hoc anima Arthuri mortalis adhuc docere voluerit, perpendat qui melius conjicere poterit' (23). However, as the chronicler has just critically described the bishpo as a 'vir vanus et mundanus, ut nimis inolevit nostris pontificibus,' the point of the story may rather be to show the incredulity, stupidity, and vanity of a bishop who can be flattered and deceived by a dead man's spirit. 96 Homer Nearing English Historical Poetry, 1599-1641 108 97 Kendrick 35. A similar coat was made for Elizabeth and was displayed as her official arms in the church of Preston in Suffolk. 98 Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays 116 99 Sydney Anglo The British History in Early Tudor Propaganda' 32 loo Anglo 24 i oí Quoted by Anglo 17 102 Anglo 21-2

103 William Warner Albions England, or Historicall Map of the Same Island 81 104 Kendrick 42 105 For a new flourishing of this theme occasioned by the ascension of James i of England, see Roberta Florence Brinkley Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century 1-25 106 Leland 53 107 H. Lloyd The Historie of Cambria, Now Called Wales' 238-9 108 John Stowe The Chronicles of England, from Brute vnto This Present Year e 1580 85

184 Notes to pages 30-3 109 Robinson did not invent this pedigree. According to Rachael Bromwich in Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads Cardiff 1961) 414, it goes back at least to the fifteenth century. 110 Leland 40-1, 54, 60 in Levy 131 112 Putnam Fennell Jones 'Milton and the Epic Subject from British History' PMLÁ 42 (1927) 905 113 Jones 909. See also J. Milton French 'Milton as a Historian' PMLA 50 (1935) 473-4 and Brinkley 126-32. CHAPTER 2

1 Johan Huizinga Men and Ideas 197 and Raymond Lincoln Kilgour The Decline of Chivalry as Shown in the French Literature of the Late Middle Ages xxi. Though in everyday life chivalric principles were often not followed, their existence did establish for the knightly class a higher standard of behaviour than anything that it had known before. 2 The very titles of three important books suggest this viewpoint: Huizinga's The Waning of the Middle Ages (London 1927), Kilgour's The Decline of Chivalry, and Ferguson's The Indian Summer of English Chivalry. 3 The dispute hinges to some extent on how the word 'chivalry' is defined and on what one presumes the nature of the relationship between chivalric theory and actual knightly practice in wartime should be. 4 Cited by Kilgour 68 ni 5 I cite from Caxton's English version, The Book of Fayttes of Armes and of Chyualrye 25. Criticism of chivalry was no new thing, however, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the twelfth century, Peter of Blois had said that knighthood in his day was nothing but disorderly living, while John of Salisbury had claimed that young men led dissolute lives and preferred the cithern, the lyre, the tambourine, and the note of the organ at the banquet to the sound of the clarion or trumpet in the camp. Further examples from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century are given by G.R. Owst Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England 2nd ed (Oxford 1961) 331-2. This longing for an earlier golden age seems to be a permanent feature of human nature. There is, though, another way of looking at these complaints. Because they appear so frequently, Maurice H. Keen 'Huizinga, Kilgour and the Decline of Chivalry' 6 suggests that they may not reflect real unease about contemporary faults but that they are simply a topos, a theme for elegant poetic exercise. 6 Arthur B. Ferguson The Indian Summer of English Chivalry 29 7 Kilgour 84-107

185 Notes to pages 33-9 8 9 10 11

12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Lydgate Troy Book Prologue 75-83 Caxton The Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry 122-3 The Boke of Noblesse ii He says, for example, that it is good for a king to be present in person at his battles 'lyke as the kynge alexander in his conquestes / & also many Kynges of fraudée / as the kyng clodoneus / charlemayne & ynowe of other' (18) and he says that a leader should address his men on the day of battle and that 'thees maneres kepte lulyus Cesar / Pompee / Scipyon and the other conquerours' (76). Both these lists and others like them could have been extended to include extra names if Caxton had wished. Nicholas Upton The Essential Portions ... De Studio Militari before 1446 18 John of Salisbury Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici n 45 Castiglione The Book of the Courtier 35 and 40 Jean Froissart The Chronicles ... in Lord Berners' Translation 53 John Barnie War in Medieval Society 59. The standard life of Henry of Grosmont is Kenneth Fowler The King's Lieutenant (New York 1969). Gutierre Diaz de Gamez The Unconquered Knight: A Chronicle of the Deeds of Don Pero Nino 8-9; Chandos Herald Life of the Black Prince 159 Illustrations are easy to find. Adam de Usk Chronicon tells us that in 1401 the English retaliated against an attack by Owen Glendower: 'Wherefore the English, invading those parts with a strong power, and utterly laying them waste and ravaging them with fire, famine, and sword, left them a desert, not even sparing children or churches, nor the monastery of Strata-florida . . . and they carried away into England more than a thousand children of both sexes to be their servants' (237). Even Froissart shows no concern when he records examples of brutality. Describing the first invasion of France in 1339, he tells how the English army laid the country to waste, how Origny was taken by assault and robbed, how an abbey of ladies was violated, and how the town was burnt. Much of this pillaging came from the search for booty and plunder, but such plundering was not entirely an abrogation of chivalric ideals in favour of personal greed. Some was determined by medieval strategic ideas that saw an army's principal goal as the conducting of a chevauchée or cavalry raid designed to inflict as much damage as possible on an enemy by destroying his resources. Such raids were ruthlessly efficient. Unprotected towns were pillaged and burnt and the surrounding countryside systematically ruined. True chivalry hardly entered into medieval warfare, but extravagant showy gestures that passed for chivalry and that called attention to their doers are plentiful. The best-known example is probably that of the old blind king of Bohemia who, at the battle of Crecy, asked his men to lead him forward into battle so that he might strike one blow with his sword. Froissart records (96) how 'they

186 Notes to pages 39-41


20 21

22 23 24

25 26 27 28

29 30 31 32


adventured themselves so forward that they were all slain, and the next day they were found in the place about the king, and all their horses tied each to other.' This deed was so admired and lamented that even the English king and his son dressed in black for the love of him. Sidney Painter French Chivalry: Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Medieval France 155 calls them 'the crucible in which the ideas of feudal chivalry took form.' See also Roger Caillois Man, Play, and Games 109 and his comments passim on agon. Noel Denholm-Young The Tournament in the Thirteenth Century' 244-5 Francis Henry Cripps-Day The History of the Tournament in England and France 41 ni lists forty-one royal prohibitions between 1272 and 1348. Not all of these are designed to ban tournaments; some are devices to raise money by extracting fines from participants. Denholm-Young 264 Ruth Huff Cline The Influence of Romances on Tournaments of the Middle Ages' 206 Only Sydney Anglo The Great Tournament Roll of Westminster 23 ni seems to have questioned the derivation of round table tournaments from Arthurian romance. He suggests that the Arthurian version may itself derive from a historic round table tournament where a religious significance lay behind the table's shape. Denholm-Young 254-5 Cripps-Day 15-16, Cline 204 n2, R.S. Loomis, 'Chivalric and Dramatic Imitations of Arthurian Romance' I 89-91 Cline 204 n6. The earliest in Europe seems to have been held in 1223 (Loomis 'Imitations' 79). 'non ut in hastiludio quod vulgariter torneamentum dicitur, sed potius in illo ludo militari qui mensa rotunda dicitur,' Matthew Paris Monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica Majora v 318 See R.S. Loomis 'Edward i, Arthurian Enthusiast' 118-21 for an account of this festivity and why there is so much confusion over its recording. Juliet Vale Edward m and Chivalry 68 Cline 207 They were a regular part of courtly life until the end of the sixteenth century. Even from a female monarch's reign we have records of more than forty tournaments, and there may have been others which have not survived (Ivan L. Schulze 'Notes on Elizabethan Chivalry and The Pairie Queene" SP 30 (1933) 149). Ruth Harvey Moriz Von Craûn and the Chivalric World 179

i8y Notes to pages 41-6 34 Sydney Anglo Spectacle, Pageantry, and Early Tudor Policy 2 35 See, among others, Lord Scales' combat with the Bastard of Burgundy in 1467, Henry vn's coronation tournament in 1485, and Prince Henry's wedding tournament in 1501. 36 Anglo Tournament Roll 50-1 37 The Justes of the Moneths of May and June' in Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England n 109 lines 1-8 38 Jhone Leslie The Historie of Scotland n 128 39 The Pasión Letters, 1422-1509 A.D. n 318 40 Sydney Anglo 'Financial and Heraldic Records of the English Tournament' Journal of the Society of Archivists 2 (1960-4) 189 n3i. The same love of exotic dressing-up is to be found later in the Tudor masques. John C. Meagher Method and Meaning in Jonson's Masques (Notre Dame 1966) 3 reports that in Elizabethan masques people were costumed as Turks, fishermen, clowns, moors, patriarchs, satyrs, Amazons, barbarians, hunters, and astronomers. 41 Gordon Kipling The Triumph of Honour: Burgundian Origins of the Elizabethan Renaissance 111-13 42 Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays 113 43 Glynne Wickham Early English Stages, 1300-1600 i 73 44 Anglo Spectacle 95-6 45 Kipling 97 46 Anglo Spectacle 195 47 Robert Withington English Pageantry: An Historical Outline (1918, rpt New York 1963) i 191-2 48 Lee Monroe Ellison The Early Romantic Drama at the English Court 31 49 Robert Laneham A Letter [1575] 10 50 Joycelyne G. Russell The Field of Cloth of Gold: Men and Manners in 1520 128 51 Russell 120 52 Anglo Spectacle 162 53 Russell 178 54 Sydney Anglo 'Le camp du drap d'or et les entrevues d'Henri vin et de Charles Quint' in Les Fêtes de la Renaissance ed Jean Jacquot (Paris, 1960) n 118 55 Russell 185-6 56 Kilgour 34 57 Juliet Vale 76-91 58 Malcolm Vale War and Chivalry 52 and 39 59 Christopher Middleton The Famous Historie of Chinon of England xxviii 60 T.D. Kendrick British Antiquity 35

188 Notes to pages 46-51 61 Kendrick 35-6 62 Roger Sherman and Laura Hibbard Loomis Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art 40 63 Noel Denholm-Young History and Heraldry 1254-1310 (Oxford 1965) 6 64 Gerald J. Brault Early Blazon: Heraldic Terminology in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries with Special Reference to Arthurian Literature (Oxford 1972) 43. This particular roll has a strong romance element in it, for it also includes the arms of Préster John, Bevis of Hampton, and Roland. 65 See Cedric Edward Pickford The Three Crowns of King Arthur' Yks Arch Journal 38 (1952-5) 374-5 for these and other examples. 66 Rodney Dennys The Heraldic Imagination (London 1975) 47 67 Brault 22 68 Illustrations of Arthurian scenes in romance manuscripts have been set aside because they merely reflect the subject matter of their stories. The romances are discussed in chapter 4. 69 W.R. Lethaby 'English Primitives - iv' Burlington Magazine 30 (1917) 134 70 Loomis Legends 30 71 Juliet Vale 45 72 Juliet Vale 45 73 Loomis Legends 40 74 Quoted by Kipling 59, from College of Arms, MS ist M 13, 62V. 75 Kipling 61 CHAPTER 3

1 For a full discussion see Edmond Faral La Légende Arthurienne i 225-33. Chambers Arthur of Britain 249 reproduces the Latin text. 2 Le Livre des Fais et Bonnes Meurs Du Sage Roy Charles v par Christine de Pisan (Paris 1936-40) i 95 and n 123 3 James Hamilton Wylie The Reign of Henry the Fifth (Cambridge 1919) n 409 4 Maurice Keen The Outlaws of Medieval Legend (London 1961) 182 5 Keen 178 and 180 6 Crane The Vogue of Guy of Warwick' 169 7 Crane 135 and n25 8 Robert W. Ackerman 'Armor and Weapons in the Middle English Romances' Research Studies of the State College of Washington 7 (1939) 113 9 Anthony R. Wagner The Swan Badge and the Swan Knight' Archaeologia 97 (1959) 129 10 Chambers Arthur of Britain 239-40 11 Barber The Figure of Arthur 115

189 Notes to pages 52-6 12 Sir Thomas Malory The Works ed Eugene Vinaver. Malory seems to follow an English tradition that is recorded rather obscurely in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, for, as Vinaver points out the French Mort Artu has Gawain buried at Camelot. In a third tradition Gawain is buried in Scotland, as the late fourteenth-century poem Arthur tells us: 'Waweynes body, as y reede, / And other lordes {)at weere deede, / Arthour sente in-to skotlonde, / And buryed ham j^ere, y vnderstonde' (587-90). 13 J.S. Stuart Glennie 'Arthurian Localities' liii-liv 14 Leland Assertio Inclytissimi Arturii Regis Britanniae 15 Not everyone was equally convinced of this seal's authenticity. See John Rastell The Pastime of People 4-5. 16 Beroul The Romance of Tristan trans Alan S. Fedrick 113-14 17 Beroul The Romance of Tristan ed A. Ewert n 219 18 E.M.R. Ditmas 'More Arthurian Relics' 94. The story is told by John of Glastonbury in the Chronica sive Historia de rebus Glastoniensibus in the late fourteenth century. 19 Roger Sherman Loomis 'Scotland and the Arthurian Legend' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 89 (1955-6) 14 20 Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis n 159. For an account of Richard's dealings with Tancred while he was in Sicily see Kate Norgate Richard the Lion Heart (London 1924) 124-38 and Philip Henderson Richard Coeur de Lion 94-104. 21 E.M.R. Ditmas The Cult of Arthurian Relics' 27. Bradford B. Broughton discusses the question in a rather inconclusive way in The Legends of King Richard i Coeur de Lion (The Hague 1966) 97-9. 22 Roger of Hovedon Chronica Magistri (RS 51 1868-71) in 97, Fletcher 192, and Sir Thomas Gray Scalacronica 63 23 Nellie Slayton Aurnur 'Sir Thomas Malory - Historian?' PMLA 48 (1933) 370 and n33. The idea comes ultimately from Monstrelet. 24 Roger Sherman Loomis 'Vestiges of Tristram in London' The Burlington Magazine 41 (1922) 59 25 William Worcester Itineraries 299 26 Ditmas'Cult'28 27 R.E. Latham Revised Medieval Latin Word-List (London 1965), svjoc/us, provides no sure guide to the meaning of this phrase. 28 Philip Howard, in 'Likely Date of 1336 for "Round Table" ' The Times 21 December 1976, i, dates it to the late 13305. In 'The Cult of Arthurian Relics' 29 Ditmas thinks it may go back to Henry in, who did much to refurbish Windsor Castle, or to Edward i, which would make the table even older.

