1.The Romaunt of the Rose and Le Roman de la Rose: A Parallel Text
Edition, ed. Ronald Sutherland (Oxford, 1967), ll. 3698-703. The translation is that of
Harold W. Robbins (New York, 1962), p. 80.
2. Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction (London, 1991), p. 30. The
whole of Eagleton's book stands as a testament to the difficulty of comprehending the concept
"ideology" and the importance of trying nevertheless to do so. This one-line definition is a clear
and useful starting point for the argument of this paper, but it cannot comprehend the complexity
of the concept, a complexity that the paper tries to address.
3. Sutherland, ll. 1928-31; Robbins, p. 39. The Middle English Romaunt
expands this passage (Sutherland, ll. 1983-92):
I loue the bothe and preise,
Sens that thyn answer dothe me ese,
For thou answered so curtesly.
For nowe I wote wel vtterly
That thou arte gentyl, by the speche,
For though a man ferre wolde seche,
He shulde not fynden, in certayne,
No suche answere of no vilayne.
For suche a worde ne myght nought
Isse out of a vylayns thought.
4. Sutherland, ll. 2078-79. Johan Huizinga makes the point that while the
Romance of the Rose "does not deny the ideal of courtesy," what stand opposed to hatred,
villainy, felony, and other vices are not the ethical virtues supposedly fostered by the old ideal of
courtly love but rather "an aristocratic character" which is to be cynically used to conquer the
woman, The Waning of the Middle Ages (1924; rpt. New York, 1949), p. 114-15. He
refers primarily to Jean's continuation, but the facileness of Guillaume probably implies this view
5. Sutherland, ll. 2090-98.
6. "Danger" is at once a vilein and an aspect of the Beloved. There may be
much to explore here. It is one of the more mysterious and difficult figures in the allegory of the
7. C. Stephen Jaeger, The Origin of Courtliness: Civilizing Trends and the
Formation of Courtly Ideals, 939-1210 (Philadelphia, 1985), p. 9.
8. Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven, 1984).
9. "Desire in Language: Andreas Capellanus and the Controversy of Courtly
Love," in Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology & History, ed. David Aers (Brighton,
1986), pp. 16, 17.
10. Investigation of the legitimacy of psychoanalytic analogies for the analysis of
medieval cultural formations, whether institutional or quasi-institutional, must be deferred. It
seems to be a fundamental assumption for most scholars who study ideology, and its impact is
apparent in this paper as well.
11. "The Social Function of Middle English Romance," in Medieval
Literature, pp. 99-122. Knight neglects to discuss the audience of English romance, which is
unfortunate, because if they are directed, as has been stated so often, toward an emergent
bourgeois reader, then using them as evidence of courtly or chivalric ideology becomes
problematical or at least complicated. In fact, various recent commentators have begun to
question the assumption that the audience of most of the Middle English romances was bourgeois.
A. G. S. Edwards stresses the insecure grounds for making any sweeping assumptions about
romance audience or audiences in "Middle English Romance: The Limits of Editing, the Limits of
Criticism," in Medieval Literature: Texts and Interpretation, ed. Tim William Machan
(Binghamton, 1991), pp. 95-96. Derek Pearsall argues for a wide variety of audiences for these
works, including audiences composed of the gentry, in "Middle English Romance and Its
Audiences," in Historical and Editorial Studies in Medieval and Early Modern English, for
Johan Gerritsen, ed. Mary-Jo Arn and Hanneke Wirtjes (Groningen, 1985), pp. 37-47. John
Simon offers a number of reasons why we might consider the audience of what have often been
described as "popular" romances to have actually been aristocratic; "Northern Octavian and the
Question of Class," in Romance in Medieval England, ed. Maldwyn Mills, Jennifer
Fellows, and Carol Meale (Cambridge, England, 1991), pp. 105-11.
12.Octovian, ed. Frances McSparren, EETS OS 289 (London, 1986). More
precisely the text is known as the "northern" Octovian, which exists in two medieval
versions, the earlier in Lincoln, Dean and Chapter Library, MS 91 (the Lincoln Thornton MS) and
the later in CUL MS Ff. 2.38. The significantly different "southern" version, extant in a single
manuscript, Cotton Caligula A.II, has also been edited by McSparren, Octovian
Imperator, Middle English Texts 11 (Heidelberg, 1979). Unfortunately two folios lost from
the Thornton MS contained the two episodes treated here, so the quotations are from the CUL
13. See McSparren's note to l. 576 of the northern version, Octavian, p.
14. McSparren, ed., Octovian Imperator, p. 46.
15. Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford, 1977), pp. 124-27.
