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'A Study of the Narrative Art of Four Metrical Romances* 







The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 

Vol. X, pp. 429-452, 585-609 



A. M., Butler College, 1905 


*A Study of the Narrative Art of Four Metrical Romances" 







The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 

Vol. X, pp. 429-452, 585-609 



For the student of medieval life and literature the dramatis / /^/ 
personcB of the romances — conventional as they are, and con- * 

ventional as the romancers' treatment of them often is — are / */ /T/'^ 
of no little interest. Professor Comfort's studies in the chansons 
de geste have shown the importance of a knowledge of the 
character types of the French epic for an appreciation of the 
ideals and culture of medieval France. In this paper an attempt 
will be made to investigate, on a somewhat broader plan," the 
four most important of the "matter of England" romances — 
King Horn, Havelok the Dane, Bevis of Eamtoun, and Guy of 

Character stands in a peculiar relation to the other narrative 
elements of the metrical romance. It is, of course, never em- 
phasized. Yet w^hen romance after romance has been read, and 
a host of incidents have been forgotten, characteristic personali- 
ties stand out, which, modern English literature proves, have 
been of abiding interest. The more distinguished names — 
Gawain, Kay, Lancelot, Tristram, Iseult — were the fruit of a 
romance-activity which stands in strong contrast with the more 
popular art of Horn and Ilavelok. Yet the heroes of this seem- 
ingly more primitive group typify, I think, ideals of permanent 
interest. Appearing, as they do, in situations and relations 

^"The Character Types in the Old French Chansons de Geste," 
Puh. Mod. Lang. Asso., vol. xxi, pp. 279 ff. ; "The Heroic Ideal in the 
French Epic," Quarterly Revietv, April, 1908. 

^any suggestions as to method have been obtained from the ; 

studies in narrative of Professor W. M. Hart, especially Ballad and 
Epic, Harvard Studies and Notes, vol. xi, Boston, 1907. 

^References are made to the following editions: King Horn, ed. 
by Joseph Hall, Oxford, 1901 ; Havelok the Dane, ed. by W. W. Skeat, 
Oxford, 1902; Bevis of Hamtown, ed. by E. Kolbing, E. E. Text Soc, Ex. 
Ser. xlvi, xlviii, Ixv, London, 1885-1894; Guy of Wa/rvyick, Auchinleck 
and Caius Mss., ed. by J. Zupitza, E.E.T.S. Bx, Ser. xlii, xlix, lix, 
London, 1883-1891. 



thoroughly stereotyped, they are perhaps more interesting for 
that reason, have more of the medieval flavor, gain in represen- 
tative quality. If they are deficient in subtlety, they are not 
deficient in a crude strength of character and will, perennially 

For these reasons it will be seen that characterization, to an 
unusual degree, perhaps, is bound up with plot on the one hand, 
and with the broad background of medieval life on the other, 
and it will be necessary, in discussing it, to trespass somewhat 
upon these other fields. 
The Group. 

The well-known tendency of the dramatis personce of medi- 
eval romance to fall into certain conventional relations is well 
illustrated by a group of characters which appears, with certain 
variations, in Horn, in Bevis, and in Guy. This group seems 
to belong naturally to stories of the exile-and-retum type, but 
it is not restricted to them, as it appears very clearly in the 
Guy. Nor is it essential to the exile-and-return type, since it 

does not appear, 

unless faintly, in 


The followin 

table shows the correspondence: 




The father 




The hero 




The old friend 




The young friend 




The foreign king 




The foreign king's 





The defamer 


Two nights 


The second lady 


King of Aum- [Oisel] 



These lists might be paralleled, in part, with another from 
Havelok, as well as from romances far removed from this group, 
but as the relations of the dramatis persona! are not so clearly 
the same in these other cases, I have not thought it worth 
while to insist on the parallel. However, the possibility of 
making the table which here appears is not without significance. 

Matter of England Romances 3 

and a very fundamental resemblance will, 1 think, appear on 
closer investigation/ 

In respect to the hero's father the resemblance is incom- 
plete. Guy of Warwich is not a story of the exile-and-retnrn 
type, and Guy's father plays a comparatively unimportant part 
in the story. In Horn and in Bevis the resemblance is clear. 
In both cases the father is of very' high rank, Murri being King 
of Suddenne and Guy the Earl of South Hampton, of noble 
character and approved prowess. Both are slain at the opening 
of the story, being overpowered by numbers, and their posses- 
sions, in both cases, are seized by those who have slain them — in 
the one case by the Saracens, and in the other by Devoun, 
Emperor of Almaine. Both leave young heirs who are helpless 
to protect their dominions. Birkabein, father of Havelok and 
King of Denmark, occupies an analogous position. He dies leav- 
ing his young heir in the power of a traitor, who seizes the 
kingdom. This situation is repeated in the same poem in the 
death of A]?elwold, leaving his daughter and the Kingdom of 
England in tlie care of a traitor. Thus in each of the three 
romances of the exile-and-return type there is a king who dies, 
leaving a young son in the hands of enemies. 

The children of these three fathers" too early dead experience 
a similar fortune. Horn, sent out in a boat to find a grave in 
the sea, luckily reaches the coast of Wevsternesse. Bevis, nar- 
rowly escaping death at the hands of his OAvn mother, is sold into 
slavery and borne across the seas to Armenia, Havelok, after 
heart-breaking sufferings, likewise crosses the sea in a boat to 
find a home at Grimsby. Guy had no such experiences in his 
earlier days, but gained manhood at his own home. It is his 

*Leo Jordan, Uber Boeve de Bcmstone, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fiir 
rom Phil, (xiv, Halle, 1908), pp. 41 f., gives a list of dramatis per- 
sonoe in French exile stories which is not quite the same as the one 
above. However, it is interesting as showing that practically this same 
group of characters appears in a number of chansons de f/este. xVraong 
the English romances, Generydes furnishes the list of dramatis personam 
most nearly parallel. 

'Not counting Al)elwold, the father of a heroine. 

4 Creeh 

later career which hrings him into the company of Horn and 
Bevis, as will appear in the discussion of the other typical 

Curiously enough, Horn, Bevis, and Guy each have for 
teacher a kind, brave man, who remains a steadfast friend. 
AJ?elbrus taught Horn the craft of wood and river, as well as 
harping, carving, and serving the cup (vv. 229 ff.). Later he 
assists in the love affair of Horn and Kymenhild; and finally 
he is rewarded with a kingdom (vv. 1507 f.). However, the 
resemblance between Guy and Bevis, here as elsewhere, is much 
stronger. Saber is the ^^meister ' of Bevis. After keeping Bevis 
concealed as long as he can, he is obliged to see him banished, 
but later sends his son to seek the lad ; and he himself accom- 
panies Bevis in some of his adventures. Almost the same thing 
happens in the case of Herhaud. 

Gij a forster fader hadde, 

)?atte him lerd & him radde 

Of wodes & riuer & o)?er game; 

Herhaud of Ardern was his name (vv. 169 ff.). 
Herhaud, too, is a fellow-soldier of his friend, and himself 
seeks Guy when lost. Herhaud is also tutor to Guy's son Eein- 
brun, seeks him through many lands when he is stolen away, 
and in general stands in the same relation to the son that he 
did to the father. Like Saber, Herhaud has a warlike son who 
plays a part in the romance. Like him, too, he is warned in 
dreams when the hero is in need of assistance. Grim has certain 
points of contact with these characters, particularly with Saber. 
Both Grim and Saber are instructed to slay their charges, and 
both represent that they have done so. Thus in each of these 
romances there is an old friend who guards the early years of 
the hero; in three cases he is the tutor; and in the fourth case 
he stands in the general relation of guide and instructor, teach- 
ing, however, not knightly accomplishments, but the meaner 
duties of labor. 

In three of the romances there is a young friend who is the 
faithful helper of his superior ; In the fourth romance^ Havdoh, 

Matter of England Romances 5 

there is only the semblance of an equivalent in the three sons 
of Grim. But A>»ulf in Horn, Terri in Bevis, and Tirri in 
Guy, occupy corresponding positions. In two of the cases the 
friend is presented with a bride and territory by the hero. Thus 
Eeynild is given to x4]7ulf, and the daughter of the King of 
Aumbeforce agree to become the wife of Terri when she learns 
that Bevis is beyond her reach. Guy also plays an important, 
though not similar, part in securing Oisel for Tirri. In the 
case of Terri and Bevis and of Tirri and Guy the friendship 
lasts through many battles in which the comrades fight side by 

The term foreign king refers in Horn and in Bevis to the 
father of the heroine. The Emperor of Constantinople, in Guy 
occupies a somewhat analogous position. Bevis and Horn are 
welcomed at the courts of the foreign kings. Each is granted 
honors, but later is the victim of a false friend (two in Bevis), 
who misrepresents the relations existing between the hero and 
the king's daughter. This, so far, is true of Guy at Constanti- 
nople also. But the Emperor of Constantinope is not misled, 
while both the King of Westernesse and the King of Armenia 
trust the informers, and as a consequence the hero in one case 
is banished {Bevis, w. 1229 ff.) and in the other is sent on a 
mission which is intended to result in his death {Guy, w. 3727 
ff.). Thus in the portions of the stories connected respectively 
with the foreign kings tlie three romances show strikingly similar 

The term defamer indicates sufficiently well the chaj-acteristio 
quality of one of the conventional enemies of the hero in these 
romances. Thus Fikenhild tells Ailmar that Horn 
"lij? in bure 

Vnder couerture 

By Eymenhild ]>i dojter" (w. 695ff.). 
Similarly, the false knights whom Bevis had preserved in battle 
said of Bevis to the Emperor that 

"}?e doubter he ha)? now for-lain" (v. 1209). 

6 Creek 

In G-uy it is the steward Morgadour who accuses the hero of 
having dishonored the Emperor's daughter. 
'^Into liis bour wi|? streng]? he ^ede 
& bi Yi douhter his wiile he dede" (vv. 3227 f. ). 
In these cases the resemblance between the villains lies chiefly 
in the identity of the charges which they make. 

It is to be noted that the hero in each case has a love affair 
with the king's daughter. Clarice, it is true, does not become 
the wife of Gruy; but the account of her relations with him 
has the characteristics of a romantic story, leading up almost 
to the marriage altar, when the hero recollects Felice in time. 
In the other cases the love results in marriage, and both Rymen- 
hild and Josian take the initiative in the wooing. In both cases 
separation occurs as the result of the treachery of defamers, 
but the later fortunes of the heroines show wide divergence. 
However, so far as the general relations go, we again find strong 

The last character of the group, the one I have called the 
second lady, is of slighter importance, and its presence here 
may be questioned. I mean by this Reynild in Horn and the 
King of Aumbeforce's daughter in Bevis, each of whom loves' 
the hero, but later becomes the wife of the hero's friend. Oisel, 
whose name I have placed in brackets in the table, can scarcely 
be included, except that it is through Guy's victories over Tirri's 
enemies that she becomes the wife of the hero's friend. 

Of course I do not mean to say that the reappearance of 
this group of characters is sufficient ground for thinking that 
any one of this group of romances is derived directly or indi- 
rectly from any other.' But it does seem to me that there was 
a common narrative fund which every one felt at liberty to 

"In King Horn it is not actually stated that Reynild loves Horn, 
though marriage is suggested to Horn by her father. However, in Horn 
et Rimel and Horn Ghilde, the love of Lemburc and Acula (correspond- 
ing to Reynild) is a prominent feature. 

^Nevertheless, cf. P. C. Hoyt, "the Home of the Beves Saga," 
P.M.L.A., 1902, pp. 237 ff., who thinks the resemblance between Bevis 
and Horn sufficient to indicate that the former is derived from the 

Matter of England Romances 7 

draw upon, which indeed was common property, since no one 
knew precisely whence it came. If we wish to know where it 
existed, it is not too vague to say that it existed in the stories 
already familiar, in the conventional incidents and characters 
which were found there, and which were being more and more 
conventionalized as they appeared again and again. Perhaps 
some elements were conventionalized out of existence; but one 
must think, from the state of the romantic literature which has 
been preserved, that the number of such was small. 

