The incidents usually help drive the plot. Sir Eglamour of Artois. Harriet Hudson. When Cristabelle, the heroine of this romance, is cast adrift after her father learns that she has given birth to an illegitimate child, a griffin steals the baby, Degrebelle, after mother and child wash ashore. Later, the son wins his mother in combat, and her recognition of the griffin on his equipment prevents incest.
Sir Isumbras. The hero of this romance agrees to suffer for his sins during his youth, and he loses everything, including his three children, who are stolen by a lion, a leopard, and a unicorn. The children will reappear riding on the animals that stole them when they help their father fight Saracens.
When the empress is exiled after her husband falsely accuses her of adultery, her children are stolen by a lioness and an ape. Octavian, her son stolen by the lioness, will be reunited with his mother shortly thereafter, but Florent, the son stolen by the ape, is rescued by a knight and has a much longer path to his reconciliation. Armor as a Sign of Spiritual Purity A knight who needs either to prove himself in battle or to prove his redeemed state will enter a series of three battles over the course of three days.
Each day, his clothing will reflect the new state of his reputation and his soul. Sir Gowther. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury. In this romance, a half-demon attains sainthood due to his extreme penance and defense of Christianity. As Gowther, the main character, fights in three important battles, his armor changes from black, to red, to white, reflecting his redemptive process. Marijane Osborn.
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Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, Because the romance includes several instances of sexual violence, it is best reserved for advanced students. The trope requires the testing of courage and honor. A variant of this motif can be seen in the Buffet Game, where warriors exchange blows. In fairy tales, this trope can shift. Instead of a test of strength, a character must behead an animal or other figure who has helped him or her, thereby revealing their honor or gratitude, and often the character must be compelled to act correctly.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
medieval cautionary tales an anthology Manual
Tolkien and E. Revised by Norman Davis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, The Greene Knight. Thomas Hahn.
This smaller story about Gawain offers advanced students a text that mirrors many elements of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight while providing new motivations for several of the narrative motifs. The Turke and Sir Gawain.
Tales of the Fading Suns
This unusual tale offers upper level students a variant of the Beheading Game in the Buffet Game. Michael Morpurgo. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, This heavily illustrated version with illustrations by Michael Foreman offers younger readers a translation of the story with all of the classic elements included. It is recommended for children between ages This version, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard, retells the basic storyline while condensing some of the sexual connotations of the temptation and hunting scenes. Burton Raffel. Reprint, New York: Signet Classic, This motif sometimes occurs in narratives where the heroine has already been cast out of her homeland.
She often enters the world already physically constrained, such as by being cast out in a boat. For examples, see Maidens Cast Adrift. These mothers sometimes prepare a painful form of execution for the heroine and often suffer the horrible fate of being killed via the same method. After many years of separation, the family is reconciled, and the Emperor orders his mother burned in a hot cauldron, but she will slit her own throat instead. Often the bravest, most virtuous knights begin as kitchen boys, and many medieval romances contain a moment where a hero must sleep or work at the hearth, similar to most Cinderella narratives.
This debasement can take many forms, including sitting in the ashes, cleaning kitchens, and eating food that has passed through the mouths of dogs. The men and women of these narratives most closely resemble the heroines of Cinderella and Catskin Cinderella tales. Because many of the romances in this bibliography include this motif, I have only listed the most prominent examples here. Chaucer, Geoffrey. Larry D. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, When Walter tests Griselda and finds her an obedient wife, he takes his trials to a new extreme, forcing her to return home in a simple shift. Griselda resembles the heroine of Cinderella narratives with her evolution from a poor maiden to a queen and with her loss of riches only to have them restored at the end of the tale.
Havelok the Dane. Ronald B. Herzman, Graham Drake, and Eve Salisbury. He will begin working to help his family, and his list of manual skills resembles the list of chores that the heroines of Cinderella variants complete. Malory, Thomas. Gareth will serve as a kitchen hand and face ridicule from Sir Kay that resembles the taunts Cinderella endures from her stepsisters.
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The young man also endures the abuse of the Lady Lynet on the way to achieving recognition for his skill and bravery. Once Gowther vows to reform from his destructive, demonic ways, he must only eat food that has passed through the mouths of dogs. This extreme test of his humility returns him to a position on the floor with the animals, similar to that of Cinderella at the hearth. He must suffer humiliation in order to achieve a greater reward. Barber, Richard. Myths and Legends of the British Isles. It is better used with advanced students.
New York: The Modern Library, The Canterbury Tales. Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean. Reprint, London: Puffin Books, Green, Roger Lanceyln. This retelling of Arthurian stories is illustrated by Lotte Reiniger and is recommended for children ages Hodges, Margaret. New York: Holiday House, Dorsey Armstrong.
Encounters with the fairy world occur in many medieval romances. Chestre, Thomas. Sir Launfal. A destitute knight enters a forest and meets a fairy lover who will provide for him financially on the condition that he tells no one of their relationship. After this rule is broken, she saves him from execution. An overprotective king will not allow his daughter to marry until he finds a worthy heir.
His daughter enters the forest and becomes separated from anyone who could protect her. She will encounter a Fairy Knight, who rapes her, leading to the birth of the title character. This encounter in the woods also addresses the problem of the kingdom lacking a male heir. The maiden will end the narrative married to the knight, and her son will inherit the throne. Sir Orfeo. The translation makes the romance accessible to intermediate and advanced students. Fruit in winter is often a sign of a miracle that proves that God will provide for the virtuous, especially those who face hardship.
Sir Cleges. Destitute due to his extreme generosity, Cleges faces poverty and hardship. The cherries serve as the key to restoring a good man to a position where he can aid society. This short book with illustrations by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan offers a retelling of the Sir Cleges story that is recommended for children ages Peter Speed. New York: Italica Press, This fantastic collection of tales from the medieval world contains a translation of this romance. Although a popular medieval trope, the motif of the incestuous father is commonly associated with the Catskin Cinderella tradition today.
Many of the narratives containing this motif also use the calumniated queen trope where a new wife is persecuted by her mother-in-law. Texts with this motif often end in a reconciliation of multiple generations.
Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index
Gower, John. Russell A. In this frequently retold tale, the father, Antiochus rapes his daughter and boasts about their relationship via a riddle that her suitors have to solve.
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Apollonius, the hero, will realize the answer and flee for his life. His subsequent adventures and separation and eventual reunion with his own daughter raise important questions of father-daughter dynamics.