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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Day

Monstrous bodies in medieval literature

How does magic and/or the marvellous contribute to the romances’ concerns with ideals, identity, or gender?

In this essay I will examine the treatment of magic and marvel in the three romance texts Emaré, Mélusine, and the tale ‘The Healing of Sir Urry’ (found within Le Morte Darthur).

I will outline a scene from each text in which the actions of a female character leads to the creation of a monstrous body. In subsequent longer self-contained analyses of each of these examples, I will introduce historical evidence and scholarship that has informed my interpretation of the magical and marvellous in these narratives.

Giovanni Boccaccio’s, 'De claris mulieribus,’ 1374

Comparing the similarities and variations in the treatment of the monstrous body motif across these texts, I will argue that the motif acts to reflect several reoccurring moral anxieties. I will conclude that the monstrous body specifically appears in these texts, as a manifestation of the conflict that arises when an individual’s religious and gender ideals are pitted against each other.


Lines 535-540 of Emaré describe how the mother-in-law (the ‘old qwene’) writes an ‘evyll’ letter to her son the king, saying that since he had left to fight in war, his wife Emaré had given birth to a monstrous child with three heads.[1] Earlier, she had refused to attend their wedding, labelling Emaré a ‘fiend’ – a noun historically used to describe someone in league with the devil.[2],[3]By tricking her son into believing the child resembled a monster, the old queen is attempting to prove Emaré has an evil nature as a means to break up their marriage and have her exiled.

The story of Mélusine also suffers a monstrous transformation at the hands of a vengeful mother. Deemed the ‘guiltiest’ of her sisters for imprisoning their father, Mélusine’s mother Présine curses her to an eternal life with the added condition that every Saturday she would be transformed from the waist down into a serpent, with a tail as ‘grete & thykk as a barrell.’[4],[5]This punishment provides insight into the callous nature of the curse Présine has placed on her daughter, as without the possibility of a mortal death Mélusine would never have the chance to ascend to heaven – a cruel fate for a devout Christian woman.[6]

In a final example of the monstrous-body as a mothers preferred form of punishment, a masculine representation of this motif appears in the episode known as the Healing of Sir Urry.[7]This sub-episode of the wider Arthurian text tells the story of the travelling knight, who successfully slays a Spanish knight during a tournament - but not before gaining seven serious wounds himself.[8] The mother of the slain knight is a sorceress who curses Sir Urry in revenge – enchanting his wounds so they would always ‘fester and another tyme blede,’ unless he was able to find the best knight into the world and be treated by them.[9]While this particular incident does not see the cursed protagonist transformed with animal-like traits, the condition of having constantly festering and bleeding wounds meant Sir Urry’s body took on a grotesque and certainly monstrous appearance as a result of the curse.

While the example of a monstrous-looking human in each of these texts is invoked in different circumstances, they do share commonalities. In each, a mother’s vengeance has been the catalyst which transforms the body into a monster (albeit figuratively in Emaré) as a form of punishment. The language used to describe these monstrous bodies also share religious allegory, which can provide us with insight into how the motif could be representative of complex religious and gender ideals within medieval society.


A manticore, from the Rochester Bestiary

The protagonist Emaré initially faces a plethora of catastrophic situations, such as the incestuous advances of her father, being exiled at sea then being betrayed by her mother-in-law. This sequence of dire events make it a primary example of a Constance Narrative; a story which recites the trials and tribulations faced by an innocent woman, who eventually finds peace when reunited with family – this often being attributed to their continued devotion to God.[10]But other than providing an episode of undeserved suffering to contribute to this narrative format, no explicit rationale is given for why the old queen would claim that Emaré had given birth to a monstrous child and have them exiled.[11]

However, the nature of the lie told in her ‘evyll’ letter can provide us with some insight into the old queen’s potential motivations – which arguably reflect the complex religious and cultural treatment of women and mothers in medieval literature and society.