It has been noted, no doubt, that in discussing this group of 
dramatis personce nothing has actually been said about character 
Eather has it not been plot, and are not the dramatis personob 
(so viewed) merely the pegs to which the plot is tied? This 
question must be answered with a modified affirmative. What 
has been indicated thus far is that when a situation is used for 
a second or hundredth time in a romance, there is a strong tend- 
ency to place the new pegs about where the old ones were. 
Character, in the stricter sense, is then indicated only by the 
general relations of dramatis persons to the plot. This, of 
course, does not sum up character ; and a study of the characters 
as such will, I believe, add some confirming evidence of the 
existence of this recurring group. 
Stocl: dramatis personce. 

Before going on to discuss characters as distinguished from 
dramatis personce, it is worth pointing out that there are in the 
romances, as indeed in fiction of a later date, stock figures who 
are of little or no value as characters, but who do mean some- 
thing to the plot. Thus in Horn and in Bevis there is the con-, 
ventional porter. The only function which he serves is to delay 
the action by supplying occasion for an altercation at the 
entrance to the castle. Thus in Horn : 

He com to J?e gateward, 

)7at him answerede hard. 

Horn bad undo softe, 

Mani tyme and ofte. 

Ne mi^te he awynne 

8 Creeh 

]?at he come )?eriniie. 

Horn gan to )?e ^ate tume 

And )?at wiket vnspurne. 

pe boye hit scholde abngge; 

Horn )?reu him oner Ipe brigge, 

)?at his ribbes him to brake;' 

And su]?J?e com in atte gate" (vv. 1067 ff.) 
In Bevis the account is still more detailed. The hero, seven 
years of age, after getting the better of the porter in a word 
encounter, cleaves his head (vv. 394 ff.) The porter, it seems, 
nearly always stands at the gate to refuse admittance and to 
suffer for his refusal.' 

The suggestion sometimes made that the minstrel is taking 
revenge for rebuffs suffered by his class is perhaps not altogether 
without foundation. The aim seems to be to make the porter 
a ridiculous figure. The humorous intention is sometimes 
marked." Perhaps the porter in Macbeth is distantly akin to 
the porter of romance. 

More intimately connected with the plot, and more impor- 
tant for the revelation of character in others, is the maid of the 
heroine. The fact that she does not appear in Horn, Haveloh^ 
or Bevis is a slight indication of the fact that they are not true 
*In Horn Childe the porter's shoulder bone was broken (HCh vv. 
958 ff.). 

"In John de Reeue (Percy Folio, vol. II), vv. 719 ff., is a similar 
dispute between hero and porter, with the result that John 
"hitt the porter vpon the crowne, 
With that stroke hee ffel downe, 
fforsooth as I you tell." 
In Sir Cleges the hero gains admission to the king by agreeing to give 
the porter one-third of the gift he shall receive, and asks that the gift 
be twelve strokes, of which the porter gets his share in due tim« (vv. 
247 ff.). Cf. Kolbing's note to Bevis, A 1. 419. Also see Hall's note 
to Horn, vv. 1067, 8; Tristram, vv. 619 ff. ; Gautier, Chivalry, Eng. 
transl. by Henry Frith, London, 1891, pp. 369 ff.; C. Boje, TJher den 
Altfranzosischen Roman von Beuve de Hamtone, Beihefte zur Zeif- 
schrifht filr rom. Phil., xix, Halle, 1909, pp. 71 f. The porter some- 
times plays a different part; cf. Gawayn and the Grene Knyght, vv. 
91 ff., and Floris and Blancheflor, vv. 749 ff. 
"As in Sir Cleges; cf. note preceding. 

Matter of England Romances 9 

romances of cliivalry. Eymenhild may have sent a maid for 
AJ?elbrus to summon him for tlie fii*st interview, but. if so, there 
is no indication of the fact. When Josian desires to oouimuni- 
cate with Bovis, she sends a man. The absence of the romantic 
element in Haveloh, of course, almost precludes the possibility 
of such a character appearing. In Guy there is a hint of this 
personage. Guy has just made a declaration to Felice, and 
swoons from the violence of his emotions. Felice bids a maid 
to lift him, which she does, weeping. 

''Bi god of heuen,'* sche seyd, 

"& ich wer as feir a mayd, 

& as riche king's doubter were 

As ani in J?is warld here, 

& he of mi lone vnder-nome were 

As he is of )?ine in strong manere, 

& he wald me so o lou jerne. 

Me )?enke y no myjt it him noujt werne" (vv. 609 ff.)." 
But Felice rebukes her for commiserating Guy. One need only 
glance at the French Horfi et BimeV' to note a marked contrast 
with the maid of Guy. Here Herselote is the natural messenger 
of Rimel ; she tells in the bower of what is going on in the hall ; 
she receives her mistress's confidences, comforts her when dis- 
tressed, praises the lover, and is on hand to assist in emergen- 
cies. This is the conventional part of the maid. It is to be 
found repeatedly. Lnnete plays the part in Chretien's Jvain 
In William, of Palerne, Alexandrine is not only a confidante ; 
she plays almost the part of a fairy in bringing William and 
Melior together, having power to cause dreams. Iseult's maid 
is perhaps the most distinguished of all, performing more than 
one important service for her mistress." Playing a part of far 

^Vf. Generydea. vv. 4630 ff., where the maid takes the ])art of 
the knight against the reproaches of her mistress. 

^'Edited by Brede and St<Migel, Dn/i Anglo-Nornionnische Lied vom 
Wackern Ritter Horn, Ausgaben und Abhandlungen, vol. viii. 

"From these instances it is evident that the maid plays in medieval 
romantic literature the same part which maid or attendant so often 
plays in the later dramatic literature. 

10 Creelc 

greater importance than the porter, the maid of romance has 
a more developed personality. She is faithful as a matter of 
course, loyal to lover as well as to mistress, resourceful, self- 
sacrificing, brave. But she belongs essentially to the chivalrous 
romance; she has no place in the very different type of romance 
to which the exile-and -return group belongs. 

If the maid is a kind of good fairy in the romances, the 
steward is almost always a malevolent agency. Unlike the maid, 
he is well represented in our group. It is he frequently who 
envies the hero because of the favor bestowed upon him by the 
king, or because of his superior knightly qualities. 

A steward was wi]? King Ermin 

)?at hadde tijt to sle J^at swin; 

To Beues a bar gret envie 

For )?at he hadde ]?e meistrie {Bevis, vv. 837 ff.). 
The steward of the King of England also hates the hero, Bevis 
visits the king: 

And alle }?e barouns, ]?at )?er were. 

On Beues made glade chere, 

Boute )?e steward of )?e halle 

He was )?e worste frend of alle (vv. 4303 ff.). 
He later tries to slay Bevis and, like the steward of Armenia, 
pays for his treachery with his life. In Guy there are several 
stewards. The most typical, Morgadour, did his best to dis- 
credit Guy with the Emperor. 

Traytour he was, and full of envy (v. 2962). 
He, too, lost his life at the hands of the object of his envy. The 
steward of Duke Otous (vv. 4753 ff.) is slain by Guy while try- 
ing to lead away the wounded Tirri. After the death of Otous, 
his kinsman Berard becomes the Emperor's steward (v. 6497) ; 
persecutes Guy's friend Tirri; shows his lack of honor by wear- 
ing two coats of mail in his combat with Guy (st. 187) and by 
trying to rid himself of his dangerous antagonist by casting him 
in the sea with the bed on which he is sleeping: but finally he, 
too, succumbs to the hero's valor (sts. 208 ff.). Again, the 
steward of Earl Florentin attacks Guy while a guest in his 

J ^ or 

f MWIVEi^f ' . V . 

Matter of England Romances 11 

master's castle, and his head is cleaved with an axe (vv. 6899 ff.). 
Thus in the romances of Bevis and Guy alone the appearance 
again and again of a treacherous, envious steward is striking. 
He appears ver}^ frequently elsewhere. The chief villian of 
Generydes, Amalok, is the steward of Auferius, King of India. 
He adds adultery with the Queen to treason against his lord. 
In Sir Cleges the steward commits the same offense and suffers 
the same punishment as did the porter." The envious character 
of "Klay the seneschal," while not quite so offensive as that of 
most stewards, is perhaps due to the association of his position. "" 
The typical steward, however, is treacherous as well as envious ;" 
not a coward (for cowards are rare in medieval romance), yet 
with the manners, the sneakingness, so often associated with 

Other lay figures are palmer, merchant, beggar. The palmer 
or beggar is frequently the hero disguised. But he may be 
merely the bearer of news. A palmer tells Guy of the war 
between the Emperor of Almaine and Duke Segyn (w. 1803 ff.). 
It is from a palmer that Horn hears of the wedding preparations 
when he lands in Westernesse with his Irish force (vv. 1027 ff.). 
No doubt the palmer was a natural bearer of news. Thus the 
false news which Bevis, disguised as a palmer, tells Yvor, is 
instantly accepted and acted upon. Bevis asks a palmer where 

"Referred to above, p. 436. 

*For Kay at his worst, of. the French romance Ider, in which he 
is guilty of the use of poison. See, too, G. Paris, in Hist. Litt.. XXXI, 
p. 160, apropos of Kay in the Esoanor of Grirard's d' Amiens: "11 parait 
avoir pris surtout le type du senechal dans les romans de Chretien ofi, 
oomme iei, sa raauvaise langue est le plus grave de ses defauts." 

"Cf Arthur and Merlin, vv. 80 ff. ; Squire of Loio Degree, vv. 283 
fF., etc.: Sir Triamore, w. 61 ff., etc.; Merline, vv, 47 ff. ; Amis and 
Amiloun, vv. 205 ff. : Sir Degreva/nt, w. 1633 ff. ; also "ffalse steioard" 
in "Sir Aldingar" (Child, No. 59). 

"Of course there are good stewards now and then, as in the case 
with Guy's father. However, the association of steward with self-seek- 
ing and an ugly disposition seems widespread. In this connection it is 
interesting to compare No. LXII of the Fables of Marie de France (ed. 
by Warnke, Bibliotheca Normannica, vol. VT), "De Aquila et Accipitre 
et Columbis", 

12 Creeh 

to find King Yvor and his Queen, Josian, when he approaches 
Mombrannt (w, 2049 ff.).''^ Beggars are necessary to show 
the hospitality of lord or lady and to furnish an opportunity 
for the disguised hero to slip in with the crowd. The number 
thirteen, so frequently mentioned, springs from the custom of 
inviting thirteen beggars to appear at wedding and other feasts 
in honor of Christ and the Apostles. Thus Guy is one of thir- 
teen beggars fed by Felice when he finally returns home after 
his long pilgrimage (sts. 378 if.). In Ponthiis and Sidone the 
mother of Ponthus is discovered by him among the thirteen 
beggars at the feast celebrating the regaining of his kingdom 
(pp. 119 f.). In Horn et Rimel it is a beggar instead of a 
palmer whom Horn meets on his return to his beloved. Mer- 
chants, too, may be messengers. Guy learns from Greek mer- 
chants of the war between the Emperor of Constantinople and 
the Sultan (w. 2801 ff.). Merchants are also used for taking 
away children. Bevis is sold to merchants (vv. 505 ff.), and 
Reinbrun is stolen by merchants who pass through the country 
(Guy, C. vv. 8680 ff.)." A large number of subordinate drama- 
tis personce of various sorts is naturally characteristic of the 
roman d'aventure, in which the social life is more complicated 
than in the chanson de geste.^ 
Typical Characters and Medieval Life. 

"For cases in French medieval narrative where there is an ex- 
change of clothing with a palmer; cf. B6je, p. 70. 

^*Cf. Prologue to "Man of Law's Tale" Ccmt. Tales, B, vv. 127 
ff.), where merchants are apostrophized: 

Ye seken lond and see for yowre \vynnynges : 

As wise folk ye knowen al thestaat 

Of regnes; ye been fadres of tidynges 

And tales, bothe of pees and of debaat. 

I were right now of tales desolaat, 

Nere that a marchant — goon is many a yeere — 

Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal heere. 

^Two giants, brothers, whom the hero meets at different times and 
slays, seem a convention; cf. in Bevis Grander and his brother (vv. 
1721 ff.; 1859 ff.) ; Eglamore, vv. 300 ff., 513 ff. ; Daurel {Hist. Litt., 
XXX, p. 137). 