190 Notes to pages 56-9 29 See P.J.C. Field The Winchester Round Table' NQ ns 25 (1978) 204 and Howard 2. 30 M.D. Anderson, The Medieval Carver xxiii 31 M.D. Anderson, History and Imagery in British Churches 168 and 169, Wagner The Swan Badge and the Swan Knight' plate xxxviii (c), Anderson Medieval Carver 104, respectively 32 Anderson Medieval Carver 102 33 Anderson History 168 34 G.L. Remnant A Catalogue of Misericords in Great Britain with an Essay on Their Iconography by M.D. Anderson (Oxford 1969) 26, 86, 88, 131, 132, and 140 35 Velma Bourgeois Richmond The Popularity of Middle English Romance (Bowling Green, Ohio 1975) 125 and Anderson in Remnant xxxiii 36 Anderson in Remnant xxxiii 37 Loomis Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art 68 38 W.J. Hemp 'Arthur's Stone, Dorstone, Herefordshire' Arch Cambr 90 (1935) 288, H.N. Savory 'List of Hill-Forts and Other Earthworks in Wales: V. Carmarthenshire' Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 16 (1954) 58, H. O'Neill Hencken The Archaeology of Cornwall and Stilly (London 1932) 103, W. Howship Dickinson King Arthur in Cornwall (London 1955) 414 n2, P.H. Reaney The Origin of English Place-Names (London 1964) 67-8, Bedwyr Lewis Jones Arthur Y Cymry/ The Welsh Arthur (Cardiff 1975) 83, StuartGlennie iii-iv 39 Charles Thomas 'Folklore from a Northern Henge Monument' Folklore 64 (1953)428 40 Fynes Moryson An Itinerary i 273 41 Henry Jenner 'Some Possible Arthurian Place-Names in West Penrith' Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall 19 (1925) 73 42 Joseph Hambly Rowe 'King Arthur's Territory' Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall 23 (1929) 61 43 Stow 85 44 Stuart Glennie civ 45 Iain G. Brown 'Gothicism, Ignorance and a Bad Taste: The Destruction of Arthur's O'on' Antiquity 48 (1974) 284 46 Loomis Legends 15 47 Gerald of Wales Itin Kambriae vi 36 48 C.A. Ralegh Radford and Michael J. S wanton Arthurian Sites in the West (Exeter 1978) 32 49 Sigmund Eisner The Tristan Legend: A Study in Sources (Evanston 1969) 5-8 50 Fynes Moryson in 142

191 Notes to pages 60-4 51 William of Worcester Itineraries 273 and 201 52 The Mabinogion 107 53 John Ayliffe The Antient and Present State of the University of Oxford (London 1714) i lo-ii 54 Roger Sherman Loomis 'Arthurian Tradition and Folklore' Folklore 69 (1958) 16, and James Douglas Bruce The Evolution of Arthurian Romance from the Beginnings down to the Year 1300 I 34 n74 55 Cited by J.L. Palmer The Cornish Chough through the Ages (Penzance 1953) 4 56 Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia n 12 57 See Thomas Jones 'A Sixteenth-Century Version of the Arthurian Cave Legend' in Studies in Language and Literature in Honor of Margaret Schlauch ed M. Brahmer et al (Warsaw 1966) 176, R.S. Loomis The Legend of Arthur's Survival' in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages 69-70, and Chambers Arthur of Britain 222-5. 58 Jones 'Cave' 178 and 182 59 Leslie Nicholson The Missing Drummer-Boy of Richmond' Church Times London 7 Sept 1951, 610 60 E.K. Chambers The Mediaeval Stage 191-2 61 Chambers Stage i 176-7 and R.B. Dobson and J. Taylor Rymes of Robyn Hood: An Introduction to the English Outlaw (London 1976) 39 62 Chambers Stage i 94 63 R.J.E. Tiddy The Mummer's Play (1923, rpt Chicheley, Bucks 1972) 82 64 Chambers Stage i 174-81 and J.C. Holt, Robin Hood (London 1982) 159-62. For the related development of Robin Hood as a subject for drama in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries see Dobson and Taylor 43-4 and 203-23. 65 Dobson and Taylor 34. Holt holds a less glamorous picture of Robin Hood's appeal. He recognizes with Dobson and Taylor that the hero's appeal is essentially to a lower-class audience (128) but he makes much more of his criminal role and his reflection of contemporary social unrest (152). He sees him as an idealized criminal hero (155). 66 Dobson and Taylor 38 67 Chambers Stage i 212 CHAPTER 4 i Two romances are written in the Scottish dialect; four are northern; four are from the north-west midlands; three are from other midland areas; the remainder are either southern or cannot be identified with certainty. While in Golagros and Gawain the perspective of King Arthur might reflect Scottish nationalism, there is no sense elsewhere of a northern, a midland, or a southern

192 Notes to pages 66-8




5 6


8 9

view of the king. With respect to date of composition, La3amon's Brut is earliest, written c 1200, while The Turk and Gawain and The Grene Knight, written c 1500, are latest. The remainder are scattered throughout the period, with the fourteenth-century romances slightly outnumbering the fifteenth. Only two works other than the Brut come from the thirteenth century. There seems to be no tendency in the romances to view Arthur differently at different times within the Middle English period. W.J. Keith 'La3amon's Brut: The Literary Differences between the Two Texts' Med Aev 29 (1960) 172. In 'Scribal Editing in Lawman's Brut' JEGP 51 (1952) 46-7, Theodore A. Stroud argues that the reviser of the earlier version took this idea even further in the Otho text by reducing the middle section so as to hasten the reader's arrival at the 'heart of the poem,' which is Arthur's life. The Arthurian section of the Brut is 5066 lines long or a little more than thirty per cent of the whole. It runs from line 9232, when Uther sends his messengers to summon people to his court, an act that leads to his seeing and desiring Ygerne, to line 14,297, when Merlin's prophecy about Arthur's coming again is made. See lines 14,700, 14,710, 14,769. The land they live in becomes England (14,725, 14,741) and Wales is a separate country (15,729, 15,793). La3amon uses his terms more exactly than hitherto and often in pairs, thus English and Saxon (where Saxon is now a specific tribal name) in 14,821 and 14,954, English and British in 15,751, and Welsh and English in 15,790-2. Dorothy Everett Essays on Middle English Literature ed Patricia Kean (Oxford 1955) 32 Roger Sherman Loomis 'Layamon's Brut' in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages ed Roger Sherman Loomis (Oxford 1959) 107-8 and Helaine Newstead 'Malory and Romance' in Four Essays on Romance ed Herschel Baker (Cambridge 1971) 5 The same sense of giving up a long task is associated with the fifteenth-century versions of Of Arthur and Merlin. The Lincoln's Inn MS finishes with the death of Vortigern; the Percy Folio MS and Wynkyn de Worde's printed text both end with the death of Pendragon, Uther's brother. These are convenient stopping places because they are the ends of episodes, but they are not satisfactory conclusions for complete works. In each instance, however, a formal explicit makes it certain that the author had finished what he intended to write. The Douce MS and Stow's Transcript have no conclusion, but Macrae-Gibson (n 44) is confident that they, too, were shortened versions. It covers about the first 410 pages of the material in the Prose Merlin, or about three-fifths of the whole. Up to about page 360 of the Prose Merlin.

193 Notes to pages 68-72 10 See Macrae-Gibson's introduction (n 3-35) for a detailed study of the changes the English author made. 11 For example, 6610-8576. 12 Helaine Newstead 'Arthurian Legends' in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English ed J. Burke Severs (New Haven 1967) 48 13 The Christians are often referred to as our men (see 5071, 6094, 6100, etc). 14 I have made little use of the most recent full-length treatment of this poem, a series of essays edited by Karl Heinz Gôller entitled The Alliterative Morte Arthure: A Reassessment of the Poem. The authors share a common viewpoint and their writings 'form an integrated whole' (Preface). As I disagree with the authors' basic premises, there seems little point in attempting to refute the details of their arguments. The two fundamental assumptions appear in the opening essay where Gôller suggests first that the Alliterative Morte Arthure is an anti-romance (15) in the sense that all the conventions of courtly literature are consistently ridiculed (16) and second, that the poem depicts war realistically in fourteenth-century terms so that the reader will see thereby a criticism of contemporary warfare and the men, notably Edward in, who pursue it. Gôller calls the poet a pacifist (16-17). This leads ultimately to an unresolved paradox, that of a pacifist poet criticizing unjust wars, yet at the same time being fascinated by war and enthusiastically describing it (28). Gôller states this problem but cannot resolve it for us. 15 William Matthews The Tragedy of Arthur: A Study of the Alliterative 'Morte Arthure' (Berkeley 1960) 114 16 Morte Arthure ed John Finlayson 14 17 John Finlayson The Concept of the Hero in Morte Arthure,' Chaucer und Seine Zeit: Symposion fur Walter F. Schirmir (Tubingen 1968) 265 also sees the later wars as ones of aggression while Robert M. Lumiansky The Alliterative Morte Arthure, the Concept of Medieval Tragedy, and the Cardinal Virtue Fortitude' iio-n, points out in detail the changes that come over Arthur's conduct. 18 Lumiansky 105 and Roger Sherman Loomis, The Development of Arthurian Romance 151 19 As at 3712, 3741, 3782, 3856, etc. 20 He is 'wyesse' (3562, 3919), 'bolde' (3591, 3629), 'auenaunt' (3651), 'riche' (3939, 4155), 'semliche' (3947), 'gud' (3949), 'corownde' (3955, 4295), 'swete' (3969), 'royal!' (4072, 4292), 'comliche' (4187, 4275). Only 'feye' (4252), which merely anticipates Arthur's death, fails to praise the king. 21 Crucial to our assessment of the poem's ending is Gawain's attack on Mordred. Gawain has been recently criticized by Jorg O. Fichte's The Figure of Sir Gawain' in The Alliterative Morte Arthure: A Reassessment, for failing to con-


Note to

Paêe 72

céntrate his efforts on holding 'f>e grene hill' (3768), called by Fichte a strategically important position (i 1 1). Instead he attacks the main army and is killed. Though the holding of the 'grene hill' in itself is a small matter, the implications that stem from this episode are not. We should note, however, that since the terrain of the battlefield is not completely clear, Fichte 's assessment of the tactics may be wrong through his misunderstanding of what happened. Gawain sailed up 'a gole' (3725) or small inlet, and when his ship ran aground he jumped into waist-deep water and waded ashore. He stood on 'J)e sonde' (3728), then rushed onto 'the banke' (3731), which was probably the cliff at the top of the gully into which he had sailed. The vanguard of Mordred's men was drawn up on another 'banke' (3733) and to get at them Gawain's forces had to charge 'ouer JDC sonde' (3745). After Gawain defeated the vanguard, which fled back to the main host, he attacked the 'medilwarde' (3766). Only then does the poet comment: 'For hade Sir Gawayne hade grace to halde JDC grene hill,/ He had wirchipe, iwys, wonnen for euer' (3768-9). Does this mean, as Fichte suggests, that if only Gawain had kept as a secure base an already won hill he would have won glory for ever? Unless the 'banke' of line 3733 is synonymous with the hill, no hill has been so far mentioned. Certainly, we have had no account of Gawain's men fighting their way to the crest of a hill. Further, one might ask what is so magnificent about maintaining an initial foothold that such an action will ensure permanent glory? Glory never comes from prudence. An alternative suggestion is that the 'avawwarde' (3764) were positioned on the cliff top as a first line of defence but that the main body of the army was drawn up some distance back in a strategic position - most likely based on a défendable hill - and that it is the winning of this from the full army and holding it thereafter that would indeed have merited 'wirchipe' for ever. Fichte also criticizes Gawain because his actions in this episode show a 'progressive fall from reason.' To substantiate the nature of the change from ira to furor, he cites Richard of St Victor and Thomas Aquinas. But is he not applying the wrong standards? The Alliterative Morte Arthure is not a theological treatise and the authorities that make its rules and the audience that judges its action are not members of the church but of the military world. In point of fact, Gawain's actions could not show a fall from reason because they were never reasonable to begin with. To take a single ship with no more than 140 men in it against an army of sixty thousand has to be folly by any common-sense standards, and to try to hold a hill - even if we accept Fichte 's version of the battle against such odds is just as foolish as attacking the main army head-on. Forgetting reason, however, let us ask what Gawain's rash foray achieved. In numerical terms 'ten thosandez' (3929) of the enemy were killed at a cost of 'seuen score knyghtes' (3930), a ratio that must appeal to any general, medieval