From fourteenth century devotional writings, we know that medieval society considered exemplary displays of motherhood and healthy offspring to be the result of God bestowing his good nature upon those devoted to him.[12] Therefore it would make sense for the old queen in this contemporaneous narrative to assume the opposite was also true - that a supposedly fiendish woman and her beastly offspring were personifications of the devil bestowing his sinful nature upon them. Emaré’s child, Segramowre, is actually described as being born a good-looking boy; however the old queen’s marvellous description of a monster-infant insinuates that chaos has erupted in the narrative.[13]

This lie, if believed, would justify having Emaré exiled at sea.[14]

The fictional monster-infant is also symbolic of the medieval anxieties shared among European Christian society, regarding the supposedly flawed morality of women. Through the lie she chooses to tell, the old queen infers that Christian ideals have been perverted by Segramowre (and by association, his mother Emaré). She claims the boy has been born with the three heads of a lion, a dragon, and a bear with foul-matted hair like the devil.[15]

While untrue, the description of the child provides a psychoanalytical metaphor for the old queen’s perception of her daughter-in-law. She believes the natural and social order of her son’s kingdom has been disrupted by the unexpected appearance of the Emaré; who washed ashore in a boat one day, with no one to vouch for her purity or noble lineage.[16]

These idealised traits stemmed from Christian tradition, in which the story of Mary’s virginal purity made her worthy for the role as the ‘hevyn qwene’ – and is evidenced gives birth to the infant Jesus. [17]

Mary’s worthiness as wife and then mother completes the supposed holy trinity of the father, the son and the holy spirit. In contrast, the old queen’s account of Emaré as a fiend is supposedly evidenced by her beastly offspring, whose three animal-heads grotesquely satirise the Christian trinity. In fact, during the middle-ages, deformities in childbirth were sadly often labelled as ‘monstrous’ and cited as proof of the corrupt nature of the mother.[18], [19]

While motherhood was associated with the revered virgin Mary and held in esteem, incongruously the reality of complications in childbirth and the functions of women’s bodies were regularly condemned.[20]The old queen’s decision to discredit the legitimacy of her grandchild and heir provides insight into how this kind of misogyny could be internalised by women and manifest; presenting us with a female character whose contradictory actions unwittingly reflect the complex religious and social discourse surrounding motherhood.

Recent scholarship has proposed that the overtly didactic motive of Emaré is ultimately detrimental to its quality, claiming that the story favours emphasis on God’s grace over the inclusion of any ‘moral complexity’ or ‘character development.’[21]However, this reading of the text provides ample evidence of how the monstrous body motif represents complex moral concerns toward motherhood and female sin.


Mélusine bathing in secret, woodcut from Dis ouentürlich buch bewiset wie von einer frauwen genantt Melusina ... ([Strassburg, ca 1477]) C.8.i.5.

A more tangible example of the monstrous body motif occurs in Mélusine, which also mirrors complex attitudes toward the idealised role of women. A close examination of the cause of her transformation demonstrates how the motif of Mélusine’s monstrous body is symbolic of a conflict of interest between maternal and patriarchal ideals in medieval society.

The story opens by reciting how Mélusine’s mother, the fairy Présine, is asked to marry Elinas the King of Scotland. She agrees on the condition that he promises not to be present at the birth of their children. However Elinas breaks this promise, which causes Présine to fell with their three daughters to live in isolation.[22]As adolescents, the sisters learn of their father’s betrayal and work together to have Elinas permanently imprisoned in a mountain.

Though Mélusine and her sisters were only inspired to do this out of vengeance for their mother whose privacy had been betrayed during childbirth, Présine is still in love with her husband and loyal to him. So outraged by their actions, Présine reacts by cursing each of her daughters. [23] Mélusine’s punishment is to be transformed into a half-serpent once a week for the rest of time.[24]

Présine’s response demonstrates that the role of the ideal medieval wife, regardless of mistreatment or estrangement from her husband, was expected to prioritise subservience and commitment to uxorial duties; above even the maternal devotion expected of mothers.