Matter of England Romances 13 

Looking again at this list of dramatis persons, not this time 
as elements of the story, but as figures typical of medieval life, 
one sees at least four stand out as significant: (1) the king; 
(2) the knight; (3) the lady; (4) the vassal. These are not 
entirely exclusive of each other, as the knight may be king, 
and the vassal is, of course, usually a knight. However, the 
characteristic king is usually the father of the hero, or some 
lord under whom the hero takes service; the hero is nearly 
always an ideal knight; the hero's beloved is invariably repre- 
sented as an ideal lady ; and it is usually in a friend of the hero 
that faithful service to one's lord is best exemplified. So, for 
practical purposes, there is little or no confusion, and some light 
may be thrown, too, on the phase or phases of society for which 
the romances were produced, and also perhaps on the society in 
which they have enacted their subsequent history. 

Ffom the tremendous host of kings in medieval literature 
two great figures stand out — 'Charlemagne and Arthur — the 
one, at his best, the king of the chanson de geste, and the other, 
at his best, the king of chivalric romance; the one leading 
his hosts against the enemies of his country and fighting at their 
head; the other, for the most part at least, loosely controlling a 
band of knights errant, who are incessantly engaged in adven- 
tures for the sake of honor or for the sake of the ^^fair lady." 
In the so-called romance of Germanic origin, there is, of course, 
nothing to approach the splendor of either of these figures. 
But in these romances the kings are certainly more nearly 
related to Charlemagne than to Arthur. They are kings of 
national war. Murri, father of Horn, was such a man, although 
the primitive conditions which seem to underlie the story would 
make him little more than a tribal chief. With two knights he 
awaits the onset of the Saracens, and loses his life defending his 
territories. Nothing is said in the way of characterization, save 
that he was "gode king" (v. 33), as were also Ailmar of Wester- 
nesse (v. 219) and purston of Ireland (v. 782)."* A)?elwold, 
the father of Goldborough, was also a bold warrior. 

^This suggests the "se waes god cyning" of Beowulf, although 
the term "good" is perhaps even more conventional in the romances. 

14 Greek 

He was )?e beste kniht at nede 

)?at euere mihte riden on stede, 

Or wepne wagge, or folc vt lede; 

Of kniht ne hauede he neuere drede, 

)?at he ne sprong forth so sparke of glede, 

And lete him knawe of hise hand-dede (vv. 87 ff.). 
In Horn Childe King Ha]7eolf is a bold warrior, fighting against 
the enemies of his country — the Danes and the Irish. In Guy 
A]?elstaii is represented as leading the English forces in their 
struggle with the Danes. In other words, the kings in this 
group of romances are fighters, usually defending their country 
against invaders. The king who, like Arthur and Alexander, 
conquers the world, belongs to a diiferent type of romance. 

Of exceptional interest is the account of King Aj?elwold in 
Havelok, because there is nothing precisely comparable to it 
elsewhere in the romances. Here is a king who is not merely 
a leader of warriors, but a lawgiver and a strong executive. 
We certainly have a picture of an ideal king as seen by the eyes 
of the middle and lower classes, by those who desired, not glory, 
but comfort and peace.'''' He loved God and holy church; he 
hated robbers and hanged outlaws. Chapmen might go through 
England with their wares fearlessly. 

J?anne was Engelond at ayse (v. 59). 
Moreover, he was friendly to the fatherless (vv. 75 if.) and 

Hauede he neure so god brede, 

Ne on his bord non so god shrede, 

)?at he ne wolde J?orwith fede 

Poure J?at on fote yede" (w. 98 ff.). 

^The very enumeration of the classes who loved him is suggestive. 
It was a king bi are dawes, 
J>at in his time were gode lawes 
He dede maken, an ful wel holden; 
Hym louede yung, him louede holde, 
Erl and barun, dreng and kayn, 
Knict, bondeman, and swain, 
Wydues, maydnes, prestes and elerkes, 
And al for hise gode werkes (vv. 27 ff. ) 

Matter of England Romances 15 

Here, surely, if anywhere, we get the ideal king of merchant and 

The heroes are more likely to be individualized than other 
characters. Nevertheless, the greater part of their traits are 
thoroughly typical. The ideal knight of this group is one of 
great personal beauty and strength, who hates infidels, enjoys 
battle, is a faithful lover of one woman. He is often rude, 
sometimes cruel, always pure. He stands opposed to the chival- 
rous, gentle, often immoral knight typified in Lancelot. 

In these romances little is said, for the most part, regarding 

the personal appearance of the dramatis personce. This is not 

-'^W. W. Comfort, "The Character Types in the old French Chan- 
sons de Geste", P.M.L.A., XXI, pp. 279 ff., distinguishes three treat- 
ments of the king in the chanson de geste . He is represented ( 1 ) as 
grandiose and epic, less only than God; (2) as weak, old, sometimes 
cowardly ; ( 3 ) as a mere political necessity — this last under the in- 
fluence of the Breton cycle where the king is only "a fixed point of 
support, on which the leading characters in the story are made to lean" 
The noble king of Havelok seems English. However, the weakness of 
the kings in Horn, Bevis and Guy seems to relate them to class ( 2 ) . 
The Emperor of Almaine (in Guy) is clearly of this class; his capture 
while on the chase is an incident connecting him with stories of Charle- 

It may be worth while to note here that both Bevis and Guy had 
fathers who were good stewards. They furnish the nearest parallels to 
the account of A>elwold. Bevis's father Guy "kept well Englond in 
his days". 

He set peas and stabelud the laws, 

J?at no man was so hardye, 

To do another velanye (M. MS. vv. 43 ff . ; passage 
missing from one set of Bevis MSS.). 
In Guy, Syward was a steward of similar virtues. 

pei a man bar an hundred pounde, 

Opon him, of gold y-grounde 

J?er nas man in al J)is londe 

))at durst him do schame no schonde 

J)at bireft him wor]? of a slo, 

So gode pais Jjer was J>o (vv. 137 ff ). 
In AJ>elwold's time one could carry red gold upon his back and find 
none to trouble him ( Havelok, vv. 45 fif . ) . 

If one thinks of Chretien's romances, one recognizes how incongru- 
ous similar lines would appear if found in them. The same is equally 
true of nearly all of the super-refined chivalric romances. Compare, 
too, the Alexander romances. Generosity, not justice, is the chief 
virtue of the chivalric king. 

16 Creeh 

so likely to be the case with the hero. Thus of Horn the author 
says at the beginning: 

Fairer ne miste none beo born 

'Ne no rein vpon birine, 

Ne sunne vpon bischine: 

Fairer nis non )?an he was. 

He was bri^t so ]>e glas, 

He was whit so )?e flur. 

Rose red was his colur. 

In none kinge riche 

Nas non his iliche (vy. 10 ff.)."^ 
His physical beauty continues to receive attention. He is the 
"faireste" (v. 173) ; Ailmar admires his "fairnesse" (v. 213) ; 
Aj7ulf says ^Tie is fairere by one rib )?an eny man J?at libbe'' 
(w. 315 ff.) ; when he visits Rymenhild the bower is lighted ^'of 
his feire si^te" (v. 385) f Berild has never seen so fair a knight 
come to Ireland (v. 778) ; King purston speaks of his "fairhede" 
(v. 798) ; and at the close the author says: 

Her endej? ]?e tale of horn, 

)?at fair was & no^t vnorn (vv. 1525 f.). 
Havelok likewise is very beautiful (v. 2133) and well-shaped 
(v. 1647). Bevis was a ^^feire child," and King Ermin said of 

"Be Mahoun, )?at sit an hij, 

A fairer child neuer i ne s'i^, 

Nei)?er a lenglpe ne on brade, 

Ke non, so faire limes hadde!" (vv. 535 ff.). 
In Guy, too, not much is said of the personal appearance of the 
hero, not nearly so much as in Horn. There is nothing espe- 
cially distinctive about the traces of description one finds, as 
they are the commonplaces. 

"For numerous parallels, see Hall's notes. Medieval romancers 
were inclined to insist, as here, that their heroes were the most beauti- 
ful in the world: cf. Willia-m of Palerne vv. 4437 f. 

*The shining face is common, but more frequently belongs to 
women. In Chretien's Cliges the hero and Fenice are so beautiful that 
they make the palace shine (vv. 2755 ff.) 

Matter of England Romances 17 

The hero's strength and valor are of great prominence in all 
romances, but there are certain variations of greater interest 
than are found in descriptions of personal appearance. In 
Horn the hero's strength is frequently the object of direct praise 
from the dramatis personce. The Admirad says to him, "J?u art 
gret & strong" (v. 93), and adds that if he lived, in time he 
"scholde slen us alle'^ (v. 100) ; Ailmar says the strength of his 
hand shall become famous (w. 215 if.). The author of Havclok 
also takes great delight in his hero's physical prowess, and 
speaks directly to the audience: 

For Jeanne he weren alle samen 

At Lincolne, at )?e gamen. 

And )?e erles men woren alle )?ore. 

Was Hauelok bi )?e shuldren more 

J?an J?e meste )?at ]?er kam: 

In armes him noman ne nam 

)?at he doune son ne caste; 

Hauelok stod ouer hem als a mast. 

Als he was heie, so he was strong. 

He was holpe stark and long; 

In Engelond was non hise per 

Of streng]?e ]?at euere kam him nere (w. 979 if.). 

Again and again this brute strength is brought out. Havel ok 
eats more than Grim and his five children (w. 793 f.) ; at 
Lincoln he upsets "sixtene laddes god.e" and carries 'Vel a cart 
lode" of fish; his strength is admired by Ubbe, who thinks he 
should be a knight (v. 1650) ; he slays three men with one blow 
of a "dore-tre" (v. 1806) ; he puts the stone at the first throw 
so far that all competitors depart (vv. 1052 if.). There is on 
the part of the author a certain simplicity of delight in the 
overwhelming strength of his hero that is almost unique. In 
the rapid succession of incidents in Bevis there is little time for 
commenting on the hero. However, there is a word at the 
beginning of his fighting career. 


18 Creek 

Be ]?at he was fiftene ^er olde, 

Eni^t ne swain ]?ar nas so bolde, 

^pQ.i him dorste arenas ride 

Ne wi)? wrej?]?e him abide (vv. 581 ff.). 
In Guy we have gone so far toward the romance of chivalry 
that the emphasis, so far as direct description goes, is on some- 
thing else than strength, which is left to be inferred from many 
a deed of valor." 

On the other hand, the mental character and accomplish- 
ments of the hero are emphasized in Guy, especially on the 
knightly side, and in Haveloh on the homely side, while in Bevis 
and in Horn they are neglected. Indeed, scarcely anything is 
said of Horn's mental or moral characteristics. He was "of wit 
)>e beste" (v. 174), "wel kene" (v. 91). His teachableness and 
good nature are indicated. 

Horn in his herte la^te 

Al )?at he him ta^te. 

In \>e cnrt & nte 

& eUes al abnte 

Luuede men horn child (w. 243 ff.). 
In Haveloh again there is the nniqne quality which was noted 
in the account of the physical characteristics, but even more 
marked. The author probably had in mind that Havelok would 
make a good king like AJ?elwold, but he has made him seem more 
like a strong, rather slow-witted, but happy peasant. His life 
at Winchester, which is described most fully, mak:es him seem 
to be a powerful, mild-tempered boy. 

Of alle men was he mest meke, 

Lauhwinde ay, and blij?e of speke; 

Euere he was glad and bli)?e, 

His sorwe he couJ?e ful wel mij^e. 

It ne was non so litel knaue, . . . 

^It is worth noticing here that something is said in regard to 
Guy's dress apart from armour; when he first calls on Felice he was 
arrayed in a "silken kirtell" that was so "well setting" that there 
was no need to amend it (vv. 211 fF.). 

Matter of England Romances 19 

For to leyken, ne forto plawe, 

J?at he ne wolde with him pleye : 

]?e children that yeden in )?e weie 

Of him he deden al her wille, 

And with him leykeden here fille (vv. 945 ff.). ^\^ 

N^ot only is his kindness shown by his playing with the chil- j 

dren; it is shown in the care he later takes of his foster / 

brothers and sisters and in the mercy offered to Godrich. He / 
is as observant of law as Aj^elwold. Only after due trial may 
Godard and Godrich be executed. 