195 Notes to pages 72-7

22 23 24 25

26 27


29 30

or modem. Second, we have the admission from King Frederick that Gawain's venture 'has grettly greffede vs, so me Gode helpe,/ Gyrde down oure gude men and greuede vs sore' (3870-1). Whereupon, fearing a subsequent attack from Arthur, Mordred retreated and so allowed the king to land unopposed, suffering no casualties at all. Such a thrust today would not bring down censure on Gawain's head; it would more likely merit the award of the Victoria Cross. Unfortunately, all too often Victoria Crosses are awarded posthumously. Gawain's comment that 'we hafe vnwittyly wastede oure selfen' (3802) can apply just as well to the whole episode as to the final attack and probably does. From the standpoint of prudence, of course, he is right, but we should notice that he does not wish the deed undone. Instead, he looks confidently forward to his ending the day in 'endelesse joye with angells vnwemyde' (3801), which is hardly what a grievous sinner might expect. Matthews I32f Juliet Vale 'Law and Diplomacy in the Alliterative Morte Arthure' Nottingham Mediaeval Studies 23 (1979) 39 Matthews himself points out (126) that 'conquerour' is used at least thirty times in the first half of the poem and 'cruel' and 'keen' almost as often. The punctuation in all the standard editions, a colon or a comma after 'Of all that Vter in erthe aughte in his tym' (29) and then no period until line 47, seems to suggest that Arthur was merely winning back lands that had once been Uther's, but there is no tradition anywhere for Uther's ruling over such an empire. Matthews 125 Anke Janssen 'The Dream of the Wheel of Fortune' in The Alliterative Morte Arthure: A Reassessment 141 makes much of Fortune's remark 'be Criste f>at me made' (3385) and thus turns the goddess into an ancilla del. The phrase, however, is probably nothing but an incongruous empty oath, filling the second half of a line as a tag. The poem is full of such expressions, all in the second halves of lines. In The Theme and Structure of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur' PMLA 87 (1972) 1079 Richard A. Wertime argues that both Arthur and Lancelot are slaves of the codes under which they live and so have no options open to them. But Arthur is not a puppet; he is a human being, even if a weak one. Dieter Mehl The Middle English Romances of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (London 1968) 183 Friedman and Harrington in their note to this line believe that the text is corrupt here and suggest emending it so that Colgrevance does not refuse to tell his story. But they note that in the French source he does refuse and the context of the Middle English poem surely implies the same attitude. Kay begs the

196 Notes to pages 77-83



33 34 35

36 37 38



queen to ask Colgrevance to continue his story and she does. This would not be necessary if he had not already refused to carry on with his tale. Larry D. Benson Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 98 and 96. See Arlyn Diamond 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: An Alliterative Romance' PQ 55 (1976) 15-16, S.S. Hussey 'Sir Gawain and Romance Writing' Studia Neophilologica 40 (1968) 162, and A.C. Spearing The GawainPoet: A Critical Study 181 for similar views. Muriel Bowden's note in A Commentary on the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (New York 1959) 116 that the word means 'one who violates his duty' is applicable here. Diamond 18 discusses this word at some length. Benson 216-18 To begin with, the style and mood of the two halves are different. Whereas the first is supernatural, eerie, filled with vivid description and almost lacking in action, the second is a standard knightly encounter, full of action and related in stereotyped language. Didacticism and morality fill the first half, action fills the second. The principal themes of the first half find no echo in the second. Of the different warnings and commands of the ghost, only one main one - the command to say masses - and possibly one minor one - the command to show mercy - are carried out. Others, most noticeably the one that the ghost emphasizes most - the command to pity the poor - produce no concrete action in the second half. There seems also to be a clear contradiction between the ghost's prophecy that Arthur and the Round Table are doomed (304-5) and Galeron's reward of being made 'a kni3te of JDC table ronde,/ To his lyues ende' (701-2). Alexander 'Late Medieval Scottish Attitudes to the Figure of King Arthur: A Reassessment' 31 Alexander 32 R.D.S. Jack 'Arthur's Pilgrimage: A Study of Golagros and Gawene' Studies in Scottish Literature 12 (1974) 9. See also W.R.J. Barron 'Arthurian Romances: Traces of an English Tradition' ES 61 (1980) 15. According to the citations in Robert W. Ackerman An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English, all these characters appear in Middle English only in the one romance. Other rare non-traditional characters are Baldwin in The Avowing of King Arthur, who appears a second time in Malory, and Sir Bredbeddle in The Grene Knight, who appears again in King Arthur and the King of Cornwall. B.J. Whiting 'Gawain: His Reputation, His Courtesy, and His Appearance in Chaucer's Squire's Tale' 195

197 Notes to pages 83-5 41 Fanni Bogdanow The Character of Gauvain in the Thirteenth-Century Prose Romances' Med Aev 27 (1958) 154. See also W.A. Nitze The Character of Gauvain in the Romances of Chrétien de Troves' MP 50 (1953) 219 42 Whiting 204, Bodganow 154-5 43 Benson 95 44 Wertime 1078 sees an interesting pattern when he describes Gawain as changing from the ostensible placator and implicit aggressor to the overt aggressor, while Lancelot, symmetrically opposed, changes from an active fighter and lover to an overt placator, who withdraws from both love and war. Perhaps Wertime pushes his case too far, however, when he maintains that Gawain is such a friend of Lancelot that he is the first to offer to seek him when he is wounded, which is not true (425 and 4321), and also that when Lancelot leaves the queen Gawain offers to search for him. His offer is actually a response to the king's indirect request, not the result of his own concerns or a sense of guilt (816-32). 45 Auvo Kurvinen Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle in Two Versions 25 misleads us with her comment that the story of this poem is essentially one of disenchantment by beheading. If there ever was a beheading scene in the poet's source, a hypothetical supposition at best, then it is greatly to his credit that he removed it, for such an ending would have provided an alternative centre of interest and so jeopardized Gawain's position as the hero. 46 He is described as a ferocious figure with four awesome beasts, but the emphasis on his size - such as when he rejects a cup holding four gallons of wine as too small - and upon the physical fear that he arouses is altogether wrong, because what is to be tested is courtesy not courage. At this point, we seem to have a romance writer working almost mechanically and including standard features, such as that a hero must be confronted by the most ferocious foe possible, without considering their appropriateness. 47 It was John A. Burrow A Reading of Gawain and the Green Knight 160,1 believe, who first called the poem a test story. In 'Gawain's Fault and the Moral Perspectives of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' Trivium 10 (1975) I, Anthony Blair Hunt extended the idea, when he said the 'action of the entire work constitutes a testing of the hero which is continuous.' 48 In a recent study, 'Sir Kay in Medieval English Romances: An Alternative Tradition' I have shown in detail how Kay is presented. 49 Dean 132 50 Dean 133 51 He has insignificant parts in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Lovelich's Merlin, the Prose Merlin, and Lovelich's Holy Grail. In addition, there are three brief

198 Notes to pages 85-7

52 53 54

55 56 57


59 60


references to him in Lybeaus Desconus and single-line references in Of Arthur and Merlin, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle, and Golagros and Gawain. Walter Scheps The Thematic Unity of Lancelot of the Laik' Studies in Scottish Literature 5 (1968) 168 See, as examples, lines 123-7, 692-5, 2640-1. Wertime 1076-7. But this critic's statement that Lancelot owes no binding allegiance to Arthur because he is a king's son in his own right and master of a contingent of knights is questionable. Lancelot says twice that Arthur made him a knight (2145, 2193) and this implies some bond between them, and even more conclusively Lancelot twice calls Arthur his lord (2144, 2594). Guenevere, speaking to the abbess (3638-41), frankly accepts this. See line 49 of MS Porkington 10. The parallel line in MS British Museum, Addit 27879 calls him Arthur's cousin. The Brut, Alliterative Morte Arthure, Of Arthur and Merlin, Stanzaic Morte Arthur, Lancelot of the Laik, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle, The Awntyrs of Arthur, Golagros and Gawain, Lybeaus Desconus, Sir Perceval of Galles. His name is scattered throughout a variety of works (see Acker man Index), but usually only in single-line references as part of the establishment of a chivalric atmosphere. Child is an epithet frequently applied to Perceval. See, for example, lines 266, 275,323,501,569The note in Middle English Metrical Romances n 587, that 'a year is a conventional period for a mortal to remain in fairyland without recalling his old life,' suggests that in remembering his mother, Perceval is waking from an enchantment. But the poem gives no textual support to the idea that Lady Lufamour is an enchantress, or her land fairyland. She is a quite conventional lady in distress who needs a champion to rescue her. Caroline D. Eckhardt's comment in 'Arthurian Comedy: The Simpleton-Hero in Sir Perceval of Galles* Chaucer Rev 8 (1974) 205 that Perceval is a comic rustic from beginning to end is very apt, but I cannot accept her later statement (206) that the English poet ignores, or softens, the crueler aspects of the hero's personality. Xavier Baron 'Mother and Son in Sir Perceval of Galles' Papers on Language and Literature University of Southern Illinois 8 (1972) 5 sees the poem in a more serious light. He takes Perceval's separation from his mother to be a test of his love for her. In the end he believes that 'Intensity bred of anxious affection has replaced his [Perceval's] impetuosity; sympathetic tenderness his adolescent callousness' (14). But this ignores the poem's heavy

199 Notes to pages 87-92

62 63



emphasis on burlesque and farce, which makes this romance so much a comedy. It is indicative of the poet's lack of interest in the love theme that it does not begin until more than 1100 lines (or one-third of the poem) have passed. Regarding the poet's lack of skill see Loomis The Development of Arthurian Romance 135, and regarding the verse form see Newstead A Manual and Acker man The English Rimed and Prose Romances' in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages ed Loomis 515. The verse form is complex, but does it present much more of a technical problem than the tail-rhyme stanza that so many Middle English romance writers favour? It is not in the complexity of the Sir Tristrem stanza but in its unsuitability for sustained narrative that the weakness lies. The short lines emphasize the jogging rhythm and thrust the rhymes at us so that we are more aware of them than of the subject matter. Though we have considered only English literature in this chapter we must not forget the pervasive influence of French literature in Britain at this time. See, for example, Richard Firth Green Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages chapter i, and Janet M. Smith The French Background of Middle Scots Literature (Edinburgh 1934). As far as Arthurian literature is specifically concerned, we can be sure that the aristocracy read French-language versions, not English, for the books they left as bequests are almost always in that language. See Kipling 32-40, Margaret Kekewich 'Edward iv, William Caxton, and Literary Patronage in Yorkist England' MLR 66 (1971) 481, Wilson 117-20, Edith Rickert 'King Richard n's Books' The Library Series iv 13 (1933) 146 The case is different in The Wedding of Sir Gawain, where the king is deliberately degraded in order to enhance Gawain, and in Golagros and Gawain and perhaps Lancelot of the Laik, where Scottish nationalism may influence the manner of the king's presentation. CHAPTER 5

i M.C. Bradbrook Sir Thomas Malory (London 1958) 25, Ferguson 44, and Michael Stroud 'Malory and the Chivalric Ethos: The Hero of Arthur and the Emperor Lucius' MS 36 (1974) 351 are examples of authors who, in their different ways, think that Malory was basically reacting to the troubled conditions of his own times. Morte d'Arthur, however, is not a political book in any obvious way. It contains no program for reform and has no manifesto. The Pentecost Oath is the only thing that resembles one and it is far too general in nature to qualify. The rules of the oath apply to knights as individuals, not to

200 Notes to pages 92-7




5 6 7


society as a whole. The thrust of Malory's reforming zeal, if this is indeed his concern at all, is traditionally medieval: society will get better only when the individuals that make it up improve. Morte d'Arthur is not a political allegory, either. In 'Sir Thomas Malory - Historian?' PMLA 48 (1933) 362-91, the parallels Nellie Slayton Aurner draws between the events in the book and those of fifteenth-century history are too distant to be convincing, while her total omission of Lancelot, because he does not fit her interpretation, seriously harms the credibility of her position. The basic weakness of Elizabeth Pochoda's attempt in Arthurian Propaganda: Le Morte Darthur as an Historical Ideal of Life (Chapel Hill 1971) to turn Morte d'Arthur into a doctrinal political statement is that she ignores the humanity of the work. For her the characters are never more than elements in an abstract political pattern. I do not agree with E.K. Chambers, who calls Malory 'a deliberate archaist' in Sir Thomas Malory 3 or with Jan Simko, who in Thomas Malory's Creed' Studies in Language and Literature in Honour of Margaret Schlauch ed M. Brahmer et al (Warsaw 1966) 443 states that Malory 'longed for a return of the old times of a chivalric idyll.' Nor do I agree with Charles Moorman, who in 'Malory's Tragic Knights' MS 27 (1965) 118 says, 'in an age of violent and upsetting transition like the fifteenth century ... the literary portrait of the age of chivalry must have seemed to aristocrats like Malory to embody the very stability in standards and values which England most needed.' C.S. Lewis 'The English Prose Morte' in Essays on Malory ed J.A.W. Bennett (Oxford 1963) 8 cites Arthur's massacre as an example of the 'untransmuted lumps of barbarism' that are to be found in Morte d'Arthur, and in this way seems to blame the sources for this passage and to suggest that carelessness or insensitivity on the author's part kept it there. Yet the incident so obviously suits Malory's purpose that he might well have invented it if it had not come to his hands ready-made from his French sources. Robert Acker man 'The Tale of Gareth and the Unity of Le Morte Darthur' Philological Essays: Studies in Old and Middle English Language and Literature in Honour of Herbert Dean Mer it t ed James L. Rosier (The Hague 1970) 202 The Morte Darthur Parts Seven and Eight by Sir Thomas Malory 27 James I. Wimsatt Allegory and Mirror: Tradition and Structure in Middle English Literature (New York 1970) 194 Lewis says (17) that no man need leave the order to which he has been called; P.E. Tucker 'Chivalry in the Morte in Essays on Malory 91 argues that Malory saw the standards of good chivalry derived from the religious discipline of the grail quest. To justify Bors' success, Malory sacrifices some consistency of characterization.