This is because submission in line with Christian teaching was seen as the only way to seek salvation for the corrupt nature women had supposedly inherited from Eve, the first woman and sinner on earth.[25] Powerful evidence of this societal mentality exists in a unique fourteenth century instructional book, Le Ménagier de Paris, written by an elderly husband to his new (and very young) wife. He outlines the practical duties she is expected to undertake as manager of the household but also lists in great detail her spiritual duties.[26]

This husband emphasises that the virtues of an ideal wife included ‘submission, obedience, and constant attention’ toward her husband, which he justifies as being set by the exemplary standards of the biblical wives Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel in the Old Testament.[27], [28]

This knowledge provides a unique lens through which to read the monstrous bodies invoked by the matriarchs in these texts. They use the image of the monstrous hybrid body to symbolise disapproval toward the actions of their daughter (and daughters-in-law) who appear to be interrupting the status quo. Emaré is seen as interruptive because she marries into royalty despite providing no proof of her ancestry, and Mélusine is viewed similarly for acting to undermine her father’s rulership by imprisoning him.

Not only is the monstrous body a punishment for the perceived immoral behaviour of these protagonists, it is a manifestation of the anxiety caused when female characters do not conform to gender expectations. By invoking a monstrous body, these queen mothers demonstrate their desire to prioritise the stability of the medieval patriarchy – even to the detriment of their maternal role.

This dilemma is reiterated further on in the cyclical events of Mélusine’s story. Présine curses Mélusine to an immortal life on earth, burdened by her weekly transformation into a hybrid creature. The curse also stipulates that reprieve could only occur if Mélusine was to marry a mortal man – on the condition that the man never saw her while in her monstrous form, otherwise her immortality would begin anew.[29]The strict conditions, so similar to Présine and Elinas’s own marriage pact, are breached when Mélusine’s husband Raymondin spies on his wife one Saturday. He witnesses her ‘within the bathe unto her nauell, in fourme of a woman […] and fro the nauel dounward in lyknes of a grete serpent […].’[30]

While this is an obvious breach of the vow Raymondin had made to his wife, initially their marriage and Mélusine’s mortality remains intact.

Raymondin only finds himself concerned about the possible moral and spiritual implications of Mélusine’s hybrid body when their son Geffray commits a hideous mass killing of monks, of which his own brother was included.[31]

Raymondin blames the boy’s senseless cruelty on having inherited an evil nature from his mother, explaining to the men in his company that Geffray’s actions were likely some kind of ‘fantosme or spyryt werke’ initiated by his wife.[32]Still in the company of his men, Raymondin laments that all of the children Mélusine has given birth to have some kind of deformity, which in medieval society could have been associated with a perversion of God’s will on earth.[33]

With everyone in the court now aware of her monstrous physical condition, Mélusine takes the permanent form of a hybrid serpent and flies away to live alone. Interestingly however, it is detailed that Mélusine would visit her two young sons to comfort them every night.[34]This indicates that unlike her own mother, Mélusine priorities caring for her children above her role as a wife. This endears the reader to sympathise with Mélusine, despite her monstrous body and abandonment of her husband.

It was vital that this view of the monstrous body as an indication of a corrupt woman or traitor to the patriarchy should be challenged in this text; as the story had been commissioned for the specific purpose of glorifying the Lusignan dynasty (rulers of the fourteenth century Poitou region in France), Mélusine’s supposed descendants.[35]


The medieval 'wound man' illustration appeared in medical texts from 1400 onwards

We find further proof that the monstrous body is representative of the gendered and contradictory nature of medieval morality in the story of Siry Urry. Examination of the religious metaphor used to describe (and later resolve) the cursed placed on Urry emphasizes how this narrative both conforms to and deviates from the gendered expectations of the medieval knights at the heart of the story.

When Sir Urry kills a Spanish knight during a tournament, the mother of the fallen man uses ‘suttyle craufftis’ to place a curse on the wounds Urry had sustained. She ensured that these injuries would remain unhealed, meaning his body could never ‘be hole’ again – unless he were to find the greatest knight known to man and have his wounds treated by them.[36]This description of Urry’s body as un-whole emphasises just how monstrous the nature of this particular curse is. For a knight, physical strength and a healthy body were essential to both their reputation and continued employment. Since the ninth century in Western Europe, it was believed that God had pre-destined all men to belong to one of ‘three orders’ in society – the praying, fighting or working classes. Anglo-Saxon King Alfred wrote about this structure and expressed that the submission of individuals to their respective class was essential to running a Christian kingdom – a notion that prevailed late into the middle-ages.[37],[38]