Thus does the author intend for us to see him — strong, 
cheerful, merciful, fearless, law-abiding. It may be questioned ' 
whether he intended that Havelok should so appear, but he 
surely was lacking in initiative.^ It is Goldborough who arouses , ^y 
in him the ambition, or at least stirs it to the acting point, -? 

to regain his kingdom. It is Ubbe who collects the friends of / 
Havelok in Denmark."^ Havelok would have been a happy peas- 
ant. He is a true member of the lowly classes — strong in body 
and in mind, whole-hearted, loving peace better than war, but 
fearless when called upon to fight, rather than a fiery king, full 
of aggressive ambition, or a luxurious, generous monarch such 
as the nobility admired. 

But Guy is a hero of chivalry — not of the Lancelot type, nor 
of the Galahad type, although approaching the latter in the 
religious devotion of his later years. He stands somewhere be- 
tween Horn and Bevis, on the one hand, and Lancelot and 
Galahad on the other. He has the kinightly education which 
Horn had. He knows the craft 

Of wode, of Eyuer, of all game (C. v. 171). 
He is generous. He gives rich gifts to parsons and poor knights, 

And to other oft ^eue he wolde 

Palfrey or stede, siluer and golde, 

Euery man after his good dede 

Of Guy vnderfangeth his mede (C. vv. 181 ff.). 
Moreover he became ill from loving too well, and fought long 
years merely for the sake of a woman. Guy stands in fairly 

20 Creeh 

strong contrast with the heroes of King Horn, of Bevis, and 
of Haveloh, and approaches the heroes of another type of 

Somewhat less need be said about the heroine in these ro- 
mances. The part played by Goldborough is so small that she 
may be dismissed almost with a word. She is seen as a great 
lady, resenting her forced marriage to one apparently far be- 
neath her in rank, and later urging her husband to regain his 
crown — a figure of strength, described as "swi)?e fayr" (v. Ill), 
the "faireste woman on Hue" (v. 281), as bright (v. 2131), as 
chaste (v. 288), and 

Of alle )?ewes was she wis 
}?at gode weren, and of pris (vv. 282 f.). 
The absence of a love element prevents the development of her 
character. She is queen rather than woman. 

The character of Kymenhild, on the other hand, is that of 
a woman, individual in some respects, yet typical of a class, of 
which Josian, in Bevis of Hamtoun, is a member. Her individ- 
uality may be said to lie largely in the very prominence of 
certain typical characteristics. Her appearance is passed almost 
without comment. She is "Kymenhild )?e bri3te" (vv. 382, 390) 
or "Eymenhild ]?e ^onge" (v. 566). It is decidedly by her 
actions that she is interesting. It is a primitive, undisciplined 

"Cf. W. W. Comfort, P.M.L.A., XXI, pp. 307. ff. on the Hero in 
the chansons de geste. See p. 325 for distinction .between hero of earlier 
and later chansons de geste: "If any differentiation were at- 
tempted between the heroes of the earlier and those of the later poems, 
it would consist in this: the heroes of the later poems are less passion- 
ate, less fiery, less implacable; they feel the softening influence of 
woman and of many of the principles of Christian charity which the 
later Middle Age included in the terms chevalerie and courtoisie." A 
comparison in these respects of Bevis with Guy is suggestive. But even 
in the latest chansons de geste, according to Comfort, there remains in 
the hero "an unmistakable trace of his genealogical connection with 
the paladins of Charlemagne. In spite of his love adventures, and the 
lorn maidens, and the kind fairies, his mind harks back to his old-time 
foe, the Saracens, and to his duty to God. If we are not mistaken, 
this undercurrent of sturdy faith, this seriousness of purpose, was just 
the quality which was sought by a portion of the public as contracted to 
the more imaginative, fantastic, and vain heroes of the Breton cycle." 

Matter of England Romances 21 

nature. In love and in hate she is uncontrolled. She loved 
Horn "pat ne^ heo gan wexe wild" (v. 252). There is no 
reserve in. her wooing. When A)?ulf enters her bower she at 
once takes him in her arms. When she finds she has been de- 
ceived by A]7elbrus she is as unrestrained in her rage. 
"Schame mote ]?u fonge 

& on hi^e rode anhonge. . . 

Wip muchel schame mote ]>u deie" (vv. 327 ff.). 
When Horn refuses to plight his troth to Eymenhild, she swoons. 
She is all in tears over her dream of the net (v. 654). When 
she thinks Horn last forever, she is ready to slay herself. 

Heo feol on hir bedde, 

J?er heo knif hudde 

To sle wip king \ope 

& hure selue bo)?e, 

In )?at vlke nijte, 

If horn come ne mi^te 

To herte knif heo sette, 

Ac horn anone hire kepte (vv. 1195 ff.). 
She is as faithful as passionate. When she knows that she 
is about to be forced into a hateful marriage, she sends a mes- 
senger to seek Horn (vv. 933 if.). She watches the sea for her 
absent lover (vv. 975 ff.). Even to the last she has A)7ulf on 
the tower with his eyes searching the great expanse of water. 
Altogetlier she is a wilful, passionate creature of uncontrolled 
impulses, yet constant in love. The author does not think her 
worthy of direct description. Yet he has created a striking 

^As an instructive contrast, an examination of this same character 
elsewhere is valuable. In Horn Childe (the later English version) and 
Horn et Riwel she has lost her primitive traits. She is not wholly 
passionate; she devises plans. In HCh 

J>e miri maiden hir bithoujt 

In what maner Jjat sche moujt 

Trewe love for to ginne ( vv. 364 ff . ) . 
She wins Horn's favor first by costly gifts. Even more striking is the 
equanimity with which she learns of the deceit which the steward 
has practised in substituting HaJ>erof for Horn (vv. 349 ff.). The 
heroine of HR is also a highly developed character, eager, it is true, 
but not merely impulsive. 

22 Creek 

As stated, Josian belongs to the same type. The account 
of her beauty is made somewhat more striking by the use of a 
figure of speech. 

So fair jhe was & brijt of mod, 
Ase snow opon ]?e rede blod (vv. 521 f.). 
She was also "hende" and " wel itau^t," although she knew 
nothing of Christian law (vv. 525 f.). Like Rymenhild she 
loves passionately, and it is her persistence and her willingness 
to change her faith which win her lover. Perhaps it is the 
same persistent courage which gives her the strength to slay 
her undesired husband. A strong woman, equal to emergencies, 
faithful to lover and husband — less attractive than Eymenhild, 
but by no means unworthy — is the heroine of Bevis of Ham- 

But in Felice we have a lady of tlie romance of chivalry. 
Fifteen lines at the outset and more elsewhere are devoted to 
her beauty, although the author remarks that it is so great 
that he cannot describe it (v. 60).** Her accomplishments are 
equally remarkable. 

"Apparently of the same type, .but interesting as tending away 
from it, is Melior, the heroine of William of Palerne. After falling in 
love with William, who apparently is somewhat mildly attached to her, 
she analyzes her feelings in a fashion which Josian and Rymenhild 
would never dream of. Yet she is the really active one of the pair; is 
the pursuer rather than the pursued indeed, acting, however, through 
her maid Alexandrine. William's love, it seems, becomes really passi- 
onate as the result of a dream which Alexandrine, by some magic 
power, introduces into his mind while he sleeps. Even then he merely 
stops eating, makes no effort to win the beloved; who comes to him 
while he is asleep in a garden. This figure is so much sophisticated as 
to seem considerably removed from Rymenhild and Josian. Yet she is 
not much farther removed from the type than is Rimel of Horn et 

^In the Celtic romances elaborate descriptions of dress as well as 
personal beauty are found. Cf. Liheaus Desconus, vv. 868 ff. ; Lauwfal, 
vv. 926 ff. The brightness of the woman's face is characteristic. In 
Richard Goer de Lion a lady is "bryght as the sunne thorugh the glas" 
(v. 76) ; Cf. Legend of Good Women, Prologue B, w. 232 f., Le Bone 
Florence of Rome, w. 184 ff.; also the ballad "Lamkin" (Child No. 93), 
in which the head of a murdered woman, hung in the kitchen, makes 
the hall shine. On the personal appearance of women of chansons de 
geste, cf. Gautier, Chivalry, pp. 306 f. 

Matter of England Romances 23 

All the vii artis she kouthe well, 

Noon better that euere man herde tell. 

His maisters were thider come 

Out of Tholonse all and some; 

White and hoore all they were, 

Bisy they were that mayden to lere (c. w. 81 ff.).*° 
In love she is as reserved and cruel as Rymenhild is unre- 
strained and generous, promising her lover favor repeatedly, 
only to withdraw it, until he has become the most famous knight 
in the world. After that her conduct shows a marked change. 
She seems a very mild and dutiful wife. When Guy becomes 
a pilgrim, she feeds the poor and prays for her absent lord, 
so that there is no better woman in the world (st. 279). As 
with Guy, there is in her traces of the ascetic ideal. The best 
woman, as well as the best man, is one withdrawn from the 
common life. 

Here again we find the Chiy far removed from the other 
romances. Josian and Eymenhild are passionate, primitive 
creatures, willing to do all and suffer all for their lovers. Felice 
is a woman more cultivated, more self-contained, more selfish, 
more of a "lady," and her later piety and devotion but empha- 
size the fact that she is a member of a class. Yet she in turn 
is far removed from the Guinevere type, and farther still from 
the heroine of so many of the later French romances — a mar- 
ried woman who devotes her life to intrigues with a lover."" 

""Josian was educated in "fysik and sirgerie" and "knew erbes 
mani and fale", by the use of one of which she was able to make her- 
self undesirable. This accomplishment is hardly comparable to the 
learning of Felice. The manner of its introduction is also significant, 
as it is told merely to account for Josian's ability to pick out the right 
herb. Knowledge of herbs, however, was not an unusual accomplish- 
ment and seems connected with skill in leechcraft. Acula, in HCh (w. 
790 ff.) and Gouernail in Tristrem (vv. 1200 ff.) are instances. This 
accomplishment is in no sense characteristic of the romance of chivalry, 
but is rather a popular element which survives in the romances. 

^^On frankness of speech and other characteristics of women of 
the chansons de geste, cf. Gautier, Chivalry, pp. 308 ff., and Comfort, 
op. cit., pp. 359 ff. See discussion of love, pp. 36 ff. 

24 Creeh 

While the type which I have called the vassal shows less 
variety, it is extremely interesting. In A)?ulf, in Grim, in 
Saber, in Herhaud, as well as in other characters, one sees the 
relation of lord and follower at its best. A)?nlf, appearing only 
for an instant now and then in the story of Horn, leaves a vivid 
impression. There is never a hint of self-seeking. Not for an 
instant will he take advantage of A)?elbrus*s deception, when 
Eymenhild, thinking him Horn, declares her love. During 
Horn's long absence, he remains in Westernesse to guard the 
mistress for her lover. Herhaud, Grim, and Saber, likewise, 
are always willing to sacrifice all for their respective lords. 
Here is a glimpse of the more beautiful side of chivalry. How- 
ever, it needs no emphasis here, as it is one of the most evident 
of the attractive features common to the whole range of medie- 
val romance." 

Minor characters. 

There are in the romances, as in all narratives, figures which 
flash for an instant before us, then pass away ; perhaps to return, 
and appear and disappear as before; perhaps to be seen no 
more. Some of these we have already noted as stock figures. 
Others do not seem to be of that character. Whatever they are, 
it is interesting to know who they are, what value they have for 
the stories in which they are introduced, and what interest the 
author has succeeded in attaching to them. Most are beyond 
the pale of characterization. Some of them are merely speaking 
persons, who appear unexpectedly, tell their stories, and disap- 
pear. In Horn there are two of these — A)?ulf s father, who 
greets Horn and his companions when they land in Denmark, 
and tells them what has been going on in their absence (vv. 
1301 ff.), and Arnoldin, who appears to tell Horn where 
Eymenhild has been taken by Fikenhild (vv. 1443 ff.). Again, 
there may be characters who are never named. Of this class 
are nine of the twelve companions of Horn — ornamental figures, 
who are dropped without remark. Other characters may be 

^'Cf. Comfort, op. cit., pp. 307 ff., on the relations of vassal and 
lord in the chansons de geste. 