201 Notes to pages 97-9 Robert Lumiansky 'Malory's Steadfast Bors' Tulane Studies in English 8 (1958) 5 denies this, saying that the stability of the grail book is still in evidence in the final books, but the qualities that Bors shows on the quest and those that he has at the end are not the same. His final test in the grail quest is to turn the other cheek and refuse to fight his brother. How far this passive humility is from his subsequent actions once the grail quest is over! It is he who becomes the queen's champion in the matter of the poisoned apple, and after the adultery has been revealed it is Bors who tells Lancelot that he must defend Guenevere whether they had done 'ryght othir wronge' (1171). So much, we might cynically reflect, for the morals and standards of the grail, where chastity was the paramount virtue! Bors loyally stands by Lancelot and is ready even to kill Arthur. Finally, it is Bors, the patient, long-suffering knight of the grail quest, who urges Lancelot to fight at Benwick at the very time when Lancelot is demonstrating the meekness under provocation that Bors had himself shown so properly on the grail quest. In the final book Bors becomes once again an orthodox knight, and the paternal-sounding 'protective responsibility' that Lumiansky claims explains Bors' behaviour is really nothing more than family loyalty and the normal standards of the chivalric code expressing themselves once again. 9 R.T. Davies The Worshipful Way in Malory' in Patterns of Love and Courtesy ed John Lawlor (London 1966) 163 is wrong when he says that in Malory 'there is no mention whatsoever of the sacrament of marriage,' but just as erroneous is the claim by Vinaver that Malory's 'most cherished ideal is that of fidelity in marriage' (Malory 46). 10 It is perhaps because Malory never makes a definitive statement about love that the topic has been so much discussed by critics of Morte d'Arthur. Malory's one major discussion of love is misleading. At the beginning of the tale of The Knight of the Cart he compares love 'nowadayes' with the 'olde love' of 'kynge Arthurs dayes.' Today, he says, love is as easily lost as the way in which winter drives out summer, but in the past men loved differently, for then in love there was 'jantylnes,' 'servyse,' and 'kynde dedes.' Such was 'vertuouse love' (111920). When he says these things, however, Malory is closing his eyes to his own telling of the tale, never mind the facts of history. There was lust in Arthur's day and there was infidelity, for even Tristram betrays Isode and takes a wife, and Gareth is unfaithful to his promise to Lyoness as soon as he comes to Gryngamour's castle. Malory's statement seems to come from a moment of sentiment, and he would probably have denied its truth at another time. The kind of love suggested by Malory's phrase 'vertuouse love' is only a flight of fancy as far as the Arthurian world is concerned. 11 P.E. Tucker The Place of the "Quest of the Holy Grail" in the "Morte

202 Notes to pages 101-5



14 15 16


18 19 20


Darthur" ' MLR 48 (1953) 394 notes that Lancelot lacks 'absolutely unwavering resolution' and that the 'effort demanded is too much for him.' Even so, not all Malory's interventions are equally important for the theme of the work. After describing Tristram's education and stressing his knowledge of harping and hunting, he says, for example, that this is how a gentleman should be brought up, for only in this way can 'all men of worshyp ... discever a jantylman frome a yoman and a yoman frome a vylayne' (375). Such distinctions matter to Malory, but thematically the comment is not important. When Tristram is imprisoned, Malory speaks feelingly about the misery that sickness can bring to a man in prison. This observation, as Vinaver says The Works (1478), with its 'unmistakable personal ring,' should be associated with Malory's references to his own imprisonment. Though interesting in itself, such an autobiographical comment has no relevance to the work's major ideas. We think especially of the Alliterative Morte Arthure and of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but we must not forget works such as The Awntyrs of Arthur and Lancelot of the Laik. See A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500 ed Albert E. Hartung (New Haven 1972) in 768. Roger Ascham The Schoolmaster (1570) 68-9 The Lincoln's Inn MS and MS Douce 236 are both dated to the fifteenth century (Macrae-Gibson n 40 and 42). It continued to circulate even later in manuscript form (John Stow's sixteenth-century transcript and the seventeenthcentury Percy Folio MS) and also in printed form. It was published by Wynkyn de Worde under the title Marlyn in at least three editions (c 1500, 1510, and 1529) (Macrae-Gibson n 43-4). N.F. Blake 'Caxton Prepares His Edition of the Morte Darthur,' Journal of Librarianship 8 (1976) 274 argues that there is no need to postulate that any more than three manuscripts of Malory ever existed - the original, the Winchester MS, and Caxton's MS from which he made his printed edition. See Fletcher 193-9, 214-20, 241-5, and 251-4 for details. Blake 283-4 After Caxton published it in 1485, Wynkyn de Worde brought out two more editions, in 1498 and 1539. He was followed by William Copland in 1557. There were further editions in 1585 and 1634 (Vinaver The Works c-ci). The editions and the criticism, however, do no more than show that this particular work was popular. It does not follow that the story of Arthur in general terms was either popular or known (Blake 279). Blake goes so far as to call Caxton's publication of Malory a gamble.

203 Notes to pages 108-10 CHAPTER 6

1 2 3 4

5 6


8 9 10

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

James D. Merriman The Flower of Kings 36 Merriman 38 H.S. Bennett English Books & Readers, 1475 to 7557 22 The quotation comes from A Very Frutefull and Pleasant Boke Called the Instruction of a Christen Woman. Turned into English by R. Hyde (1529?) STC 24856. This edition appeared in 1540. In the Latin original, Vives lists no English works he would see banned, but Hyde, in his translation, adds some of his own: 'In Englande Parthenope/ Genarides/ Hippomadon/ William and Melyour/ Libius and Arthur/ Guye/ Beuis/ and many other' (i 5). Nathaniel Baxter The Epistle Dedicator ye' The Lectures or Daily Sermons, of that Reuerend Diuine D. lohn Caluine (London 1578) STC 4432. Quoted by Velma B. Richmond The Popularity of Middle English Romance (Bowling Green, Ohio 1975) 12. For similar comments see such works as Thomas Nicolls Thucyaides, The Hystory (1550), Edward Dering A brief & necessary instruction (1572), Meredith Hammer Auncient Ecclesiastical Histories (1577), E.K.'s gloss to the April Eclogue (1579), Thomas Nashe The Anatomie ofAbsurditie (1589), Francis Meres Palladia Tamia (1598), and Sir William Cornwallis Essay 15 (1600). See Henry Parrott's comment on the reading tastes of a 4Countrey-Farmer' in The Mastive (1615), quoted by Louis B. Wright Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England 96. In the same passage, Parrott refers to the classical preferences of Thomas Nicolls and Sir William Cornwallis. Notes of Ben Jonson's Conversations with William Drummond ofHawthornden, January, M.DC.XIX 10. In G. Gregory Smith Elizabethan Critical Essays (Oxford 1904) n 25 Karl Brunner 'Middle English Metrical Romances and Their Audience' in Studies in Medieval Literature: In Honor of Professor Albert Croll Baugh, ed MacEdward Leach (Philadelphia 1961) 225 Ronald S. Crane The Vogue of Medieval Chivalric Romance during the English Renaissance 7 Wright 376 Crane 128-30 Lee Monroe Ellison The Early Romantic Drama at the English Court 52 Bennett 149 Wright 378 Ellison 55-9 Crane tells us (7-8) that in 1481 there were five French prose romances in the

204 Notes to pages 111-16

19 20 21 22 23 24 25

26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

library of Sir Thomas Howard, a French prose Merlin in the royal library at Richmond Castle in the early sixteenth century, a three-volume copy of Lancelot du Lake in the library of the earl of Kildare in 1526. He states that even a London grocer, Thomas Crull, owned 'two ffrenche bokes of the life of King Arthur' in 1540. Laneham Letter, ed Furnivall xii Wright 116 The Complaynt of Scotlande 62 Barber 138, Ernest A. Baker The History of the English Novel (London 192439) n 197 Walter R. Davis Idea and Art in Elizabethan Fiction (Princeton 1969) 267 Richard Johnson R.I., The Most Pleasant History of Tom a Lincolne xii-xiii There is no firm evidence to show that the play Chinone of Ingland, which according to Henslowe's Diary was acted eleven times between 3 January 1595 and 10 November 1596, was based on Middleton's romance. Crane, Vogue 147 ni7 Thomas Middleton Hengist, King of Kent: or The Mayor of Queenborough xxxviii ni Merritt E. Lawlis 'Shakespeare, Deloney, and the Earliest Text of the Arthur Ballad' Harvard Lib Bull 10 (1956) 130-1 R.G. Howarth Two Elizabethan Writers of Fiction: Thomas Nashe and Thomas Deloney (Wynberg 1956) 38 William Dinsmore Briggs 'King Arthur and King Cornwall' JEGP 3 (1901) 345-51 Charles Bowie Millican The Original of the Ballad "Kinge Arthurs Death" in the Percy Folio MS' PMLÁ 46 (1931) 1023 Robert H. Wilson 'Malory and the Ballad "King Arthur's Death" ' Medievalia et Humanística 6 (1975) 143 Wilson 'Malory' 146 The English and Scottish Popular Ballads ed Francis James Child i 257-60 Child i 292 Gordon Hall Gerould The Ballad of Tradition 4 C.R. Baskervill 'Some Evidence for Early Romantic Plays in England' MP 14 (1916)479 Baskervill 229 Ellison 62 F.P. Wilson, The English Drama 1485-1585 (Oxford 1969) 121 In The English Drama and Stage under the Tudor and Stuart Princes 15431668 ed W.C. Hazlitt (1869, rpt New York 1960) 188-9 Felix E. Schelling The English Chronicle Play 31 and Irving Ribner The Eng-

2O5 Notes to pages 116-23

43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


lis h History Play in the Age of Shakespeare 17. E.M.W. Tilly ard, Shakespeare's History Plays (London 1959) loo-i plays down the importance of the patriotism created by the Armada in the development of the chronicle play. Schelling 53-4 Ribner 224 Middleton Hengist xiii Ribner 261 In Early English Classical Tragedies, ed John W. Cunliffe 217-96 Cunliffe xc William A. Armstrong 'Elizabethan Themes in The Misfortunes of Arthur' RES ns 7 (1956) 238 Ribner229-30 Armstrong 239 Armstrong 246-7 Ribner 235 Armstrong 241 Gertrude Reese 'Political Import of The Misfortunes of Arthur" RES 21 (1945) 82 and Ribner 232-3. Armstrong thinks (372) that an even more specific parallel is intended by the expression the 'Bastard Coouie of Italian birdes.' This suggests to him Anthony Babington, the seminary priest who conducted the conspiracy of 1586. Evangelia H. Waller 'A Possible Interpretation of The Misfortunes of Arthur,' JEGP 24 (1925) 244 Richard Vliet Lindabury A Study of Patriotism in the Elizabethan Drama (Princeton 1931) 53 Robert Chester ''Love's Martyr, or, Rosalins Complaint' (1601) 35 Douglas Bush English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 16001660 (London 1945) 351 Bernard H. Newdigate Michael Dray ton and His Circle (1941, rpt Oxford 1961) 158 Drayton Poly-Olbion John Selden's Preface to the Illustrations, x Lily B. Campbell Tudor Conceptions of History and Tragedy in 'A Mirror for Magistrates' 18 Roberta Florence Brinkley Arthurian Legends in the Seventeenth Century 64. Unfortunately, I have not personally seen a copy of the 1610 edition. Homer Nearing English Historical Poetry 1599-1641 48 Rosemary Freeman The Fairie Queene 36. See also Derek Traversi 'Spenser's Fairie Queene' in The Age of Chaucer ed Boris Ford (Harmondsworth 1954) 217, who calls it an 'undeniable failure' because of its conflicting purposes. As Merriman points out (40), this puzzlement about Arthur is by no means

2o6 Notes to pages 123-9

67 68 69 70

71 72 73 74 75 76 77

confined to twentieth-century readers. John Hughes, Spenser's first editor in 1715, could not see Arthur as the hero of the poem, nor a little later could Thomas Warton and Bishop Hurd. Spenser ignores the well-established chronicle tradition that Arthur became king at the age of fifteen. Pauline M. Parker The Allegory of the Faerie Queene 302 Merriman 41 Helen Morris Elizabethan Literature (London 1958) 48, Parker 136, and Merritt Y. Hughes The Arthurs of The Faerie Queene'' 205, respectively, make these statements. Josephine Waters Bennett The Evolution of'The Fairie Queene' 23 and 37 The case is different in lighter works where the novelty of new depictions of Arthur is often intended for comic purposes. Cummings Spenser: The Critical Heritage 6 Cummings 9 Cummings 17 Quoted by Cummings (186) from Abraham Cowley's Of Myself (1668). It is not only the kind of figure that Arthur is and what he stands for that troubles us in Spenser's poem; the way he is used in the plot is also cause for concern. Even if he is not quite the deus ex machina that Morris claims he is (48), Josephine Bennett (54) sees a genuine problem in the mechanical way he appears at the same identical point in canto 8 in four of the six books, and the way he always leaves in time for the hero of the book to be featured in the final episode. CHAPTER 7