With this lack of opportunity for upward social mobility, it was possible that a character like Sir Urry might face destitution if disability prevented them from fighting. The cursed wounds on Urry’s body also symbolise a spiritual obstacle, preventing him from achieving glory through chivalrous deeds. Described as ‘an ethos in which martial, aristocratic and Christian elements were fused together,’ chivalry was the religious and masculine standard of behaviour expected of knights.[39] With these connotations, Urry’s monstrous physical condition can be interpreted as a potential barrier to his place in society and therefore to salvation – which, as a knight, crucially rested on being able to fulfil the purpose God had laid out for them on earth.[40]

This also informs the religious allegory in the scenes describing Sir Urry’s healing. Though many knights try to cure Urry, he is only healed when Sir Launcelot comes to pray with him by ‘devoutly knelyng’ at his side. Launcelot is then able to locate all the wounds and successfully treat them.[41] ‘All the kynges and knyghts’ who had tried to heal Urry before treat this dissolution of the curse as a divine marvel and give ‘thankynges […] unto God.’[42]This mirrors the bible story in which Jesus miraculously heals a man suffering leprosy, an historical disease known to inflict weeping sores like those inflicted on Sir Urry.[43],[44]Similar to a knight unable to perform the masculine duties expected of them, ‘lepers’ were often burdened both by physical pain and social stigma, unable to work and forced to live in segregation.[45]Once the man was healed, Jesus tells him to make an offering to God – a humble reaction emulated by Launcelot who also credits God for his healing abilities.

At the end of the tale, Urry’s return to full masculinity is emphasised when he celebrates by jousting and winning against thirty other knights.[46] This show of Urry’s prowess appears to condone the masculine acts of violent that caused him to be cursed in the first place; inferring that he will not endure any life-long consequences for killing the Spanish knight.

While the mothers in Emaré and Mélusine are motivated to invoke the monstrous body as a punishment on individuals who are behaving against expected feminine gender norms; the Spanish mother placed a curse on Urry who was behaving within expected masculine norms.

This indicates that the curse was intended to criticise the nature of those masculine norms; inferring that medieval chivalry was a contradictory and flawed gender ideal for men to strive toward. The method through which Urry’s monstrous body is healed also demonstrates the contradictory nature of the curse. It was stipulated that only the ‘beste knight of the worlde’ would be able to treat the wounds, which only Launcelot could. Yet following shortly after this episode, Launcelot’s affair with his Queen becomes public knowledge and this betrayal of King Arthur leads to civil war – hardly behaviour of the ‘beste knight of the worlde.'

[47]Despite the notion of chivalry intending to provide the ideal ethos for noble Christian men to adhere to, the text demonstrates that the behaviour and duties required of knighthood also provided ample opportunities for men to commit violence, sin and betrayal against one another.


At the core of the meaning I have attributed to the motifs found in Emaré, Mélusine and Sir Urry, the monstrous body has principally represented contradiction and conflict. More specifically, the body is made monstrous in circumstances which magnify the contradictory nature of the religious and gender ideals promoted in medieval society. Even the actions of the women invoking the monstrous body are contradictory by nature. In each text, a woman attempts to inflict punish an individual for betraying the status quo – only to result in being responsible for larger disruption herself.

  • In Emaré: By lying about the monstrous birth of her grandson, in an attempt to defend her son’s kingdom against the supposedly sinful Emaré; the old queen proves herself to be a sinful agent. By exiling her son’s heir, it is the old queen who destabilises her son’s kingdom, not Emaré.

  • In Mélusine: By cursing her children to resemble monsters as punishment for disrespecting their father, Présine attempts to set an example for prioritising uxorial duties over maternal ones. But this only proves that true monstrosity is an internal trait, not a physical condition – as Melusine’s hybrid body does not prevent her from performing her maternal duties and she refuses to prioritise her role as wife over motherhood.

  • In Sir Urry: By cursing Sir Urry’s body and temporarily preventing him from performing as a knight, the Spanish mother attempt to prove that no knight is truly chivalrous because of the violence they have commit. However, seeking a cure to this curse provides Urry with a life-quest that when achieved, reiterates the faith of all of King Arthur’s court in chivalric traditions.