Matter of England Romances 25 

talked about and never actually get on the stage. Eeynild is 
the sole niember of this class in Horn. Others still may merely 
add a touch of pathos, as does Horn's mother. Lastly may be 
mentioned Harild and Berild who, after performing one or 
two insignificant acts, perish almost without rippling the sur- 
face of the narrative. 

Thus Horn, considering the brevity of the story, has a fairly 
full background of dramatis personce. If the English version 
represents the earlier form of the story, it is worth while to 
notice, in passing, how the minor characters appear in such a 
developed, sophisticated romance as Horn et Rimel. A number 
of the parts so insignificant have become really important. 
Lemburc, who plays the part of Eeynild, and her brothers, 
Egfer and Guffer, appear repeatedly in a series of highly elabo- 
rated incidents. The account of Horn's father, told in epic 
fashion by the son in the body of the romance, is fairly full. A 
considerable addition to the stock of characters is made to fill 
up the enlarged stage. Herselote has already been mentioned. 
A nurse is introduced by means of whom Rimel discovers that 
she is making love to another than Horn. Rimel has attend- 
ants, unnamed, ready to amuse the one who might disturb a 
tete-a-tete. In the Irish part of the story, Gudburc and Sud- 
burc, mother and sister of Lemburc, and Eglaf, the chess- 
player and athlete, are additions. Even the Irish kings are 
named. *^ The divergence is extremely interesting, for this elab- 
orate treatment of so many minor dramatis personae marks as 
well as anything else the long distance which must have been 
traveled by one or both of these romances from the source 
common to both. 

In Horn the lesser characters seem to spring, for the most 
part, from a natural development of the plot. This, I think, 
is less true of Havelok, Guy, and Bevis. There may be, how- 

33 However, the companions of Horn are not named. In HCh, 
where less is made of minor characters than in HR, the companions are 
named and carefully disposed of. The twelve companions may be faintly 
reminiscent of the twelve peers of Cliarlemagne, who, in turn, go baclj 
to the twelve apostles; cf. Gautier, Les Epopees (1st ed.), I, pp. 173 fit 

26 Creek 

ever, other sources of interest. In Havelok the two sisters of the 
hero are essentially pathetic characters. Grim's wife, after 
playing an important part in the realistic scene in Grim's 
"cleue,^' is never referred to again. Her brutality to the un- 
known boy, like that of Grim, leaves a blot on the family, if 
not on the story. 

Vp she stirte, and nouht ne sat. 

And caste J?e knaue so harde adoune, 

J?at he crakede )?er his croune 

Ageyn a gret ston, fer it lay (vv. 566 ff.). 

Grim's children and Ubbe play conventional parts. Bernard 
Brun is an innkeeper with a name. His chief part is a repe- 
tition of the story of the fight between Havelok and the sixty 
lads, which might very well have been dispensed with. The 
cook, Bertram, is merely a friendly helper. The Earl of Ches- 
ter and the Earl of Lincoln furnish historical background, and 
the former, in addition, becomes husband of Gunnild, Grimes 
daughter. It is interesting to note that every one of these 
persons has a name, from Leue, the wife of Grim, to Bernard 
Brun, the innkeeper, and Bertram, the cook. Most of the 
minor characters, too, it will be noted, are of humble rank, and 
are an item in the popular character of the story. The prom- 
inence given to the family of Grim is probably due to the 
fact that the romance celebrates a particular place. If the 
minor dramatis personae of Havelok are less intimately con- 
nected with plot than those of Horn, they sliow greater realism 
and broader range. 

In Bevis and GiJ/y the greater part of the minor charac- 
ters are principals in the incidents in which they appear. In 
these romances the story is a succession of adventures, each 
with its little plot. In Bevis these are usually brief and very 
slightly elaborated, three or four dramatis personae being suffi- 
cient for each incident. Many persons appear, only to be slain 
by the hero. Most of these are too colorless to be character- 
ized. In general, it may be said that there is an absence of 
pathetic and ornamental figures. There is a fairly large num- 

Matter of England Romances 27 

ber — including two messengers, two porters, two stewards, a 
palmer, and a giant — bearing no names. There is a concentra- 
tion upon incidents. One figure, Ascopard, stands out some- 
what, being intended, it seems, to produce a comic effect.^* 

Much of what was said about Bevis at the beginning of the 
preceding paragraph applies to Guy as well. The latter ro- 
mance is much longer than the former; the incidents are told 
with greater detail; but there is the same succession of life- 
less figures, among whom the hero displays his prowess. There 
is, moreover, no comic person to be placed beside Ascopard. 
The reference to the various ladies surrounding Felice is 

»* Ab comedy is rather rare in the romances, it seems worth while to 
enter into this feature in somewhat greater detail. Perhaps the chief 
comic scene in the romance is the one of the baptism of Ascopard. 

For Ascopard was mad a koue; 

When J?e beschop him scholde in schoue, 

A lep anon vpon he benche 

And seide : * ' Prest, wiltow me drenche ? 

J?e deuil jeue me helle pine, 

Icham to meche te be Christine!'' (vv. 2591 ff.). 
The incident of the dragon fight has also its comic opportunity. Bevis 
and Ascopard arrive in the neighborhood of the dragon, when 

Ascopard swore, be sein Ion 

A fote ne dorste he forther gon. 

Beues answerde and seide J>o: 

*' Ascopard, whi seistow so? 

Whi schelt Jjow afered be 

Of }>ing J>at J?ow rai^t nou^t sen?" 

A swor, alse he moste J)en, 

He nolde him neij>er hire ne sen; 

"Icham weri, ich mot haue reste; 

Go now for> and do J?e beste!" (w. 2747 ff.). 
The "Icham weri, ich mot haue reste", coming from the mouth of the 
giaut who carried the horse Arondel in his arm (v. 2564), in itself no 
doubt amusing to the medieval audience, must surely have raised a laugh. 
Thus, slightly as the character of Ascopard is developed on the humorous 
side, and dangerous as he proved to be, here is a clear case of the in- 
troduction of a character with whom amusing incidents may naturally 
he cnmiected. 

Comic characters like Ascopard are foimd in a highly developed 
state in certain cMnsons de geste. Cf. W. W. Comfort, op. cit., section 
entitled "Bourgeois and Vilain", pp. 279 ff. For other comic baptis- 
mal scenes see Ferumbras, vv. 5715 ff., and the chanson de geste Aliscans, 
vv. 7885 ff. 

28 Creek 

another element associating it with the courtly type of romance. 
There is, too, the account of the gathering of people at Warwick 
at Pentecost — 

There were Erles, barons, and knyghtes, 

And many a man of grete myghtes; 

Ladies and maydens of grete renown, 

The grettest desired ther to bee bown (C. vv. 189 ff.) — 
which furnishes a courtly setting. With the twelve compan- 
ions of Horn may be compared the twenty sons of good barons 
who were dubbed knights with Guy. The list of dramatis 
personae is very great. Limiting the number to those intro- 
duced as individuals, there are almost a hundred, of whom 
about seventy are named.^ In Bevis there are forty, of whom 
about twenty-five are named. In Havelok there are twenty- 
two, all named; in Horn twenty, of whom fifteen are narae^d. 

Dialogue and Soliloquy. 

Dialogue plays an interesting and important part in dis- 
playing character, and the manner of the dialogue goes far 
toward being the manner of the romance. 

In Horn the vigorous dialogue serves to advance the narra- 
tive rather than to portray character. It is significant, too, 
that real soliloquy, to reveal intention or mood, is absent. In 
Haveloh, on the contrary, in which dramatic situation is not ^ 
emphasized, dialogue is of comparatively slight importance, 
while numerous soliloquies reveal mood and purpose.^^ In 
Bevis there is gain in dialogue with the author's superior sense 

35 That the scribes did not keep the dramatis personw clearly in 
mind is evidenced by curious blunders. Thus Clarice, the daughter of 
the Emperor of Constantinople, is called ^ ' Blauncheflour ' * in both the 
Auchinleck and Caius MSS. at one point (v. 4497). Again, in a battle 
with the Saracens, the King of Nubia, after being struck down by Guy, 
immediately afterward is summoned by the Sultan to attack the Chris- 
tians (v. 3506 ff.). This is only in the Auchinleck MS.; in the Caius 
MS. it is the King of Armenia whom the Sultan sends against the 
Christians, which, no doubt, is the correct reading. 

36 There are 137 lines in the poem, including the prayer of Havelok 
at Grimsby (vv. 1359 ff.), which possess the nature of soliloquy. An ex- 
cellent example is the soliloquy in which Havelok determines that he 
must ''swinken" for his ''mete" (vv. 790 ff.). 

Matter of England Romances 29 

of situation. However, it is a matter of plot priniarily, al- 
though, with its brevity and passion, it is valuable for charac- 
ter too.^^ The seven soliloquies are brief and of slight impor- 
tance. Both dialogue and soliloquy are of great importance in 
Guy. Dialogue is sustained, and emotions are presented fuUy.^^ 
The soliloquies are long and important. The one which shows 
Guy struck with remorse for his sins is both moving and true 
(sts. 21 f.). In dialogue and soliloquy Guy shows the charac- 
teristics of the chivalric romance. 

Interest in mental states. 

In reading this section much that has already been said 
should be kept in mind. The discussion of the individual 
characters, of dialogue, and of soliloquy includes much which 
might be treated here. But to avoid needless repetition, the 
attempt will be made to view the material already familiar 
from another angle, something being added to make the out- 
look sufficiently broad. The term "interest in mental states" is 
employed here loosely. The manner in which emotion is mani- 
fested by the dramatis personae, the degree to which the author 
delights in analyzing mental states, even the extent of the 
emotional appeal to the auditor, and the way in which it is 
produced, will come under review. 

King Horn, which is the most ballad-like of all genuine 
English romances,^^ has, like the ballad, emotional value apart 
from any overt interest on the part of the author in character 
or mental states. The dialogue has frequently this emotional 
appeal. But of real interest in states of mind as such there is 
none. In the most dramatic scenes the auditor may be left 
without a hint of the emotions of the dramatis personae (e. g., 
the banishment of Horn, vv. 705 ff.).*** In Havelok the situa- 

37 Cf. vv. 73 ff., 283 ff., 394 ff., 421 ff., etc. 

38 The second interview of Guy and Felice fills one hundred lines, 
and there is real progression, giving a clear view of the characters of the 
principal actors. 

3» Cf . Hart, Ballad and Epic, p. 56. 

*o With King Horn should be compared Horn et Bimel, the author 
of which shows decided interest in mental states. As has been stated, 

80 Creek 

tion is almost reversed. There is a certain amount of interest 
in mental states as such, but none of the ballad-like appeal to 
feelings by poignant situations such as we found in Horn, The 
author takes pleasure in reminding the hearers that Godrich is 
deceived and plotting his own ruin when he plans to marry 
Goldborough and Havelok. 

For he wende, >at Hauelok wore 

Sum cherles sone, and no more; 

Ne shulde he hauen of Engellona 

Onlepi forw in his hond 

With hire, }?at was ]?er-of \>e eyr, 

J7at bo]?e was god and swi}?e fair. 

He wende, )?at Hauelok wer a J?rai, 

)?er-]?oru he wende hauen al 

In Engelond, J?at hire riht was (w. 1091 ff.). 

We are told in some detail how the characters thought over 

situations. Thus A]?elwold considers at length what^^^esTTo^ 

do to protect his daughter's interests after his death. Havelok 

considers carefully before returning to Grimsby with his bride. 

In fact there is a good deal of downright thinking going on. 

To Bevis what was said about Horn in large measure applies. 

The situations in themselves are often moving, but the author 

does not dwell on the emotions of his characters, nor does he 

seem to insist on the emotional appeal to the reader. He is in 

too much of a hurry to get on. However, the dialogue is often 

characteristic enough to reveal the feelings of the characters. 

Herselote^s importance lies in her part as RimePs confidante. Rodmnnd 
can hardly decide on the fate of Horn and his companions. Eimel's 
impatience and anxiety to obtain an interview with Horn appear when 
she sends for the seneschal. 