1 Chaucer's parody of the genre in Sir Thopas is usually cited. See, for example, Arthur K. Moore 'Sir Thopas as Criticism of Fourteenth-Century Minstrelsy' JEGP 53 (1954) 532. Howard Rollin Patch 'Chaucer and Mediaeval Romance,' in Essays in Memory of Barrett Wendell by his assistants (Cambridge 1926) 107 disagrees, balancing the critical tone of Sir Thopas with the more favourable note of The Squire's Tale. 2 I. Gollancz 'Chivalry in Medieval English Poetry' in Chivalry ed Edgar Prestage (London 1928) 173 3 D.S. Brewer 'Chaucer and Chrétien and Arthurian Romance' in Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honour of Rossell Hope Robbins ed Beryl Rowland (London 1974) 258 4 Loomis 'Chivalric and Romantic Imitations of Arthurian Romance' 82

207 Notes to pages 156-69 5 G.R. Owst Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England 2nd ed (Oxford 1961) 161 6 Less clear are Jonson's statement (cxix) that James wears Arthur's crown and sits in Arthur's chair and Davis' claim (cxxvin) that Charles occupies Arthur's seat. That such flattery was apparently acceptable has to mean that Arthur was not yet completely discredited. 7 Hoccleve's plea to Oldcastle (XLIII) to substitute reading about Lancelot for dangerous material seems to suggest that he approves of chivalric romance. He is not just saying that such works are harmless. Sidney's praise of 'honest King Aurthur" (xcin) also indicates that the theme still found favour in some quarters. 8 See cxxii, cxxxi, cxxxiv, cxxxv. In view of the generally critical tone of Jonson's writings about Arthur, we might wonder about the accuracy of Drummond's report (cxxni) that Jonson praised Arthurian fiction as grounds for a heroic poem. 9 Dennis V. Moran 'The Parlement of the Thre Ages: Meaning and Design' Neophilologus 62 (1978) 623 10 Moran 624 11 For other examples see xi, xiv, xxxi, XLV, XLVII, LXIII. Though Thomas de Hales'Love Ron does not use the Nine Worthies, it is an early example of preaching against the vanity of earthly things, and it does have an Arthurian reference in that it cites Tristan and Iseult. CHAPTER 8 1 There can be no guarantee, of course, that the readers who saw the chronicles were all in holy orders. We can be more certain about their authors, if that is any guide. Laura Keeler discusses thirty-two Latin chronicles from the period 1300 to 1500. Of these, twenty-six are by religious writers and only two are by known secular authors. The status of the authors of the other four is unknown. 2 Houseman 'Higden, Trevisa, Caxton, and the Beginnings of Arthurian Criticism' RES 23 (1947) 214 thinks that Trevisa may have been speaking as an angry Cornishman reacting to the 'vilification of a Celtic hero' rather than as an Englishman reacting to an attack on an English king. 3 Anderson History 30 4 See catalogue in chapter 7, LXXXVIII and xc. 5 The most notable example is the encounter between Sir Gawain and Sir Priamus. 6 See catalogue in chapter 7, cxiv, cxxiv, cxxvn, cxxx, and cxxxni.

This page intentionally left blank

Select Bibliography

The bibliography lists all the primary sources used in this study along with the more important secondary sources. The order is alphabetical by author where known and by title when the author is not known. PRIMARY SOURCES

Adam de Usk Chronicon Adae de Usk A.D. 1377-1421 ed and trans Sir Edward Maunde Thompson 2nd ed (London 1904) The Alliterative Morte Arthure ed Valerie Krishna (New York 1976) The All-Virtuous She' in Secular Lyrics of the xivth and xvth Centuries ed Rossell Hope Robbins 2nd ed (Oxford 1955) 129-30 4 Ane Ballet of the Nine Nobles' in The Parlement of the Thre Ages, ed I. Gollancz (London 1915) 'Annot and Johon' in English Lyrics of the xiiith Century ed Carleton Brown (Oxford 1932) 136-8 The Anonymous Short English Metrical Chronicle ed E. Zettl (EETS 196, 1934) 'An Apology for Poetry' in Elizabethan Critical Essays ed G. Gregory Smith 2 vols (London 1904) i 148-207 Arthur: A Short Sketch of His Life and History in English Verse ed Frederick J. Furnivall (EETS 2, 1864) Ascham, Roger The Schoolmaster (1570) ed Lawrence V. Ryan (Ithaca 1967) - Toxophilus' Roger Ascham: English Works ed William Aldis Wright (Cambridge 1904) 1-119 The Avowing of King Arthur, Sir Gawain, Sir Kay, and Baldwin of Britain' in Middle English Metrical Romances ed Walter Hoyt French and Charles Brockway Hale 2 vols (1930, rpt New York 1964) 607-46

2io Select Bibliography The Awntyrs off Arthur e at the Terne Wathelyne ed Robert J. Gates (Philadelphia 1969) The Battle of Barnet' in Historical Poems of the xivth and xvth Centuries ed Rossell Hope Robbins (New York 1959) 226-7 Baxter, Nathaniel The Epistle Dedicatorye' The Lectures or Daily Sermons, of That Reuerend Diuine, D. lohn Caluine (London, 1578) STC 4432 Beaumont, Francis The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher ed A. Glover and A.R. Waller 10 vols (Cambridge 1905-12) Beroul The Romance of Tristan ed A. Ewert 2 vols (Oxford 1970-1) - The Romance of Tristan trans Alan S. Fedrick (Harmondsworth 1970) The Bisson Leads the Blind,' in Historical Poems of the xivth and xvth Centuries ed Rossell Hope Robbins (New York 1959) 127-30 Boece, Hector The Chronicles of Scotland ed R.W. Chambers and Edith C. Batho (STS 3rd series 10, 1938) The Boke of Noblesse introduction by John Gough Nichols (1860, rpt New York 1972) Bonet, Honoré The Tree of Battles trans G.W. Coopland (Liverpool 1949) Browne, William 'Britannia's Pastorals' in The Poems of William Browne of Tavistock ed Gordon Goodwin 2 vols (London 1894) The Bruce or The Book of the Most Excellent and Noble Prince Robert de Broyss, King of Scots Compiled by Master John Barhour ed Walter W. Skeat (EETS ES il, 55, 2i, and 29, 1870-89) The Brut or The Chronicles of England ed Friedrich W.D. Brie (EETS 131 and 136, 1906) The Buik of the Most Noble and Vail^eand Conquer our Alexander the Great ed William Henry Miller (1834, rpt New York 1971) Burton, Robert The Anatomy of Melancholy ed Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (New York 1927) Capgrave, John The Chronicle of England ed Francis Charles Hingeston (London 1858) Carew, Richard The Survey of Cornwall (London 1602) STC 4615 Castiglione, Baldassare The Book of the Courtier ... Translated by Sir Thomas Hoby introduction by W.H.D. Rouse (London 1928) Cavendish, George 'Epytaphe' in English Verse between Chaucer and Surrey ed Eleanor Prescott Hammond (1927, rpt New York 1965) 368-82 Caxton, William The Book of Fay ties of Armes and of Chyualrye ed A.T.P. Byles (EETS 189, 1932) - The Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry ed Alfred T.P. Byles (EETS 168, 1926) - Godeffroy of Boloyne ed Mary Noyés Colvin (EETS ES 64, 1893) Chandos Herald Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos ed Mildred K. Pope and Eleanor C. Lodge (Oxford 1910)

2ii Select Bibliography Chaucer, Geoffrey Complete Works ed W.W. Skeat 7 vols (Oxford 1894-7) Chester, Robert 'Love's Martyr, or, Rosalins Complaint'(1601) ed Alexander B. Grosart (London 1878) Chestre, Thomas Thomas Chestre: Sir Launfal ed A.J. Bliss (London 1960) Chronicon de Lanercost ed Joseph Stevenson (Edinburgh 1839) Churchyard, Thomas The Worthiness of Wales (London 1587) STC 5261 The Cock in the North' in Historical Poems of the xivth and xvth Centuries ed Rossell Hope Robbins (New York 1959) 115-17 Coke, John The Debate betwene the Her aides of Englande and Fraunce (London 1550) STC 5530 The Complaynt of Scotlande ed James A.H. Murray (EETS ES 17 and 18 1872) The Coventry Leet Book in Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays ed Hardin Craig (EETS ES 87, 1957) Craig, Alexander To His Calidonian Mistris' in The Poetical Works ed David Laing (1873, rpt New York 1966) The Crowned King' in Historical Poems of the xivth and xvth Centuries ed Rossell Hope Robbins (New York 1959) 227-32 Cursor Mundi ed Richard Norris (EETS 57, 59, 62, 66, 68, 99, and 101, 1874-93) Davies, John 'Charles His Waine' in The Poems ed Robert Krueger (Oxford 1975) 231-2 - John Davies, of Hereford Microcosmos (Oxford 1603) STC 6333 Death and Life ed I. Gollancz (London 1930) Dekker, Thomas The Dramatic Works ed Fredson Bowers 4 vols (Cambridge: 1953-61) - The Non-Dramatic Works ed Alexander B. Grosart 5 vols (1884-6, rpt New York 1963) Deloney, Thomas The Garland of Good Will' in The Works of Thomas Deloney ed Francis Oscar Mann (Oxford 1912) i no 8, 323-6 Dering, Edward A Brief & Necessary Instruction, Verye Needeful to Bee Knowen of All Householders (London 1572) STC 6679 Diaz de Gamez, Gutierre The Unconquered Knight: A Chronicle of the Deeds of Don Pero Nino trans Joan Evans (London 1928) 'A Disputation between a Christian and a Jew' in The Minor Poems of the Vernon MS., Part ii, ed FJ. Furnivall (EETS 117, 1901) Drayton, Michael Poly-Olbion ed J William Hall (1933, rpt Oxford 1961) Dunbar, William The Poems ed John Small, 3 vols (Edinburgh 1893) 'Each Man Ought Himself to Know' in Religious Lyrics of the xivth Century ed Carleton Brown 2nd ed rev G.V. Smithers (Oxford 1957) 139-42 'Early Mumming-Play' in The Parlement of the Thre Ages ed I. Gollancz (London I9I5)

212 Select Bibliography The Romance of Emare ed Edith Rickert (EETS ES 99, 1908) The English and Scottish Popular Ballads ed Francis James Child (1882-98, rpt New York 1965) Erthe upon Erthe ed Hilda M.R. Murray (EETS 141, 1911) Fabyan, Robert The New Chronicle of England and France, in Two Parts ed Henry Ellis (London 1811) Feylde, Thomas A Contrauersye bytwene a Louer and a laye (London 1522?) STC 10839 Flores Historiarum ed Henry Richard Luard 3 vols (RS 95, 1890) The Floure and the Leaf e and The Assembly of Ladies ed D.A. Pearsall (London 1962) Froissart, Jean The Chronicles of Jean Froissart in Lord Berners ' Translation, ed Gillian and William Anderson (London 1963) Geoffrey of Monmouth Historia Regum Britanniae ed Acton Griscom (London 1929) - Life of Merlin. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Vita Merlini ed Basil Clarke (Cardiff 1973) Gerald of Wales The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis ed Thomas Wright (1863, rpt New York 1968) - Itinerarium Kambriae et Descriptio Kambriae vol 6 of Giraldi Cambrensis Opera ed J.F. Dimock (RS 21, 1868) - Topographia Hibernica et Expugnatio Hibernica vol 5 of Giraldi Cambrensis Opera ed J.F. Dimock (RS 21, 1867) Gervase of Tilbury Des Gervasius von Tilbury Otia Imperialia ed F. Liebrecht (Hanover 1856) Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis ed William Stubbs (RS 49, 1867) 'Golagros and Gawane' in Scottish Alliterative Poems ed F.J. Amours (STS 27, 1897) Gosson, Stephen Tlayes Confuted in Fiue Actions' in The English Drama and Stage under the Tudor and Stuart Princes 1543-1668 ed W.C. Hazlitt (1869, rpt New York 1960) Gower, John The English Works ed G.C. Macaulay 2 vols (EETS ES 81 and 82, 1900-1) Gray, Sir Thomas Scalacronica ed Joseph Stevenson (Edinburgh 1836) The Grene Knight' in Sir Gawayne ed Sir Frederic Madden (1839, rpt New York 1971) 224-42 Harding, John The Chronicle of lohn Hardyng ed Henry Ellis (1812, rpt New York 1974) Harington, Sir John Translation of Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto ed Graham Hough (London 1962)