By definition, magic and marvel defies logic; so it follows that motifs of these notions also adapt across the genre. The monstrous bodies in these texts function in distinctively unique ways to disrupt the conventional expectations of romance. The monstrous body is an adaptive meme which reflects the romances’ concerns around gender and religion - while also providing highly-stylised imagery through which to progress the narrative. [48]The danger, disruption and violence portended by the monstrous body in these stories prove that romance is an optimum format through which to examine religious and gendered symbolism of monstrous bodies in medieval literature.

Footnotes [1] “Of werkes she was unhende. Another lettur she made wyth evyll, And sayde the qwene had born a devyll;” Unknown, 14th cent. ‘Emaré,’ Laskaya, A and Salisbury, E. ed. The Middle English Breton Lays. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995. Line 534-36, p.168. [2] “Fiend, n. 1. An enemy; foe. 2. a. spec. The arch-enemy of mankind; the devil. More fully: fiend of hell, foul fiend, old fiend. fiend's limb = limb of Satan.” OED Online. Oxford: University Press, December 2021. [3] ‘The olde qwene spakke wordus unhende And sayde, “Sone, thy sys a fende […]’ Laskaya.1995.Lines 445-55, p.165. [4] ‘Melusina, the eldest and guiltiest, is turned into a serpent every Saturday.’ le Goff, J. Time, Work & Culture in the Middle Ages. Trans. Goldhammer, A. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1982. p. 208 [5] ‘[…] and fro the nauel dounward in lyknes of a grete serpent, the tayll as grete & thykk as a barrell.” d'Arras, J. (compiled 1382-1394 A.D. English trans about 1500) Melusine Part 1. In: Donald, A.K. ed. The Roman de Mélusine. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Early English Text Society by Boydell & Brewer 2002. Lines 4-5, p. 297 [6] “Présine and Mélusine, as well as the members of their families, were firm believers in Christianity and adherents of church ritual […]” Knapp, B.L. ‘Melusine,’ French Fairy Tales: A Jungian Approach, (State University of New York Press, 2003) Project MUSE, Accessed 12 January 2021 [7] Mallory, T. 15th cent. Sir Launcelot and Quene Gwenyvere [XIX]. In: Shepherd, S.H.A. ed Le Morte Darthur. New York and London: W&W Norton, 2004. Line 35, p.638–line 37, p.644 [8] “And by fortune thys Sir Urry slew Sir Alpheus, the erlys son of Spayne; but thys knight that was slayne had yevyn Sir Urry, or ever he were slayne, seven grete woundis […]” Ibid. Lines 5-7, p.639. [9] “And thys Sir Alpheus had a modir [whiche] was a grete sorseras; and she, […] wrought by her suttyle craufftis that Sir Urry shulde never be hole, but ever his woundis shulde one tyme fester and another tyme blede, so that he shulde never be hole untyll the beste knight of the worlde had searched hys woundis – and thus she made her avaunte […]’ Ibid. Lines 8-14, p.639. [10] “The lengthy prayer which introduces the narrative suggests that the poem's purpose is primarily religious or, at least, didactic. The tale denies the finality of evil, reminding us that the realm of magic is still accessible.” Laskaya. Introduction.1995. [11] “In the ‘Constance-Saga’, an innocent girl is accosted by her own father, is exiled or flees from him, travels incognito across the sea (or into a forest), and eventually marries a prince of another land in accordance with one of the basic Cinderella tropes. While her husband away, she is accused of a crime connected to the birth of her child: infanticide, birthing a monster, adultery, or birthing a animal. The Accuser is often a relative, in this case, the mother-in-law. The story frequently features an exchange of letters which harm the protagonist.” Ibid. [12] “Perhaps the most extreme expression of medieval ambivalence towards motherhood comes, somewhat ironically, from the pen of a woman. In the sixtieth chapter of her Revelation, Julian of Norwich writes: Thys feyer louely worde: Moder, it is so swete and so kynde in it selfe that it may not verely be seyde of none ne to none but of hym and to hym that is very mother of lyfe and of alle. To the properte of moderhede longyth kynd, loue, wysdom and knowyng, and it is god. Julian at once both idealises the maternal role and, by implication, denies any relation between the ideal and the actual. True motherhood is seen as the attribute not of those imperfect beings from whom it takes its name, but of one who is both Son and spiritual Father.” Fellows, J. Mothers in Medieval Romance. In: Women and Literature in Britain, 1150–1500, ed. Carol M. Meale, (Cambridge University Press; 1993) p.41 [13] “A fayr child borne and a godele,” Laskaya.1995. Line 503, p.167. [14]That men sholde the lady take, And lede her owt of towne, And putte her ynto the see, In that robe of ryche ble,” Laskaya. 