Ele demaunde sonvent dan Herlant quant vendra (v. 529). 
She gazes in her mirror and inquires anxiously as to her appearance 
(vv. 526 ff.). Herlant 's mental distress at Rimel's request to see Horn, 
his sleeplessness, his arguments with himself, are related in detail (vv, 
662 flf. ). The scene in Rimel's chamber when HaJ>erof is trying to 
convince Rimel that he is not Horn but is unable to do so, presents an 
interesting psychological situation. This interest in emotional states is 
prominent throughout the romance, and the length of this redaction is 
largely due to this characteristic. 

Matter of England Romances 31 

But the reader is left in doubt as to Bevis's feelings for Josian 
up to the time when she became a Christian. In the love affair 
it is only the heroine's feelings which are revealed. Scarcely 
anything is made of the loss of wife and children, when Asco- 
pard carries Josian away and the two boys are left in the care 
of strangers. Whatever emotional appeal there is springs en- 
tirely from the imaginative sympathy of the audience with the 
situation. It need scarcely be said that there is far greater 
interest in emotional states of mind in Guy. So far as the 
hero's love and repentance are concerned, this was made clear 
in discussing the soliloquies. One may note, also, the accounts 
of the reunion of comrades after long separation (vv. 1749 ff. ; 
sts. 142 ff.) ; the story of Guy^s parting from father and mother 
(w. 1217 ff.) ; the story of Oisel and Tirri; the story of Jonas. 
There is not so much analysis as in many French romances, 
but there is a decided interest in emotional states, a too-marked 
insistence on them often, which sets Guy far apart from Horn, 
Havelok, and Bevis.*'^ 

When one looks at the actual manner of manifesting emo- 
tion in the romances, he is at once in the midst of stock ma- 
terial. However, I believe that differences in the treatment of 
this stock material will appear. The expression of grief is 
most important. Wringing of the hands is, of course, a com- 
monplace, and is not limited by age or sex. 

]>e children hi bro^te to stronde 

Wringende here honde (Horn, vv. Ill ff.). 
When Eymenhild found her messenger drowned, 

Hire fingres he gan wringe (ihid., v. 980). 
Likewise of the child Bevis: 

jeme a wep, is hondes wrong (Bevis, v. 298). 

Swooning is even more common. Eymenhild falls (presumably 

in a faint) three times: on Horn's refusal of her love "adun 

he feol iswo^e" (v. 428) ; at Horn's departure for Ireland she 

*i It may be noted that little is said about the heroine's feelings, as 
contrasted with Horn et Bimel, for instance, where there is a pretty 
thorough study made of the feelings of Eimel, much more subtle in- 
deed than the study of the lover's feelings in Guy. 

32 Creek 

"feol to grunde" (v. 740) ; and again she "feol iswoje" when 
Horn approached Fikenhild's castle singing (v. 1479). Swoon- 
ing does not occur in Haveloh, and in Bevis occurs but twice — 
curiously enough a man being the victim in each case. Thus 
Terri, when he was told that Guy was dead, 

fel J?er doun and swou^, 

His her, his cloJ?es he al to-drouj (w. 1309 f.). 
And Bevis, when he finds his two newborn children, but no 

fel )>ar doun and swou^ (v. 3717). 
Lovers were of course expected to faint, and Guy is a perfect 
lover. At the end of a confession of love, 

Adoune he felle swoune with that (v. 598). 
Later in the story, what with bleeding wounds and sorrow 
for his slain friends, "adoun he fel aswon." Herhaud swoons 
from the shock of surprise and joy in meeting Guy (v. 1762), 
and again he "fel in swowe vpon his bedde'"" because of anxiety 
for Guy, who was absent on a dangerous mission (v. 3999). 
Oisel faints over her wounded lover (v. 4896), and again when 
she sees him in bonds (v. 5903). Both Guy and Felice swoon 
when he announces his intention to become a pilgrim (st. 32, v. 
11). Tirri swoons when he learns that the unknown pilgrim 
who had slain his enemy Berard is in truth his old comrade Guy 
(st. 226, V. 3). Lastly, Felice swoons when she comes to the 
hermitage where her husband lies dead. 

Weeping is too common an occurrence for anything like a 
full list here. While more often it is the manifestation of a 
woman's grief, it is not at all regarded as unworthy of heroes. 
In Horn there are the following examples: 

Heo sat on )?e sunne 

WiJ? tires al birunne (vv. 653 if.). 

Alf weop wi)? i^e 

& al J7at him isi3e (vv. 755 if.). 

Horn iherd with his ires 

A spak with bidere teres (vv. 887 ff.). 

*2 Caius MS. only, v. 4013. 

Matter of England Romances S8 

Ne miste heo adri^e 

J?at heo (Rymenhild) ne weop wi}? ije (w. 1035 f.). 

J?e bride wepej? sore (v. 1049). 

She was "sore wepinge & jerne" when Horn entered the hall 
where the wedding feast was being prepared; she wept "teres 
of blode" when imprisoned by Fikenhild (v. 1406). A)?ulf, 
watching for Horn, says "for soreje nu y wepe" (v. 1104). In 
Havelok there are only two or three examples. The lords whom 
A)?elwold summoned when he was at the point of death 

Greten, and gouleden, and gouen hem ille (v. 164). 
Havelok and his sisters, shut up in a castle, wept for hunger 
and cold (v. 416). Likewise, there is little weeping in Bevis. 
When the boy hero learned of his father's death, "/erne a 
wep" (v. 298). Josian weeps right sorely (vv. 1111, 1190) and 
Bevis hears her weeping and crying in the castle of Yvor (v. 
2101). Guy, true lover that he is, weeps as well as faints 
from the violence of his passion (vv. 247, 261, 568). He weeps 
too over his fallen comrades (v. 1554). The kissing of men 
is associated with weeping sometimes, either for joy or for sor- 
row. Once when Herhaud and his fellows rescue Guy pursued 
by Saracens, 

j?e most hepe wepen for blis; 

)?ai kisten Gij alle for blis (vv. 4072 f.). 
When Guy and Tirri part. 

To gider J?ai kisten )?o, 

At her departing J?ai wepen bo (vv. 7111 f.). 
And at another parting they 

kist hem wij? eije wepeing (st. 232). 
Weeping with both eyes seems intended to imply violent ween- 
ing (v. 4455, sts. 138, 226, 294). 

The more violent tearing of hair and clothes is also a con- 
vention of romances. There are no cases in Horn or in Have- 
lok. In Bevis there is the instance quoted above when Terri 
swooned and, apparently at the same time. 

His her, his clo)?es he al todrouj (v. 1310), 

34 Creek 

In Guy the expression is common. Of Guy in love it is said 
His clothes he rende, his heer he drough (v. 420). 

The Sultan, enraged at his defeat, rends his clothes (Caius v. 

3692). Earl Jonas, when Guy meets him, is rending his clothes 

and tearing his hair (st. 46). 

Other ways of expressing grief may be mentioned. "Hise 

heorte began to childe'^ {Horn, v. 1148) has numerous paral- 
lels. *^ In Bevis there is 

)?e childes herte was wel colde (v. 511). 


J?e kinges herte wex wel cold (v. 553). 

Less conventional is the account of Josian's woe when she 

thinks Bevis is leaving her: 

"Hire pou^te, ]?e tour wolde on Mr falle (v. 1140.).** 

Guy complains that, because of love, he cannot sit nor stand, 

rest nor sleep, eat nor drink (w. 315 ff.). There is also in 

Guy an abundance of making "mone" and sighing "sore." 

The expression of Joy is also unrestrained. Kissing is often 

a token of joy. 

Hi custe hem mid ywisse 

& makeden muchel blisse {Horn, vv. 1209 f.). 

When Terri discovered his father Saber in the palmer, he took 

him in his armes 

& gonne cleppen and to kisse 

And made meche ioie & blisse (vv. 3944 f.). 

Almost the identical lines occur at another place (vv. 3057 f.). 

In Guy the meeting of old friends is accompanied by kissing. 
To kissen Herhaud )7ai hem do, 
Wel gret ioie )?ai maden J?o (vv. 6655 f.).*^ 

Swooning or falling down for joy is restricted to Guy. Her- 

haud's swooning (v. 1762) has been mentioned. When Oisel, 

forcibly held by Otous, saw Guy unexpectedly, 

*3 See Hall's note to this line, Breul's note to Gowther, v. 546, and 
Schmirgers list of stereotyped phrases in Bevis (in the Introduction 
to Kolbing's edition), p. XL VI. 

*4 Kolbing says no parallels found. 

*6 See Schmirgel for additional parallels, p. XLV. 

Matter of England Romances 35 

For blisse sche fel aswon adoun (v. 6297). 
She swoons again when she meets Tirri: 

For ioie sche swoned omong hem (v. 6533). 
Unrestrained expression of emotion on the part of dramatis 
personce is a characteristic pretty general in metrical romance.** 
In the group here studied, Haveloh, which is the least romantic, 
is least emotional, and Guy, which is most romantic, is most 
emotional. The means of expressing feeling are thoroughly con- 
ventional, as the brief review here made clearly shows.*^ Horn, 
Bevis, and Guy represent types of literature which originally 
stood far apart. Yet we find them side by side on English 
soil, drawing from the same stock of literary material. The 
sentimentalism of Guy brings with it a freer use of the ex- 
treme forms of expressing emotion.*^ In Bevis, where senti- 

46 Sir Cleges (v. 90 of the romance so named) swoons from think- 
ing of his misfortunes. In William of Paleme the Emperor swoons six 
times ''for sorwe & for schame" when William elopes with Melior (v. 
2098); in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women (v. 1342) Dido swoons 
twenty times (but this is hardly meant to be exact), Charlemagne and 
his hundred thousand followers faint for grief at the death of Eoland 
(Chanson de Eoland, v. 2916) ; in Eenaud de Montauban the four sons of 
Aymon faint on seeing their paternal castle after an absence (Gautier, 
1st ed., IT, p. 192). 

47 Additional proof of conventionality of these and many other ex- 
pressions may be obtained by consulting Schmirgel's list of typical 
phrases in the introduction to Kolbing's Bevis, the introduction to 
Zielke 's edition of Sir Orfeo, as well as the notes to Kolbing 's Bevis, 
Zupitza 's Guy of Warwick, Hall 's Horn, etc. 

48 Fainting, weeping, and tearing of the hair apparently run through 
medieval narrative literature. In the roman d'aventure the most violent 
grief is for unsuccessful love, in the chanson de geste for loss of com- 
rades, although exceptions to this rule may be found. Sickness result- 
ing from love is of course a strictly romantic feature. With Guy's 
illness may be compared the "fever" of Troilus in Troilus and Criseyde, 
v. 491. Fainting seems to have been almost a necessary part of romantic 
courtship. In the French Amados 4" Ydoine (cf. Hist. Litt., XXII, p. 
761) the scornful lady is won by the hero's fainting in her presence. 
In the chanson the fainting is more likely to be on the lady's side. In 
Enfances Guillaume when Orable, the Saracen maiden, is hearing from 
her brother an account of the beauty of Guillaume, whom she has never 
seen, she says she will faint if he says another word (Gautier, 2nd ed., 
IV, p. 297). 

36 Creeh 

ment plays a small part, we find these stock expressions here 
and there, almost unexpectedly. In Horn, which is more truly 
romantic, the expression of joy, less unrestrained than in Guy, 
is more appropriate than in Bevis. But the strong resemblance 
of these metrical stories is due, largely at least, to the recasting 
at the hands of Englishmen who did not distinguish types ; who 
were familiar with stock romantic material, the well-known 
poses, rhyme phrases, etc., and in translating threw them in 
where convenient.*® 

In the English romances the expressions representing emo- 
tion are for the most part stock material, English material 
indeed, although no doubt French romance assisted in its crea- 
tion. Perhaps there was a tendency in this respect to confuse 
tvpes of narrative — that is, in the use of these stock emotional 
expressions — which brings the English romances nearer to- 
gether than their sources. 
The human relations. 

It is perfectly clear, even to him who reads running, that 
the medieval romances by no means deal in anything like a 
complete way with the various relations which make up human 
life. The name romance perhaps cuts out a certain portion 
of these; but modern romance has looked upon and cultivated 
great areas of life which medieval romance never dreamed 
about. To determine a little more clearly what are the human 
limits of the metrical romances, particularly the four now under 
examination, is the purpose of this section. 
J Love, as in all romance, is, next to war, the greatest interest. 
This means, of course, the love of the sexes. Other forms of 
love — of parent and child, of brother and sister, of brother and 
brother — are almost crowded out. War, of course, means com- 
radeship, and the love of comrades for each other — sometimes 
of follower for lord — plays its expected part. But affections 
other than the love of man and woman, of warrior and warrior, 
are of insignificant interest. 