213 Select Bibliography Hawes, Stephen The Pastime of Pleasure ed William Edward Mead (EETS 173, 1928) Henry of Huntingdon Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum ed Thomas Arnold (RS 74, 1879) Henry the Minstrel Schir William Wallace ed James Moir (STS 6, 7, and 17, 1889) Henslowe, Philip Diary ed Walter W. Greg 2 vols (London 1904-8) Heywood, Thomas Troia Británica (London 1609) facsimile ed (Hildesheim 1972) Higden, Ranulph Polychronicon ... with the English Translations of John Trevisa ed C. Babington and J.R. Lumby 9 vols (London 1858) Higgins, John Parts Added to the Mirror for Magistrates by John Higgins and Thomas Blenerhasset ed Lily B. Campbell (Cambridge 1946) Hoccleve, Thomas Works: The Minor Poems i ed FJ. Furnivall (EETS ES 61, 1892) Holinshed, Raphael Chronicles: England, Scotland and Ireland ed J. Johnson et al 6 vols (1807-8, rpt New York 1965) Hughes, Thomas The Misfortunes of Arthur' in Early English Classical Tragedies ed John W. Cunliffe (Oxford 1912) 217-96 Hyde, R. A Very Frutefull and Pleasant Boke Called the Instruction of a Christen Woman. Turned into English by R. Hyde (1529?) STC 24856 Jean de Venette The Chronicle trans Jean Birdsall, ed Richard A. Newhall (New York 1953) The Jeaste of Syr Gawayne' in Syr Gawayne ed Sir Frederic Madden (1839, rpt New York 1971) John of Fordun Johannis de Fordun Chronica Genus Scotorum ed William F. Skene 2 vols (Edinburgh 1871-2) John of Salisbury lonnis Saresberiensis Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici ed Clemens C.I. Webb (1909, rpt Frankfurt 1965) Johnson, Richard R.L, The Most Pleasant History of Tom a Lincolne ed Richard S.M. Hirsch (Columbia 1978) Jonson, Ben The Complete Plays ed G.A. Wilkes 4 vols (Oxford 1981) - Notes of Ben Jonson fs Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthornden. January, M.DC.XIX ed David Laing (London 1842) - The Works ed C.H. Herford, Percy and Evelyn Simpson il vols (Oxford 1925-52) The Justes of the Moneths of May and June' in Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England ed W. Carew Hazlitt 4 vols (London 1864-6) n 109-30 King Arthur's Death ed Larry D. Benson (Indianapolis 1974) La3amon Brut ed G.L. Brook and R.F. Leslie (EETS 250 and 277, 1963-78) Lancelot of the Laik ed W.W. Skeat 2nd ed (EETS 6, 1870) Lancelot of the Laik ed Margaret M. Gray (STS 2, 1912) Laneham, Robert A Letter: [1575] (Menston 1968) - Letter ed F.J. Furnivall (London 1907)

214 Select Bibliography Lanquet, Thomas An Epitome of Crómeles 1569 STC 15217 Leland, John Assertio Inclytissimi Arturii Régis Britanniae (1544) in The Famous Historie of Chinon of England ed W.E. Mead (EETS 165, 1925) Leslie, Jhone The Historie of Scotland ed E.G. Cody and William Murison (STS 19 and 34,1889-95) Lindsay, David The Works of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount 1490-1555 ed Douglas Hamer (STS 3rd series I, 2, 6, and 8, 1930-4) - Squyer Meldrum ed James Kinsley (London 1959) Lloyd, H. The Historie of Cambria, Now Called Wales ... Translated into English by H. Lloyd' printed as no 163 of The English Experience (Amsterdam 1969) Lloyd, Richard A Brief e Discourse of the Most Renowned Actes and Right Valiant Conquests of... the Nine Worthies (London 1584) STC 16374 Lovelich, Henry Merlin ed E.A. Kock (EETS ES 93 and 112, os 185, 1904-32) The Lover's Mass,' in English Verse between Chaucer and Surrey ed Eleanor Prescott Hammond (1927, rpt New York 1965) 207-13 Lybeaus Desconus ed M. Mills EETS 261 (London 1969) Lydgate, John The Assembly of Gods ed Oscar Lovell Triggs (EETS ES 69, 1896) - 'Ballade to King Henry vi' in The Minor Poems of John Lydgate: Part u, Secular Poems ed Henry Noble MacCracken (EETS 192, 1934) 624-30 - The Complaint of the Black Knight,' in The Minor Poems of John Lydgate: Part u, Secular Poems ed Henry Noble MacCracken (EETS 192, 1934) 382-410 - Fall of Princes ed Henry Bergen (EETS ES 121-4, 1924-7) - 'Merita Missae,' in The Lay Folks Mass Book ed T.E. Simmons (EETS 71, 1879) Appendix v - Reson and Sensually te ed Ernst Sieper (EETS ES 84 and 89, 1901-3) - "That Now Is Hay Some-Tyme Was Grase' in The Minor Poems of John Lydgate: Part n, Secular Poems ed Henry Noble MacCracken (EETS 192, 1934) 809-13 - Troy Book ed Henry Bergen (EETS ES 97, 103, 106, and 126, 1906-35) The Mabinogion trans Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones (London 1949) Major, John A History of Greater Britain trans Archibald Constable (SHS 10, 1892) Malory, Sir Thomas The Works ed Eugene Vinaver 2nd ed 3 vols (Oxford 1967) - The Morte Darthur Parts Seven and Eight by Sir Thomas Malory ed D.S. Brewer (London 1968) Mandeville, Sir John The Metrical Version of Mandeville's Travels ed M.C. Seymour (EETS 269, 1973) Manning, Robert The Story of England by Robert Mannyng of Brunne, A.D. 1338 ed Frederick J. Furnivall 2 vols (RS 87, 1887) Marlowe, Christopher The Works ed C.F. Tucker Brooke (Oxford 1910)

215 Select Bibliography Marston, John The Works ed A.H. Bullen 3 vols (London 1887) Massinger, Philip The Plays and Poems ed Philip Edwards and Colin Gibson 5 vols (Oxford 1976) Meres, Francis Talladis Tamia' in Elizabethan Critical Essays ed G. Gregory Smith 2 vols (London 1904) n 308-24 Merlin, a Prose Romance ed H.B. Wheatley (EETS 10, 21, 36, and 112, 1899) Middleton, Christopher The Famous Historie of Chinon of England ed William Edward Mead (EETS 165, 1925) Middleton, Thomas The Works ed Alexander Dyce 5 vols (London 1840) - Hengist, King of Kent; or The Mayor of Queenborough ed R.C. Bald (New York 1938) Minot, Laurence Poems ed Joseph Hall (Oxford 1897) Le Morte Arthur ed J. Douglas Bruce (EETS ES 88, 1903) Morte Arthure ed Edmund Brock (EETS 8, 1865) Morte Arthure ed John Finlayson (London 1967) Mojyson, Fynes An Itinerary Written by F. Mor y son, Gent. J. Beale, 1617 STC 18205 Mum and the Sothsegger ed Mabel Day and Robert Steele (EETS 199, 1936) Nashe, Thomas The Works ed Ronald B. McKerrow 5 vols (London 1910) OfArthour and of Merlin, ed O.D. Macrae-Gibson (EETS 268 and 279, 1973-9) Paris, Matthew Matthaei Parisiensis, Monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica Majora ed H.R. Luard 7 vols (London 1872-80) The Parlement of the Thre Ages ed M.Y. Offord (EETS 246, 1959) Partonope of Blois ed A.T. Bodtker (EETS ES 109, 1912) The Pasión Letters, 1422-1509 A.D. ed James Gairdner 4 vols (London 1900-8) Patience ed J.J. Anderson (Manchester 1969) The Percy Folio ed I. Gollancz 4 vols (London 1905-10) Pierre de Langtoft The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft in French verse, from the earliest period to the death of King Edward i ed Thomas Wright 2 vols (London i860) Ralph de Diceto The Historical Works ed William Stubbs 2 vols (RS 68, 1876) Rastell, John The Pastime of People, or, The Chronicle of Divers Realms, 1529 (London 1811) Richard of Cirencester Speculum Historíale de Gestis Regum Angliae ed John E.B. Mayor 2 vols (RS 30, 1863) Robert of Gloucester The Metrical Chronicle ed William Aldis Wright (RS 86, 1887) Robinson, Richard 'Robinson's Assertion of King Arthure with the Latin Original of Leland' in The Famous Historie of Chinon of England by Christopher Middleton ed William Edward Mead (EETS 165, 1925)

2i6 Select Bibliography Roger of Hoveden 'Ex Rogeri de Hoveden Chronica' in Monumento Germaniae Histórica ed F. Liebermann and R. Pauli (1885, rpt Stuttgart 1975) xxvn 133-83) Rolland, John Ane Treatise Callit the Court of Venus ed Walter Gregor (STS 3, 1884) The Romans of Partenay ed W.W. Skeat (EETS 22, 1866) Rowley, William The Birth of Merlin ed John S. Farmer (Tudor Facsimile Texts 1910) The Sege off Melayne, The Romance of Duke Rowland and Sir Otuell of Spayne ed Sidney J. Herrtage (EETS ES 35, 1880) The Seven Sages of Rome ed Karl Brunner (EETS 191, 1933) Shakespeare, William The Complete Works ed Hardin Craig (Chicago 1961) Sidney, Sir Philip The Norwich Sidney Manuscript: The Apology for Poetry ed Mary R. Mahl (Northridge, California 1969) The Romance of Sir Beues of Hamtoun ed Eugen Kolbing (EETS ES 46, 48, and 65, 1885-94) The Romance of Sir Dégrevant ed L.F. Casson (EETS 221, 1949) Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle in Two Versions ed Auvo Kurvinen (Helsinki 1951) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ed J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon 2nd ed rev N. Davis (Oxford 1968) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ed I. Gollancz (EETS 210, 1940) 'Sir Landeval' in Thomas Chestre: Sir Launfal ed A.J. Bliss (London 1960) 105-28 'Sir Perceval of Galles' in Middle English Metrical Romances ed W.H. French and C.B. Hale 2 vols (1930, rpt New York 1964) 529-603 Sir Tristrem ed George P. McNeill (STS 8, 1886) Skelton, John The Complete Poems ed Philip Henderson 2nd ed (London 1948) Spenser, Edmund The Poetical Works ed J.C. Smith and E. de Selincourt (London 1912) - A View of the Present State of Ireland ed W.L. Renwick (London 1934) 'The Squire of Low Degree' in Middle English Metrical Romances ed Walter Hoyt French and Charles Brockway Hale 2 vols (1930, rpt New York 1964) 721-55 Stewart, William The Buik of the Croniclis of Scotland; or A Metrical Version of the History of Hector Boece ed William B. Turnbull 3 vols (RS 6, 1858) Stow, John The Chronicles of England, from Brute vnto this present yeare 1580 STC 23333 'Thersytes' in English Miracle Plays, Moralities and Interludes ed Alfred W. Pollard 8th ed (Oxford 1927) 126-45 'Friar Thomas de Hales' Love Ron' in English Lyrics of the xinth Century ed Carleton Brown (Oxford 1932) 68-74

2iy Select Bibliography The Thrush and the Nightingale' in English Lyrics of the ximh Century ed Carleton Brown (Oxford 1932) 101-7 Tourneur, Cyril The Works ed Allardyce Nicoll (1929, rpt New York 1963) Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads ed R. Bromwich (Cardiff 1961) The Turke and Gowin' in Syr Gawayne ed Sir Frederic Madden (1839, rpt New York 1971) 243-55 Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays ed Hardin Craig (EETS ES 87, 1957) Udall, Nicholas Ralph Roister Doister, a Comedy ed William Durrant Cooper (London 1847) Upton, Nicholas The Essential Portions of Nicholas Upton's De Studio Militari before 1446 ed Francis Pierrepont Barnard (Oxford 1931) Valentine and Orson, translated from the French by Henry Watson ed Arthur Dickson (EETS 204, 1937) Vergil, Polydore English History, from an Early Translation ed Sir Henry Ellis (1846, rpt New York 1968) The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame RagnelF ed Laura Sumner, rpt in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ed W.F. Bryan and G. Dempster (London 1958) 242-64 Warner, William Albions England, or Historicall Map of the Same Island 1586 STC 25079 William of Malmesbury The History of the Kings of England ed Joseph Stevenson (London 1854) William of Newburgh The History of William of Newburgh: The Chronicles of Robert de Monte ed Joseph Stevenson (London 1856) William of Worcester William Worcestre Itineraries ed John H. Harvey (Oxford 1969) Ywain and Gawain ed Albert B. Friedman and Norman T. Harrington (EETS 254, 1964) SECONDARY SOURCES

Ackerman, Robert W. An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English (1952, rpt New York 1967) Alcock, Leslie Arthur's Britain: History and Archaeology, AD 367-634 (Harmondsworth 1971) Alexander, Flora 'Late Medieval Scottish Attitudes to the Figure of King Arthur: A Reassessment',4«g7/tf 93 (1975) 17-34 Anderson, M.D. The Medieval Carver (Cambridge 1935) - History and Imagery in British Churches (London 1971) Anglo, Sydney The British History in Early Tudor Propaganda,' BJRL 44 (1961) 17-48