1995. Line 585-90, p.169 [15] “Thre heddes hadde he there, A lyon, a dragon, and a beere: A fowl feltred fende.” Laskaya. 1995. Lines 535-540, p.168. [16] “A boot he fond by the brym, And a glysteryng thing theryn, Thereof they hadde ferly. They went forth on the sond To the boot, y untherstond, And fond theryn that lady. […] They askede her what was her name: She changed hyt ther anon, And sayde she hette Egaré.” Ibid. Lines 349-60, p.163 [17] Ibid. Line 7, p.153 [18] The birth to a monstrous child was often thought to be caused by the mother having had intercourse during menstruation, an act that only a morally corrupt woman would partake in - according to the church. “The monstrous child is meant to demonstrate the mother’s nature: her corrupt bloodlines and her corrupting menstruum.” McCracken, P. 2010. ‘Menstruation and Monstrous Birth,’ in The Curse of Eve, the Wound of the Hero: Blood, Gender, and Medieval Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p.64 [19] “Just as the monstrous was transgressive so too were those deformities or impairments that signaled one's transgressions for all to see.” Scarborough, C.L. 2015. ‘The Disabled and the Monstrous: Examples from Medieval Spain,’ Mediaevistik, vol. 28, ed. Lang P.A.G, p.37, Accessed 10 January 2021 [20] “Woman's grosser physical nature is evidenced in the more obvious manifestations of her sexuality — her ability to bear children, and the related function of menstruation. Notions of uncleanness were associated with both these functions,10 and it is no doubt partly on account of such notions that — despite what St Paul has to say as to woman's salvation through motherhood, or Ambrose as to her having been created to perpetuate the species — such a high value was placed in the Middle Ages upon virginity.” Fellows. 1993. p. 42 [21] “Moral complexity or confusion only exists in relation to an object: the elegant robe that Emaré wears. […] Characters are two dimensional, character development nearly non-existent.” Laskaya. ‘Introduction.’ 1995. [22] “Elinas, king of Albania (= Scotland), while hunting in the forest, encounters a remarkably beautiful woman singing with a marvellous voice, Presine. He declares his love and proposes marriage. She accepts on the condition that, if they have children, he not be present at their birth. His son by a former marriage incites Elinas to have a look at Presine […] Presine disappears with her three daughters and takes them to Avalon, the Lost Isle.” le Goff, J. 1982. p. 208 [23] “When the daughters are fifteen, they learn of their father’s betrayal, and, to punish him, imprison him inside a mountain. Presine, who still loves Elinas, is furious and punishes them.” le Goff, J. 1982. p. 208 [24] “In her youth Mélusine entombed her father in a mountain leaving her mother heartbroken. The deed displeased her mother and as punishment Mélusine was condemned to transform into a serpent from the waist down every Saturday.” Jenkins, J. 2015. ‘The Tale of Mélusine,’ European Studies Blog British Library, London. Accessed 11 January 2021 [25] “Thus the bearing of children was seen both as woman's punishment for Eve's transgression and as her means to salvation; woman was created in order to propagate the human race[…]” Fellows. 1993. p.42 [26] “The Ménagier de Paris (the Householder or Goodman of Paris, as we might say) wrote this book for the instruction of his young wife between 1392 and 1394. […] The plan of the book ‘in three sections, containing nineteen principal articles’, is most exhaustive.” Power, E. 1924. ‘Chapter V The Ménagier’s Wife’ in Medieval People. London: The Folio Society, 1999. pp.115-118. [27] “On the attitude of wife to husband the Ménagier’s ideas are much the same those of the rest of his age. They may be summed up as submission, obedience, and constant attention.” Ibid. p.123 [28] “One of the sections is headed, ‘That you should be loving to your husband (whether myself or another), by the example of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel.” Ibid. p.118 [29] “If a man marries her, she will become mortal (and die naturally, thus escaping her eternal punishment), but her torment will begin anew if her husband sees her in the form she assumes