*®A comparison of Bevis with the Old French Boeve de Haumtone 
(ed. by Stimming, Bib. Normannica, Halle, 1899), which represents 
pretty closely the version which the English translator had before him. 
shows very few cases of parallelism of emotional expression. 

Matter of England Romances 37 

In these four romances there are two types of love repre- 
sented, the passionate and the chivalrous. The latter is, of 
course, the type at once associated with medieval romance — 
with Lancelot and with Tristram. In greater refinement it is 
represented by the love stories of Dante and Pertrach. It is 
the love of Arthurs court and of the court of love, of Chretien 
at the beginning and Malory at the end of a literary period. 
This type of love is represented in Guy, imperfectly perhaps, yet 
not unattractively. The passionate type is represented in Horn 
and Bevis. 

Curiously enough, in the passionate type it is the woman who 
woos. This is a situation appearing in William of Palerne, in 
Amis and Amiloun,^^ as well as in Horn and in Bevis. There 
seems to be a greater popularity in the kind of love here repre- 
sented. It is attractive by its simplicity, its frankness, its 
faithfulness, its healthy, unspoiled, primitive human nature. 
Sometimes there seems to be a certain disregard of the legal bond 
of marriage. Apparently Kymenhild cared little for it (vv. 
531 ff.) ; we are not sure that Josian did (vv. 1093 if.). Will- 
iam of Palerne's love for Melior had, at first, no legal sanction. 
Yet there is always the faithfulness which we associate with the 
marriage tie. It is the unmoral attitude of the ballads. \ 

This passionate type of love is characteristic of the chanson 
de geste (cf. Gautier, I, p. 207). It is the lady who makes the 
advances, sometimes in a disgustingly bold manner.^^ Fre- 
quently it is a Saracen girl who shows this frank, sometimes 
brutal passion, which may not scruple at parricide to attain its 
end.^2 However, the general traits of female character seem 

^0 The love in William of Palerne is not quite of the chanson de 
geste type. But in Amis and Amiloun it very clearly is. Beliiaunt 
threatens Amis with death if he does not accept her love (Am, and Ami- 
loun, vv, 625 ff.). Ociavian (S. Eng. version), vv. 1201 ft., tells of a 
Saracen maid loving a Christian knight, who makes advances to him 
and finally becomes a Christian. 

51 More than twenty girls go to the beds of knights in chansons de 
geste, according to Gautier. 1st ed., T, p. 478. 

52 Cf. the English Sir Ferumhras, vv. 5763 ff. In this case Floripas, 
who has been converted, seems fired with religious zeal. 

38 Creeh 

much the same in Christian as in Saracen.^^ Prejudice against 
Saracen women who become Christians is not a trait of the 
chansons de geste.^^ Orable, the wife of Guillaume de Orange, 
is perhaps the most attractive of the heroines of the chansons 
de geste. This typical woman was never a person common in 
real life; but she probably does represent an earlier stage when 
women were of less importance socially, and when distinctively 
feminine traits were not held in the esteem which was felt by 
the society implied by the roman d'aventure. 

In Guy it is the man who woos. The lady is unsusceptible, 
disdainful even. The hero must remain afar off, must wait 
for many years; and when he wins his love he is scarcely per- 
mitted to enjoy it. There is a strong undercurrent of asceti- 
cism. The love of woman leads to strife; many men have been 
and will be '^to gronde y-brou^f by women (vv. 1503 ff.) ; it 
is after renunciation that the noblest character is developed 
both in Guy and in Felice (st. 279). Even pure and chival- 
rous love is unworthy in the presence of religious asceticism. 

It is well to bear in mind that there was an ideal of love 
in medieval literature, and life, too, perhaps, which insisted 
that the perfect relation was betw^een a married woman and an 
unmarried man. At its best this ideal is beautiful, if unprac- 
tical and ultimately immoral. It sprang from a desire to pre- 
' serve the first bright glow of young love before desire had dark- 
ened it. To do this meant to love the unattainable and unap- 
proachable — a married woman. This of course is the love of 
Dante for Beatrice. It is the love which dictated the rules of 
the court of love. But in many of the French romances, as 
well as in their English analogues, we see the ideal breaking 

53 Cf . the conduct of Charlemagne 's queen Galienne in Garin de 
Monglane (Gautier, 2nd ed., IV, pp. 138 ff.). Three maidens seek Garin 's 
love in Enfances de Garin (Gautier, IV, pp. 115 ff.). Even the chanson 
de geste hero vrearies of the boldnesB of the women; cf. complaint of 
Girars de Viane, mentioned by Gautier, ]st ed., II, p. 90. 

64 Usually sexual relations with an unconverted Saracen woman were 
strongly condemned. Cf. Merlins (Percy Folio, I, vv. 410 ff.) : 

King Anguis had verament 

a daughter that was faire & gent, 

that was heathen Saracen; 

& Vortiger for loue fine 

vndertooke her for his wiffe, 

& liued in cursing all his liffe. 

Matter of England Romances 39 

down, and another taking its place. The beloved is still a mar- 
ried woman, but not quite unapproachable, not quite unattain- 
able. Here of course stand Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristram 
and Iseult, human and attractive, but sinners who must suffer. 
Later still come the romances in which illicit love is represented 
not as sin, perhaps not involving evil consequences, or, if so, only 
accidentally as any pure love might. Under a slight varnish 
there is often all the grossness of fabliau. Yet the author will 
say that these were perfect lovers.^^ It is interesting to note that 
these grosser romances had no vogue in English. No doubt they 
were repugnant to medieval English moral standards, at least 
of the public which read the English romances, low as they 
often are. Contemporary with these immoral romances, with 
their ideal of courtly, illicit love, were romances in which love 
seems so primitive as in Horn and Bevis, and so pure as in Ouy. 
The English were using the less fashionable of contemporary 
literary material. 

More important is war — involving the emotions of hatred 
and envy, as well as hope of glory and joy of victory. Here we 
are concerned primarily with the human side — with the emo- 
tions concerned. These are implied rather than expressed. In 
Horn and in Bevis there is the opposition of Christian and 
Saracen; in Haveloh, of the loyal and the traitorous; in Gva/ of 
Warwick, of national and foreign. In addition, we find in our 
romances hostility because of the appearance of an undesired 
suitor for the heroine's hand, or because some one has been 
dispossessed of his property, or because some one has been 
worsted in a tournament. On the whole it may be said that 
these hostile relations are dwelt upon only sufficiently to bring 
about the fascinating scenes when lances break and swords 
clash. To see more clearly how the human elements enter into 
war it will be sufficient to discuss vengeance, cruelty, and the 
emotions of the fight. 

55 Good summaries of several romances of this type may be found 
in Langlois, Soci4tS Frangaise au Xllle lSik,de D\ipr^s dix Bomans 
cVAventure (Paris, 1904); cf. Le Chatelaine de Couci, for example. 

40 Creeh 

The emotions of the fight are anger and fear. In Horn and 
Havelok these scarcely appear. In the fight with his father's 

Horn him gan agrise, 

& his blod arise (vv. 868 ff.). 
And Godard when captured "rorede als a bole" (Hav. v. 2438). 
In BeviSj however, there are numerous expressions to indicate 
the state of mind of combatants, especially of the hero. These 
are chiefly about physical sufferings. He is injured 

}>at he mi^te sofre namore (Bevis, v. 630). 
When he got to his chamber, he 

leide him deueling on J?e grounde 
To kolen is hertte in ]?at stounde (vv. 649 f.). 
He became weary in his fight with the boar (v. 799). In the 
fight with the dragon "him J^oujte his herte to-brast" (v. 1792), 
and in his fight with the London crowd he was "wo be-gon" 
because of his wounds. In Guy combatants suffer for water 
(sts. 113, 120). When wounded, Amoraunt's "hert was full of 
ire and care" (v. 8541). Colbrond, when wounded, "was sore 
aschame" (st. 262). Guy in the same fight was sore dismayed 
and sore aghast when his sword broke. These are but a few 
of the cases in Bevis and Guy in which something is said about 
the emotions and physical sufferings of combatants. The 
simpler romances of Horn and Havelok have less fighting and 
therefore less material of this kind. Perhaps the most striking 
feature to be observed is the absence of fear. 

Vengeance has an important part to play in many ro- 
mances — and in three of this group, Horn, Haveloh, Bevis. But 
the feeling of bitterness from which deeds of vengeance spring 
is almost absent. It is true that vengeance is secured. The 
Saracen enemies of Horn are slain; Godard and Godrich pay for 
their treachery with their lives; and the mother and stepfather 
of Bevis- likewise perish. But of real hatred there is none 
except in the case of Bevis. Even in his case there is nothing 
to compare with the vengeance of Elizabethan drama. It is in 
the background of the story. 

Matter of England Romances 41 

Of cruelty there is probably no more than medieval life 
.would justify. In Horn there is mutual slaughter of Saracens 
and Christians, non-combatants as well as combatants (vv. 63 
ff., 1377 ff.). But mortal enmity between Christians and in- 
fidels is merely part of the setting of much of medieval litera- 
ture.^* Even the Saracens did not have the cruelty to slay Horn 
and his companions outright. Fikenhild, after his death at 
Horn's hands, was drawn/^ but that was the customary fate of 
traitors. The same remark applies to the tortures undergone 
by Godrich and Godard. They are condemned by their peers, 
and no one might do Godrich shame before trial {Haveloh, vv. 
1762 if.). But there is no shrinking from legal cruelty. When 
Godard had been sentenced and shriven, 

Sket came a ladde with a knif. 

And bigan riht at )7e to 

For to ritte, and for to flo 

So it were grim or gore (vv. 2493 ff.). 
With like severity Godrich was bound to a stake and burned 
(vv. 2831 ff.). The cruelty of Bevis is of a much fiercer quality. 
When Bevis was told that his half-brother^^ had been uninten- 
tionally slain by his father he 

lou3 and hadde gode game (v. 3116). 
When his stepfather was captured, he had him put to death by 
being thrown into a kettle of lead, and when his mother, be- 
holding her husband thus perish, falls from the castle and 
breaks her neck, 

Alse glad he was of hire, 

Of his damme, ase of is stepsire (vv. 3463 f.). 
Such brutality as this is entirely absent from Ouy. Here is 
another instance of the distance by which this romance is re- 
moved from the others, particularly from Bevis, which in struc- 
ture it so much resembles. 

56 Even in war there was less consideration for Saracens than for 
Christian enemies; a twelfth century church council forbade the use of 
the crossbow against Christian enemies. 

"Fikenhild hi dude todra^e {Horn, v. 1492). 

58 Possibly stepbrother! 

42 - Creeh 

As has been said, not much is made of the family relations. 
The relation of husband and wife seems to be an exception, as 
it is a source of interest in Havelok, Bevis, and Guy. Yet not 
ver}' much is made of it. In Bevis it is only the wife who seems 
much affected by the long separation. In Guy there is the tacit 
approval of the departure of the husband at a time when he is 
aware that he is to be a father. Scarcely anything is made of 
the relationship of mother and son. The meeting of Horn and 
Godhild, furnishing such a splendid chance for pathos, is barely 
mentioned (v. 1383).^^ In Bevis the mother's attitude is en- 
tirely unnatural. The mother of Havelok is not mentioned; 
and the mother of Guy is neglected after the beginning of the 
romance. The relation of father and son is of greater impor- 
tance. It is necessary that the hero's father should be a man 
of rank and might as an assurance of the hero's qualifications. 
The death of the father may introduce the motive of quest for 
vengeance {Horn, Bevis) ; the hero may take pride in his father 
{Bevis, vv. 613 ff.). But scarcely anything is made of filial 
affection.^^ Much less is made of fraternal affection. As a rule 
the hero of romance is an only child, at least of both father 
and mother ; so Guy, Horn, Bevis. The sisters of Havelok perish 
too early to play a significant part. It is true of romance litera- 
ture in general that the fraternal relation is unimportant.®^ The 
relation of subject and lord is, as has already been indicated, 
one of importance. But when the most is made of all this, one 
need only think of Chaucer to realize that the appeal of these 
early metrical romances is to a limited range of emotion. 