218 Select Bibliography - Spectacle, Pageantry, and Early Tudor Policy (Oxford 1969) - The Great Tournament Roll of Westminster (Oxford 1968) Ashe, Geoffrey (ed) The Quest for Arthur's Britain (London 1971) Barber, Richard The Figure of Arthur (London 1972) Barnie, John War in Medieval Society (London 1974) Bennett, H.S. English Books and Readers, 1475 to 1557 (Cambridge 1952) Bennett, Josephine Waters The Evolution of'The Faerie Queene ' (Chicago 1942) Benson, Larry D. Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (New Brunswick NJ 1965) - Malory's Morte Darthur (Cambridge Mass 1976) Blake, N.F. Caxton and his World (London 1969) - 'Caxton Prepares His Edition of the Morte Darthur,' Journal of Librarianship 8 (1976) 272-85 Bornstein, Diane 'William Caxton's Chivalric Romances and the Burgundian Renaissance in England,' ES 57 (1976) i-io Brault, Gerard J. Early Blazon: Heraldic Terminology in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries with Special Reference to Arthurian Literature (Oxford 1972) Brinkley, Roberta Florence Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century (Baltimore 1932) Bruce, James Douglas The Evolution of Arthurian Romance from the Beginning down to the Year 1300 2nd ed 2 vols (1928, rpt Gloucester Mass 1958) Burke, P. The Renaissance Sense of the Past (London 1969) Burrow, John A. A Reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (London 1965) - Ricardian Poetry (London 1971) Caillois, Roger Man, Play, and Games (New York 1961) Campbell, Lily B. Tudor Conceptions of History and Tragedy in 'A Mirror for Magistrates' (Berkeley 1936) Cary, G. The Medieval Alexander (Cambridge 1956) Chambers, E.K. Arthur of Britain (1927, rpt New York 1964) - Sir Thomas Malory (London 1922) - The Mediaeval Stage 2 vols (London 1903) Cline, Ruth Huff The Influence of Romances on Tournaments of the Middle Ages' Speculum 20 (1945) 204-11 Crane, Ronald S. The Vogue of Medieval Chivalric Romance during the English Renaissance (Menasha 1919) - The Vogue of Guy of Warwick from the Close of the Middle Ages to the Romantic Revival' PMLA 30 (1915) 125-94 Cripps-Day, Francis Henry The History of the Tournament in England and France (London 1918) Cummings, R.M. Spenser: The Critical Heritage (New York 1971)

219 Select Bibliography Cunliffe, John W. (ed) Early English Classical Tragedies (Oxford 1912) Davenport, W.A. The Art of the Gawain-Poet (London 1978) Dean, Christopher 'Sir Kay in Medieval English Romances: An Alternative Tradition' ESC 9 (1983) 125-35 Dean, Leonard F. Tudor Theories of History Writing, University of Michigan Contributions in Modern Philology I (Ann Arbor 1947) Denholm-Young, Noel The Tournament in the Thirteenth Century' in Studies in Medieval History Presented to Frederick Maurice Powicke ed R.W. Hunt et al (Oxford 1948)240-68 - History and Heraldry 1254 to 1310 (Oxford 1965) Dennys, Rodney The Heraldic Imagination (London 1975) Ditmas, E.M.R. The Cult of Arthurian Relics' Folklore 75 (1964) 19-33 - 'More Arthurian Relics' Folklore 77 (1966) 91-104 Dove, Mary 'Gawain and the Blasme des Femmes Tradition' Medium Aevum 41 (1972) 20-6 Du Boulay, F.R.H. An Age of Ambition (London 1970) Ellison, Lee Monroe The Early Romantic Drama at the English Court (Menasha 1917) Faral, Edmond La Légende Arthurienne - Etudes et Documents 3 vols (1929, rpt New York 1973) Ferguson, Arthur B. 'Circumstances and the Sense of History in Tudor England: The Coming of the Historical Revolution' Medieval and Renaissance Studies 3 (1968) 170-205 - The Indian Summer of English Chivalry (Durham NC 1960) Fletcher, Robert Huntington The Arthurian Material in the Chronicles 2nd ed rev R.S. Loomis (New York 1966) Freeman, Rosemary The Faerie Queene (Berkeley 1970) Gerould, Gordon Hall The Ballad of Tradition (1932, rpt New York 1957) Gôller, Karl Heinz (ed) The Alliterative Morte Arthure: A Re-assessment of the Poem (Cambridge 1981) Gransden, Antonia The Growth of the Glastonbury Traditions and Legends in the Twelfth Century' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 27 (1976) 337-58 Green, Richard Firth Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages (Toronto 1980) Greenlaw, Edwin Studies in Spenser's Historical Allegory (Baltimore 1932) Hanning, Robert W. The Vision of History in Early Britain: From Gildas to Geoffrey of Monmouth (New York 1966) Harvey, Ruth Moriz Von Craûn and the Chivalric World (Oxford 1961) Hay, Denys Poly dore Vergil: Renaissance Historian and Man of Letters (Oxford 1952)

220 Select Bibliography Henderson, Philip Richard Coeur de Lion (1958, rpt Westport 1976) Hughes, Merritt Y. The Arthurs of The Faerie Queene' Etudes Anglaises 6 (1953) 193-213 Huizinga, Johan Men and Ideas (London 1960) Jones, Thomas The Early Evolution of the Legend of Arthur' Nottingham Mediaeval Studies 8 (1964) 3-21 Keeler, Laura Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Late Latin Chroniclers 1300-1500 (Berkeley 1946) Keen, Maurice H. 'Huizinga, Kilgour and the Decline of Chivalry' Medievalia et Humanística 8 (1977) 1-20 - The Outlaws of Medieval Legend (London 1961) Kendrick, T.D. British Antiquity (London 1950) Kilgour, Raymond Lincoln The Decline of Chivalry as Shown in the French Literature of the Late Middle Ages (1937, rpt Gloucester 1966) Kipling, Gordon The Triumph of Honour: Burgundian Origins of the Elizabethan Renaissance (Leiden 1977) Lambert, Mark Malory: Style and Vision in Le Morte Darthur (New Haven 1975) Levy, FJ. Tudor Historical Thought (San Marino 1967) Loomis, Roger Sherman (ed) Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages (Oxford 1959) - 'Chivalric and Dramatic Imitations of Arthurian Romance' in Medieval Studies in Memory of A. Kingsley Porter ed Wilhelm R.W. Koehler 2 vols (Cambridge Mass 1939) i 79-97 - The Development of Arthurian Romance (London 1963) - 'Edward i, Arthurian Enthusiast' Speculum 28 (1953) 114-27 - and Laura Hibbard Loomis Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art New York 1938) Lot, Ferdinand Nennius et L'Hisloria Brittonum 2 vols (Paris 1934) Lumiansky, Robert M. The Alliterative Morte Arthure, the Concept of Medieval Tragedy, and the Cardinal Virtue Fortitude,' Medieval and Renaissance Studies 3 (1968) 95-118 - Malory's Originality (Baltimore 1964) Matthews, William The Tragedy of Arthur: A Study of the Alliterative 'Morte Arthure (Berkeley 1960) Maynadier, Howard The Arthur of the English Poets (Boston 1907) McKisack, May Medieval History in the Tudor Age (Oxford 1971) Merriman, James Douglas The Flower of Kings (Lawrence 1973) Millican, Charles Bowie Spenser and the Table Round (Cambridge 1932) Morris, Rosemary The Character of King Arthur in Medieval Literature (Cambridge 1982) Nearing, Homer English Historical Poetry, 1599-1641 (Philadelphia 1945)

221 Select Bibliography Painter, Sidney French Chivalry: Chivalric Ideas and Practices in Mediaeval France (1940, rpt Ithaca 1957) Parker, Pauline M. The Allegory of the Faerie Queene (Oxford 1960) Reid, Margaret J.C. The Arthurian Legend 2nd ed (Edinburgh 1960) Ribner, Irving The English History Play in the Age of Shakespeare (Princeton 1957) Russell, Frederick H. The Just War in the Middle Ages (Cambridge 1975) Russell, Joycelyne G. The Field of Cloth of Gold: Men and Manners in 1520 (London 1969) Sandoz, Edouard Tourneys in the Arthurian Tradition' Speculum 19 (1944) 389420 Schelling, Felix E. The English Chronicle Play (New York 1902) Shears, F.S. Froissart: Chronicler and Poet (London 1930) Spearing, A.C. The Gawain-Poet: A Critical Study (Cambridge 1970) Stuart Glennie, J.S. 'Arthurian Localities' in Merlin ed Henry B. Wheatley i (EETS 10 and 112, 1899) Tatlock, J.S.P. The Legendary History of Britain (1950, rpt New York 1974) Taylor, J. Medieval Historical Writing in Yorkshire (York 1961) Treharne, R.F. The Glastonbury Legends (London 1967) Turville-Petre, Thorlac The Alliterative Revival (Cambridge 1977) Vale, Juliet Edward in and Chivalry (Bury St Edmunds 1982) Vale, Malcolm War and Chivalry (London 1981) Vinaver, Eugene Malory (Oxford 1929) Watkin, Dom Aelred The Glastonbury "Pyramids" and St Patrick's Companions' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 27 (1976) 30-41 Whiting, B.J. 'Gawain: His Reputation, His Courtesy, and His Appearance in Chaucer's Squire's Tale" MS 9 (1947) 189-234 Wickham, Glynne Early English Stages, 1300-1600,11300-1576 (London 1959) Wilson, R.M. The Lost Literature of Medieval England (London 1952) Wright, Louis B. Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England (Chapel Hill 1935)

This page intentionally left blank


The index includes only the principal names and subjects discussed in the text. References to the notes are included only where there is significant discussion of a topic or where important information is given that has not appeared in the main text. The works and authors listed in the Appendix have not been included. Where the author of a work is known, references will be found under his or her name rather than under the title. Adam of Domerham 7-8, 9 Alexander the Great 5, 36, 57, 63, 156 Alfred of Beverley 10, 164 Alliterative Morte Arthure see Morte Arthure All- Virtuous She 136, 156, 159 André, Bernard 27, 28 Ane Ballet of the Nine Nobles 140, 157, 1 60 Annot and Johon 130,156,158 Anonymous Short Chronicle 13 Armes Prydein 26 art, works of (depicting Arthurian subjects): ewer 47-8; floor tiles 47; misericords 56-7, 1 66; stained glass 478; statue 48; tapestry 46-7; wall painting 48 Arthur, king of Britain: associated with the Virgin Mary 3, 25, 47, 53, 71; his battles with giants 4, 5, 1 I, 67, 86, 157, 1 60; his battles with giants not

believed 16; and the British Hope 4, 8, 26, 43, 61, 107, 160, 168, 183 n95; British Hope disbelieved 19, 164-5 (see also Edward iv, Henry vu); as a Christian king 12, 71, 121, 167; conceived by magic 4, n, 65, 120, 122, 1 60 (see also Merlin); coronation feast 12; cured of wounds in a magic land 4, 1 1; death believed in 11-12; debased portraits of 75, 80-2, 90, 112-13; his dog 51; his empire 4, ii, 30, 65, 121, 164, 167; his European conquests 4, 11, 36, 72-3, 1634; his European conquests not believed in 14, 16, 18, 19, 21-2, 23, 25; and folklore 60-2; founder of the Round Table 12, 29-30, 68; founder of Windsor 40, 120; and Lucius 4, ii, 35, 43, 68, 71-2, 86, 115; and Lucius disbelieved 19, 22; and Mount Bad on 3, 5, n, 14, 19, 59; as ruler of

224 Index the Antipodes 17; scepticism about his historicity 18-24, l^9 (see a^so Geoffrey of Monmouth; Vergil, Polydore); his sword 14, 53-4, 86, 157; treatment of by Scottish historians 24-5, 168; and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge 60; his wars with the Saxons 4, 11, 18-19, 21-2, 23,29,65,67,68, I2i, 164 Arthur, son of Henry vu 27, 43-4, 47, 168 Arthur, chronicle poem 104-5 Ascham, Roger 104, 108, 109 Avowing of King Arthur 80, 90 Awntyrs of Arthur 79-80 Barbour, John 134, 161 Battle of Bar net 140-1,158 Baxter, Nathaniel 108 Beaumont, Francis 152-4, 161, 168 Bede 19, 21 Bedevere 86 Belinus 27 Berners, Lord (John Bourchier) 109 Beroul 53 Bisson Leads the Blind 141 Blount, John 35 Boece, Hector 25, 50, 52 Bonet, Honoré 32, 34-5 Bors 14, 30, 86, 97, 99, 101, 200 n8 Boy and the Mantle 114-15 Browne, William 153, 157 Brut, chronicle 12, 27, 165 Brutus 7, 27, 28, 116, 120, 122 Burton, Robert 153-4, 160-1 Cador 5, 113, 120 Cadwalader 27, 28, 43, 44 Camel, river 122 Capgrave, John 27, i8on63 Carew, Richard 150, 157 Castiglione, Baldassare 36-7 Cavendish, George 146, 161

Caxton, William: Book of Fay ties of Armes and of Chyualrye 35-6; Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry 34, 35; Godeffroy of Boloyne 141,157; Preface to Morte d'Arthur 52, 55, 56, 102-4, 105 Cervantes, Miguel de 6o Chandos Herald 38, 134, 158 Chaucer, Geoffrey: House of Fame 134, 159; Miller's Tale 88; Nun's Priest's Tale 135, 159; Parlement of Fowles 134; Prologue to the Legend of Good Women 134, 159; Romance of the Rose 133, 158; Rosemounde 134, 156, 159; Squire's Tale 134-5, 158; Wife of Bath's Tale 128-9 Chester, Robert 29, 30, 52, 120, 126 Chevalier Bayard 37 chivalry: Arthur and his knights said to possess it 12, 34, 35, 38, 41-2, 45, 90, 1 10, I2i, 125, 161-2; said not to possess it 48, 159; Arthur's court a model of 75, 76, 80, 89, 90, 113, 163, 165, 169; said not to be a model of 76-8, 124; contemporary knights said to be without it 32-4; manuals of 34-5; orders of 46, 56, 166; see also Froissart, Malory Christine de Pisan 32-3, 35 Churchyard, Thomas 29 coats of arms: belonging to Arthur 30, 45, 46-7; having Arthur in the design 27,46, i83n97 Cock in the North 140 Coke, John 29-30 Complaynt of Scotlande 1 1 1 Cooper, Thomas see Lanquet Copland, William no Cornish, William 42-3 Coventry Leet Book 43, 141, 160 Craig, Alexander 151, 157 Culhwych and Olwen 5 1 , 60 Cursor Mundi 130