on Saturdays.” le Goff, J. 1982. p.209 [30] d'Arras, J. (1382-1394 A.D). Lines 1-4, p.297. [31]“[…] he toke fyre in the strawe all about the Chapter, where as were in thabbot, & al the monkes of the place, hys brother Froymond with them.” Ibid. Lines 23-26, p.309 [32] Ibid. Lines 21-22, p.311. [33] “Metaphorically what was considered ordered, or natural, stood in opposition to the monstrous. To transgress the natural boundaries of the body constituted a type of threat to Medieval notions of the body as both made in the image of God and as text in which one could read the maker's intentions.” Williams, D. 1999. Deformed Discourse. Liverpool University Press. pp.109-110 [34] Ibid. p.322. [35]Here the elements of myth and folklore are blended with epic to align the supernatural founder of the dynasty of Lusignan with the aspirations of late feudal society. By weaving the mythology of the supernatural from the folklore tradition into the lineage, myths and the powers therein can be ascribed to a family name, adding glamour and legitimacy.” Jenkins, J. 2015. [36] Mallory, T. 15th cent. Lines 8-13, p.639 [37] “In the case of the king, the resources and tools with which to rule are that he have his land fully manned; he must have praying men, fighting men and working men. You know also that without these tools no king may make his ability known. Another aspect of his resources is that he must have the means of support for his tools, the three classes of men.” King Alfred's Old English Version of Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiae, ed. Sedgefield W. J. Oxford, 1899 p.40. Trans. Keynes S. and Lapidge, M. Alfred the Great. Harmondsworth, 1983, p. 132. [38] “Numerous depictions of social division and the orders provide us with indisputable proof of the topicality of social division and stratification in the 15th and 16th centuries.” Vignjević, T. Depictions of the Three Orders and Estates around the Year 1500: Triplex Status Mundi. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2019. p.3 [39] “‘While recognising that a word so tonal and imprecise can never be pinned down within precise limits of meaning, we are now a great deal nearer to being able to suggest lines of definition that will do for working purposes […] chivalry may be described as an ethos in which martial, aristocratic and Christian elements were fused together. I say fused, partly because the compound seems to be something new and whole in its own right, partly because it is clearly so difficult to completely separate the elements of it.’ Keen, M. Chivalry. Yale University Press. 1984 p. 219 [40] “With the placement into a certain estate, every person was granted a solid position in the divine order. During this period, people were not perceived as individuals but more as members of a community that surpassed the individual. The placement into any particular estate therefore fundamentally defined one’s social role.” Vignjević, T. 2019. p.11 [41] Mallory, T. 15th cent. Lines 1-6, p.644. [42] Ibid. Lines 8-11, p.644. [43] Matthew, chapter 8, verses 1-4. New International Version. Accessed 25 January 2022. [44] “Leprosy had entered England by the 4th century and was a regular feature of life by 1050. Known today as Hansen's disease, in its extreme form it could cause loss of fingers and toes, gangrene, blindness, collapse of the nose, ulcerations, lesions and weakening of the skeletal frame.” Contributors. The Time of Leprosy: 11th Century to 14th Century. Historic England. Online. Accessed 25 January 2022. [45] “At least 320 religious houses and hospitals for the care of lepers (known as leper or 'lazar' houses) were established in England between the end of the 11th century […]. The houses were usually built on the edge of towns and cities […] Fear of contagion led to greater restriction and isolation, while abusive and corrupt practices increased.” Ibid. Accessed 25 January 2022. [46] Mallory, T. 15th cent. Line 19-26, p. 645 [47] Mallory, T. 15th cent. Line 35, p.639. [48] “Middle English prose romances respond to the genre by killing the confidence in proper inheritance that infuses earlier popular romance, lingering instead on delinquents and disconcerting traits.” Leitch, M. 2016. ‘of his ffader spak he no thing: Family Resemblance and Anxiety of Influence in the Prose Romances.’ In: Medieval Into Renaissance ed. by King, A and Woodcock, M. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. pp. 55-72


Primary sources

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