In order to see clearly what eacli of these romances has con- 
tributed to medieval character-writing, it is necessary to con- 

59 It is interesting to note that in Ponthus and Sidone the reunion 
of mother and son is elaborated and made the basis of pathetic appeal. 

60 The relation of father and son is more important in some ro- 
mances; cf. Generydea, Perceval, Libeaus Desconus. 

61 Numerous references to the relationship are of course found ; 
cf. Oliver and Aude, Percevale and his sister. But it is not made the 
basis of emotional appeal to any great extent. 

Matter of England Romances 43 

sider them separately, summarizing, for the most part, the 
conclusions already stated. 

King Horn. — In this romance the characterization seems to 
harmonize perfectly with the rough, uncouth background of life 
and nature. Horn is a fighter first and a lover second. Indeed, 
as a lover, while faithful, he is not ardent. His long sojourn 
in Ireland does not seem sufficiently motivated if he is greatly 
in love. He does not absolutely refuse the Irish princess. He 
hesitates to accept Eymenhild's love when ojffered. His caution 
and self-command are almost too great. He is more anxious to 
receive knighthood and to become a warrior than to be the 
accepted lover of the ro3'al princess. Yet he is a simple, manly, 
engaging figure. Eymenhild is equally simple, but her sim- 
plicity is that of primitive passion. Passionate love and pas- 
sionate anger seem to bound her emotional range. The minor 
characters are barely sketched. Perhaps there is a touch of 
character contrast in the presentation of Fikenhild and A]?ulf, 
both Horn^s companions and subjects, both bound to him by ties 
of friendship, both receiving knighthood at his hands, but Fiken- 
hild is throughout the type of the unfaithful as A]7ulf is the 
type of the faithful vassal. Other characters are merely con- 
ventional figures — the porter, the palmer, Arnoldin, King Modi. 

In presenting character, emotion, states of mind, use has 
been made of dialogue and action. A little is said of personal 
appearance, there is a hint here and there as to the feelings of 
the dramatis personw, but these are comparatively unimportant. 
The dialogue reveals the progress of the love affair. The abun- 
dant action, of course, often reveals mood and attitude. Else- 
where all is left to the imagination of reader or hearer — the 
intention, the state of mind, even the character. The sim- 
plicity of character and emotion is emphasized by the sketchy 

Of the human relations involved, only one is treated elabo- 
rately — namely, love. This is a human, popular, primitive pas- 
sion, careless of fashion, free from coquetry, faithful, but with- 
out adoration. The woman woos, the man somewhat passively 

44 Creeh 

accepts the offered love. The love of comrades, manifested in 
Horn and A]7ulf, while not developed, furnishes an additional 
interest, opposing the "envy" of Fikenhild, that scarcely under- 
stood hatred of the hero which apparently arouses very little 
resentment on the part of the one who suffers from it. The 
Saracens, however, arouse fiercer passions, although these are 
barely suggested. The darker passions remain iinelaborated. 

Havelolc. — In HaveloJc the atmosphere has changed. Not 
knights, but the folk fill the stage. Havelok is a good servant, 
can put the stone beyond the farthest, and can break heads with 
a door-tree. He is good-natured, cautious, simple. There is no 
hint of passionate love or keen thirst for glory. Grim is a 
sturdy, loyal fisherman. The more vivid minor characters are 
fishermen (Grim's children), a cook, an innkeeper. Gold- 
borough is scarcely the sketch of a queenly figure. Aj^elwold, a 
character of some importance, is an ideal king from the point of 
view of the peaceful, law-abiding middle class. Godrich and 
Godard, almost indistinguishable, are typical traitors. There 
is greater interest in states of mind than in Horn. There is 
greater individuality of character. This seems to be due to a 
changed point of view, as if the writer were not a minstrel seeing 
life through the spectacles of a courtly nobility, or even a crude, 
rough nobility, but some one — a priest, perhaps — who sees life 
with the eyes of the laborers or tradespeople of provincial 

Here the author has more to say about his characters — A]?el- 
wold, Havelok, Godard, and others. The soliloquies reveal both 
character and intention. With less dramatic situation, the dia- 
logue is comparatively unimportant. Action, of course, is im- 
portant for revealing character, especially as purpose and mood, 
out of which action arises, are made clear. On the other hand, 
there is far less passion than in Horn, since the situations are so 
much less vivid and emotionally significant. Character appar- 
ently is more consciously in the mind of the author, and is 
emphasized by the more obvious means — soliloquy, general nar- 
rative, and direct statement — ^but the emotions springing from, 
dramatic situation are neglected. 

Matter of England Romances 45 

The field of human relations is again comparatively narrow. 
Love is almost absent. The relation of subject and king is per- 
haps most important, exemplified by Grim, Ubbe, and Grim's 
children, and, negativeh', by Godard and Godrich. There is a 
national outlook absent from Horn, not present to an equal 
degree in Bevis and Gui/. The relation of parent and child is 
intimately connected with the deaths of A]?elwold and Birkabein. 
There is a glimpse, too, of the relation of servant and master. 
However, there is not the dramatic tension of strong passions 
which makes human relations of great significance for the story. 
The interest centers largely in the interaction of the hero and 
his environment — his conduct when famine reduces Grim to 
poverty, his conduct as the cook's servant, his success in the 
game of putting the stone, or of breaking heads. The chief 
emotion of the poem is the sense of triumph felt by the audience 
as it sympathetically followed the progress of the hero. 

Bevis. — In Bevis, as in Horn, character has little interest for 
the author. He does not stop to describe character, and seldom 
to indicate mental states. Yet the main dramatis personce are 
not unimpressive. We seem somehow to be again in the presence 
of fierce, primitive people and emotions. Bevis is a fighter, 
who joys in battle more than in love. He is fierce and even cruel 
— a stern, irresistible, brutal warrior, whose claim to admiration 
is unmeasured valor. Josian loves as Eymenhild loved — vio- 
lently. She does not shrink from inflicting death on a perse- 
cutor. Other characters have an equal fierceness, without the 
redeeming faithfulness. Bevis's mother, the Emperor of Al- 
maine, Ascopard, and most of the Saracens are people to inspire 
terror. There is not much said of states of mind, but so far as 
they are not purely conventional romantic material, due to the 
translator, they have the same fierceness and primitive quality 
that mark the entire romance. 

Character is presented by means of situation and dialogue. 
N"ot much is made of soliloquy. Scarcely anything is said in the 
way of direct characterization, and not much in regard to emo- 
tions. However, the dialogue is sharp and characteristic, and 

46 CreeTe 

the situations swiftly succeeding one another have a cumulative 
effect, especially in connection with the impression made by the 
hero. It may be noted that there is a slightly humorous char- 
acter in Ascopard. 

What was said about human relations in Horn may almost 
be repeated here. There is the unrestrained love of the heroine, 
faithful and heroic; and there is, too, the lukewarmness of the 
hero. There is the development of the friendship of fellows-in- 
arms. There is the same background of Saracens versus Chris- 
tians, as a basis for hatred and war. There is, however, greater 
fierceness and cruelty than in Horn. We are moving in the 
atmosphere of unrefined knighthood, of untempered fanaticism, 
and unbridled brutality, relieved somewhat by faithful love in 
wife and comrade. 

Guy of Warwick. — Guy is a long step from Bevis. Here 
chivalry has softened warrior and war. Guy is an irresistible 
warrior like Bevis, but he is an adoring lover, and becomes a 
devoted palmer, doing penance for his sins. His character is 
less simple; he feels the conflict of love and religion; he suffers 
as well as triumphs. Felice is no Kymenhild, who invites her 
favorite to her bower that she may throw herself into his arms ; 
she is to be won only after years of ardent seeking and repeated 
rebuffs. The stage is full of dramatis personce. There is the 
maiden who plays the foil to Felice. Father and mother of Guy 
appear, playing natural, human parts. In addition, there is 
almost a host of dramatis personce who are the conventional 
knights and kings and giants of romance. A greater elaboration 
distinguishes the character-material of Guy from that of Bevis, 
Horn, and HaveloJc. 

Likewise more care and more time are devoted to the expo- 
sition of character and mental states. There are long soliloquies. 
Dialogue is sustained. There are definite statements from the 
author in regard to states of mind. At least one character — the 
maiden of Felice — is introduced to make feeling and attitude 
vivid by contrast. The action is very often significant of char- 
acter. In the attention to character this romance is allied to 

Matter of England Romances 47 

But Guy differs very wMely from Havelok in the field of 
human life from which character and emotion spring. Love is 
again of great interest — the love of knight for lady — an adoring, 
chivalrous love. This love conflicts with the relation of man and 
the church, or of man and God, and succumhs to the exalted 
desire for penitential sacrifice. Thus there is an elevation above 
the normal emotions of Horn, Bevis and Haveloh. There is here, 
again, the same or greater emphasis on love of comrades. There 
is a new touch of filial affection. There is a current of patriotism 
found in Havelok, but not in Horn and Bevis. Thus there is 
in Guy a broadening and heightening of character and feeling. 

What remains to be said is merely this. In these four 
romances there are striking differences and striking resemblances 
in the treatment of character and emotion. The differences seem 
to indicate great variation of type. Horn is the representative 
of an undeveloped, unsophisticated, warlike society, and might 
well be at base a metrical version of a popular tale which had 
absorbed romantic motives. Havelok is written for and about 
provincial, lowly or middle class Englishmen. Bevis is essen- 
tially a chanson de geste. Guy is a chanson de geste made over 
into a romance of chivalry. Yet in the very structure of three 
of these metrical stories is the exile-and-return motive, with the 
dramatis personoe which it implies. Corresponding^ dramatis 
personam appear in Guy, but belong less closely to the main 
structure of the romance. Nevertheless, this resemblance of the 
four romances in respect to dramatis personw and the structure 
which they imply should not be made too much of in searching 
for the conditions from which the tales originally sprang. If 
they once were very similar, they became dissimilar. At least 
Bevis and Guy were worked over if not created by Frenchmen 
and developed into metrical tales of widely different type. But 
in the English dress in which we are examining them there is 
no evidence that the English redactors felt very keenly the dis- 
tinction of types. Stock romantic material is found throughout, 
especially in Horn, in Bevis, and in Guy. There are the same 
stock dramatis personoe; there are the same stereot3rped ways of 

48 Greek 

expressing emotion; there are the* same stereotyped phrases in 
the mouths of dramatis personce, and in the mouths of the 
authors talking about the dramatis personam. At least the stereo- 
typed phrases are in a large measure the property of Englisli 
romance, and the freedom with which they are employed every- 
where seems to indicate that they were regarded as appropriate 
for any kind of story, that there was no distinction made between 
romantic and epic tale. What in France was intended for 
diverse audiences came in England into the hands of one set 
of minstrels reciting to one popular and undiscriminating 
audience, which welcomed a hodge-podge of narrative material 
that must have been very foreign to their natural interests. I 
must modify this statement by saying that in Haveloh we seem 
to have a truly popular hero, not entirely created in the image of 
crude or chivalrous knighthood. But he is the exception that 
proves the rule. It is certainly not in the dramatis persona: of 
English metrical romances that we are to look for a clear image 
of medieval English life. 

Herbert L. Creek. 
University of Illinois. 

The writer of this thesis was born at Yeoman, Indiana, 
January 21, 1879. ^^ attended the public schools of Car- 
roll county, Indiana, graduating from the Delphi High 
School in 1894. His college work was done in DePauw 
University and Butler College. From the latter insti- 
tution he was graduated in 1905, and he received the de- 
gree of Master of Arts in the same year. During the 
years 1907- 1908 he attended the University of Chicago; 
and during the years 1908- 19 10 he was a student at the 
University of Illinois. During the two years at the Uni- 
versity of Illinois he held a fellowship in English. His 
work in English at Butler College was taken under Pro- 
fessor W. D. How^e. At Chicago, he took courses with 
Professors Manly, Blackburn, Carpenter, and Wood; at 
Illinois, with Professors Greenough and Oliver, and Dr. 
H. S. V. Jones. This thesis was prepared under the direc- 
tion of Dr. Jones.