225 Index Davies, John 150, 154, 157, 161 Death and Life 132 Dee, John 30 Dekker, Thomas 149-53, 159, 168 Deloney, Thomas 114,115 Deschamps, Eustache 33 Diaz de Gamez, Gutierre 38 disguisings, Tudor 42-3 Disputation Between a Christian and a Jew 133 Drayton, Michael 121-2, 126 drummer boy, at Richmond 61 Dunbar, William 144, 160 Each Man Ought Himself to Know 132 Early Mumming- Play on the Nine Worthies 140, 160 Edward i: and Arthur's tomb at Glastonbury 7-8, 15, 54; and tournaments 39-40; other Arthurian associations 47, 55 Edward in: and chivalric orders 46; as a model hero 35; and relics 50, 55-6; and tournaments 40-1; other references 15,47-8, 169 Edward iv 28 Edward, the Black Prince 37, 38 Elizabeth i 28, 44, 46, 118-19, 120, 125 Emare 136, 156, 159 Erasmus, Desiderius 108 Erthe upon Erthe 142, 161 Espec, Walter 10 Fabyan, Robert 22 Feylde, Thomas 145, 159 Field of Cloth of Gold 44-5 Flores Historiarum 10, n, 27, 55 Florio, John 108-9 Flour e and the Leaf e 140 Friar Thomas de Hales 130, 156 Froissart, Jean 32, 37, 47 Galahad 14, 30, 86, 96-7; see also

Glastonbury Gareth 97-8, 108 Gawain: on a coat of arms 47; a figure of chivalry 69, 79-80, 81-2, 83, 87; a figure of courtesy 76, 84-5, 90, 158, 1 66; his grave 51-2, 56, 189 ni2; heir to Britain's throne 24; immoral 83; vengeful 65, 75, 83, 94, 99, 100-1; as a warrior 5, 69, 71, 83-4, 157, 193 n2i Geoffrey of Monmouth: Arthur in his Historia 4-5, 7, 65, I76n9-ii; Bedevere in 86; Gawain in 83; Kay in 85; nature and purpose of his Historia 6-7, 66; his veracity accepted 5, 10ii, 15, 19, 164-5; his veracity rejected 15-17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 164, 167; see also Higden, Ranulph; Gerald of Wales; Vergil, Polydore Gerald of Wales: accepts Arthur as historical 17-18; and Arthurian placenames 59; and Arthur's exhumation at Glastonbury 8-9, 18; and Geoffrey of Monmouth 17; identifies Glastonbury with Avalon 10 Gervase of Canterbury 10 Gervase of Tilbury 14,61 Gilbert of the Haye 34 Gildas 1 8, 19, 20 Glastonbury: Arthur as its patron 9-10; Arthur's burial there 7, 15, 19, 21, 22, 30, 54-5, 122; Arthur's exhumation there 7-8, 9, 19, 22, 23, 24, 54, 165, 178 n26; and Avalon 9, 10, 59; burial place of Galahad's heart 14, 30; stone pyramids at 9, 55, 178 n3o; see also Gerald of Wales, Henry of Huntingdon, relics Golagros and Gawain 8 1, 86, in, 1 68 Gosson, Stephen 116 Gower, John 129, 135-6, 158-9 Grafton, Richard 50 Gray, Sir Thomas 14, 54

226 Index Gruffyd, Elis 61 Guenevere: as Arthur's wife 69, 81, 112-13, 118; carried off by the Picts 25, 52; her monument at Meigle 52; other references 79-80; see also Lancelot Guy of Warwick 50-1, 63, no, 166 Hakluyt, Richard 30 Harding, John 11, 12-13, M> 165 Harington, Sir John 148, 158 Hawes, Stephen 34-5, 144-5, 160 Henry n 8 Henry vu 27-8, 46, 168 Henry vin: and Arthurian pageantry 44-5; and the British Hope 28, 61, 168 Henry of Huntingdon: and the British Hope 26; Historia Anglorum 3, 15; letter to Warinus 15-16, 26; other references 10, 15-16, 164 Henry the Minstrel 141-2, 157-8, 161 Hey wood, Thomas 120-1, 126 Higden, Ranulph 18-19, 164-5 Hoccleve, Thomas 138 Holinshed, Raphael 23-4, 167 Hughes, Thomas 116, 118-20, 127, 168 The Irish Knight 116 Iseult 59; see also relics, Tristan James i 117, 120 James iv, of Scotland 42 Jean de Bueil 35 Jeaste of Sir Gawain 1 1 1 John of Fordun 24-5 John of Salisbury 36 Johnson, Richard 111-13, I I 4> I26, 169 Jonson, Ben: Conversations with William Drummond 1 09, 153; Cynthia 's Revels 150; Every Man out of His Humour 149, 159; An Expostulacon with Iñigo Jones 154; The New Inn

154, 159; Oberon 152; The Speeches at Prince Henries Barriers 1 16, 117; The Vnder-Wood 155-6; other reference 1 68 Joseph of Arimathea 30, 120 Julian del Castillo 60 Justes of the Moneths of May and June 41-2 Kay: his boorish nature 76, 77, 80, 81, 84, 85; as a warrior 5, 85; in Welsh literature 60 King Arthur and King Cornwall 1 14, 115 King Arthur's Death 1 14, 1 15 Lady of the Lake 44, 108 La3amon: Arthur in 67-8; and the British Hope 26; his pro-Christianity 66-7; other references 64, 65-8, 86, 104 Lancelot: in art work 47; his birth 68; claimed as a figure in British history 14; his death 75; as the destroyer of the Round Table 65, 74-5, 86, 93, 98loo, 159; as an exemplar of chivalry and the Round Table 65, 89, 95, 117; as a famous warrior 85-6, 158; as a foil to others 112-13; an(i tne Holy Grail 96-7, 99; his love for Guenevere 64, 74-5, 85-6, 93, 98-100, 108, 158, 159, 1 66; see also relics Lancelot of the Laik 85,109 Laneham, Robert 44, 1 1 1 Lanquet, Thomas 23 Laon, canons of 26, 49-50, 59 Legend of King Arthur 114,115 Leland, John 28, 29, 30, 50, 51-2, 53, 59, 167 Lindsay, David 146-7, 156, 158 Lloyd, Richard 114, 148, 161, 167 Lovelich, Henry 64, 68, 86, 104 Lover's Mass 140, 156, 159

227 Index Lull, Ramon 34, 35 Lybeaus Desconus 76 Lydgate, John: Assembly of Gods 139; Ballade to King Henry vi 139, 160; Complaint of the Black Knight 1389, 159; Fall of Princes 104, 122, 139, 161; Merita Missae 138, 160; Res on and Sensually te 137, 158; That Now Is Hay Some-Tyme Was Grase 138; Troy Book 33, 138, 161 Major, John 25 Malory, Sir Thomas: Arthur in Morte d'Arthur 93-4, ioo-i; chivalry in 91-2, 94-9, 102; contemporary popularity of 105-6, in, 126, 169; contemporary views of 102-4; didactic role of 89, 91-2, 98-9, 101-2; grail quest in 96-7, 99; Lancelot in 99loo, 101; love in 97-8, 158, 201 nio; speaks in his own voice 101; Tristan in 87; see also Caxton Mandeville's Travels, metrical version 136, 160 Manning, Robert 11, 13, 14, 27, 165 Marriage of Sir Gawain 114, 115 Marston, John 149, 151, 158-9, 168 Massinger, Philip 154, 161 Merlin: adviser to Arthur 69, 93; and Arthur's conception 4, 11, 108; his miraculous birth 14,38,59,68; and place-names 58; his prophecies disbelieved 14, 38, 164; as a prophet 12, 27, 117, 1 60; his supernatural powers denied 19, 93, 160, 164; other reference 1 1 1 ; see also Stonehenge Middleton, Christopher 113-14, 126, 169 Middleton, Thomas 116-17,126,153, 1 60, 169 military handbooks 35-6 Milton, John 31, 126, 167 Minot, Laurence 131, 160

Mirror for Magistrates 122-3 Morte Arthur 74-5, 85-6, 104, no, 167 Morte Arthure: Arthur in 71-4, 88-9; message of 70-4, 89; other references 86, 104, 167, 193 n2i Moryson, Fynes 58, 59 Mount Etna 14, 6 1 Mum and the Sothsegger 136-7 Nashe, Thomas 109, 148, 159 Nennius 3, 22, 51, 60, 175 n2 Nino, Don Pero 37, 38 Of Arthur and Merlin 68-70, 84, 1045, no pageantry, associated with Arthur 278, 43-5, 169; see also Henry vni Paris, Matthew 21, 39 Parlement of the Thre Ages 131-2, 157, 158-61 Paston, John 42, 141, 158 Patience 132 Perceval 14, 30, 76, 87, 166 Pierre de Langtoft 11, 13, 14 place-names, early, associated with Arthur: Arthur's Chair (Cornwall) 59; Arthur's Chair (nr Edinburgh) 58; Arthur's O'on (nr Falkirk) 59; Arthur's Oven (Cornwall) 59; Arthur's Round Table (Denbighshire) 58; Caerleon 18, 59, 89, 122; Carmarthen 59; Carlisle 59; Dorchester 52; Dover 52, 56; Dumbarton 59; Grismond's Tower 59; Hryt Eselt 59; Kaerarthur (Brecon Beacons) 18, 49, 59; King Arthur's Hall 58; King Arthur's Round Table 58-9; Knucklas Castle 60; Licat Amr 51; Meigle 52; Men Merlin 58; Tintagel 59; Walwyn's Castle 51; Wedale 53; see also Arthur, and Mount Badon; Stonehenge

228 Index Powel, David 29, 167 Prose Lancelot 65 Prose Merlin (Middle English) 64, 68, 86, 104 Puttenham, George 109-10 Quy a la Dame de Paray s 131, 157 Ralph de Diceto 1 1 Ralph of Coggeshall 9 Rastell, John 22-3, 182 n8o, 82 relics, Arthurian: Arthur's crown 55; Arthur's seal 22-3, 30, 52-3; Craddock's mantle 52; crystal cross at Glastonbury 53; Image of the Virgin Mary 53; Iseult's robe 53; Lancelot's sword 52; lead cross from Arthur's grave 9, 23, 24, 30, 55; as a source of pecuniary gain 8, 52-3, 54, 56; see also Edward in, Guy of Warwick, round table Richard of Cirencester n, 14 Rishanger, William 14, 55 Robert of Gloucester: Metrical Chronicle I I , 12, 13, 27, 164; and Walter Espec 10 Robertus, of York 18 Robin Hood 50, 62-3, 156, 166 Robinson, Richard 30, 46 Roger of Hovedon 54 Rolland, John 147, 160, 167 Romance of Partenay 142, 158 round table, at Winchester 55-6 Rowley, William 116-17,126 The Scottish Alexander Buik 139, 157, 1 60 Selden, John 122 Seven Sages of Rome 132 Shakespeare, William 148-9, 151, 1596o, 1 68 Sidney, Sir Philip 109, 148 Sir Beues de Hamtoun 130-1, 156, 158

Sir Dégrevant 132-3,156,157 Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle 76, 84,86 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 77-9, 84-5, 86 Sir Lancelot du Lake 1 14-15 Sir Landeval 81 Sir Launfal 80- 1, 90, i l l Sir Perceval of Galles 76, 87 Sir Tristrem 87-8 Skelton, John 27, 143, 145, 158, 160 Spenser, Edmund 30-1, 109, 123-6, 127, 147-9, 157, 168, 2o6n77 Squire of Low Degree 143, 157, 159 Stanzaic Morte Arthur see Morte Arthur Stephen of Rouen 17 Stewart, William 25 Stonehenge: Arthur crowned there 14; brought from Ireland by Merlin 59, 1 60 Thersytes 146 Thompson, Potter 61 Thrush and the Nightingale 130, 157 tournaments: costumes used at 42, 45; known as 'round tables' 39-40, 165; other references 39-42, 45, 48, 165-6 Tourneur, Cyril 152, 161 Tristan: in art work 48, 57; as lover of Iseult 87-8, 97, 99, 108, 158-9, 166; as a model of chivalry 1 17; his sword

54 Udall, Nicholas 146 Upton, Nicholas 35-6 Uther ii, 23, 25, 93, 120, 122 Valentine and Orson 143-4 Vergil, Polydore 18-19, 20-2, 26, 28-9,

30 Vives, Juan Luis 108 Vulgate Lancelot 85

229 Index Vulgate Merlin 65, 68 Wace 26, 65, 66, 67 Walter of Coventry 54 Warner, William 14, 28 Wedding of Sir Gawain 81-2, 129 William of Malmesbury 3, 8-9, 10, 19, 21,29,51 William of Newburgh 16-17,26-7 William of Worcester 34, 35, 55, 59-60 Worthies (Nine): Arthur as one of 35,

38, 43, 47, 73, 157, 160, 163, 166-7, 169; Arthur thought to be historical asoné 1 6o; ridiculed i6i;usedto compliment other people 160-1; used to praise Arthur 105, 166; as a warning against various sins 104, 161, 166 Worthies (Three) 44 Wynkyn de Worde 1 10 Ywain 77, 86-7, 89 Ywain and Gawain 57, 76-7, 86-7