16. Pearsall insisted on a bourgeois audience for most Middle English romances in
"The Development of Middle English Romance," Mediaeval Studies 27
(1965), 91-116, reprinted in Studies in Medieval English
Romances: Some New Approaches, ed. Derek Brewer (Cambridge, England, 1988), pp.
11-35. However, see his later discussion referred to in n. 11.
17. John Simon's analysis of the "Clement" episodes in the northern
Octovian are not dissimilar from that found in this paper, but he assesses Clement's
characterization quite differently. Even when Clement performs what Simon calls "heroic" acts
towards the end of the romance, their burlesque quality would be hard to miss, and his "heroism,"
therefore, is thoroughly undercut. Simon does not deal with Clement's surname.
18. All subsequent quotations from the northern Octovian are from the Thornton
version. Schaweberecke is a form of the word "scabbard."
19. Simon likewise sees ruling class anxieties expressed in this text, although he
perceives these feelings as a general response to the cultural and political crisis in late fourteenth
century England; his is certainly a defensible reading.
20. In her note to l. 122 of the southern version, McSparren suggests mistranslation
as the possible source of the change from French garçon to the more specific and
socially lower cook's knave. At one point in this episode in the French text that must be close to
the source of the English, the twin children are called quistrons. This word's primary
meaning in Old French was "scullion, kitchen boy," and its Middle English reflex, with the same
meaning, occurs in the southern text at l. 154. Perhaps, therefore, a translator mistook the word
used of the children as a reference to the garçon. However, even if this ingenious
explanation is correct, it remains clear that the degrading spectacle of an empress and a scullion in
bed together must have caught the imagination of the English redactor.
21. While the knave's head comes off in all the versions of the English
Octovian, there are some interesting variants. The northern version in CUL Ff.2.38 has
The herre in hys honde he nome:/ The hede smote of thare ./ He caste hyt ageyne into the
bedd; the early printed version of the romance in Huntington Library MS 14615 resembles the
CUL version. The Thornton is more condensed and more specific as to where the severed head
ends up: þe hede vp by þe hare he hente / And caste it till hir thare (ll.
176-77). The southern version is more grisly and more detailed. After severing the head, the
emperor drew þat hedde . . . Into þe lady barm, that is, "placed (?tossed) that
head into the lady's lap," and then he suggests Pley þe with at ball (ll. 209-11).
Given the southern variant, one wonders if the colorless thare in the northern versions
might once have been share ' "pubic region, groin."
22.Vox Clamantis is found in The Complete Works of John Gower,
ed. G.C. Macaulay , vol. 4 (Oxford, 1899-1902). It has been translated and annotated in The
Major Latin Works of John Gower, trans. Eric W. Stockton (Seattle, 1962).
23. Richard Firth Green, "John Ball's Letters: Literary History and Historical
Literature," in Chaucer's England: Literature in Historical Context, ed. Barbara A.
Hanawalt, Medieval Studies at Minnesota 4 (Minneapolis,
1992), pp. 176-200. Aers voices his objections to Green's views in his review of this
Volume in Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 15 (1993), 213. For a
assessment of Green's essay, see J. R. Maddicott's review of the same Volume in Medium
’vum 52 (1993), 331-32.
24. Gower, Latin Works, ed. Stockton, pp. 94-95.
25. Bartlett Jere Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases
(Cambridge, England, 1968). There are a number of relevant proverbs gathered alphabetically
under churl; see also S158, T188, and V37.
26.The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, ed. Eugene Vinaver, 2 vols.
(Oxford, 1948), 2:712.
27. Lydgate's Fall of Princes, ed. Henry Bergen, Part 3, EETS OS 123
(Oxford, 1924), Book 6, ll. 778-80.
28.Fall of Princes, Part 2, EETS OS 122 (Oxford, 1924), Book 4, ll.
29.The Riverside Chaucer, 3rd ed., gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Boston,
1987): "Knight" A1761, "Merchant" E1986, "Squire" F479, "Legend" F503 (G191). A
Chaucer Glossary, eds. Norman Davis, Douglas Gray, Patricia Ingham, and Anne Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford, 1979; rpt.1983).
30.Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle, ed. Auvo Kurvinen, Annales
Academi‘ Scientarium Fennicæ Ser.B, 71, 2 (Helsinki, 1951). There are two versions of
the poem, although they are frequently regarded as two separate works in bibliographical surveys.
The only medieval version is found in MS Porkington 10; the other is in the Percy Folio, BL
Additional 27879. Using traditional linguistic analysis, Kurvinen dates the "composition" of the
romance to the second half of the fourteenth century (pp. 52-53). The word carl derives
from the Scandinavian cognate of OE ceorl it refers to men of low estate.
31. The account of this test does not survive in the Porkington version, where the
Carl lamely undergoes a self-conversion in the morning. Kurvinen believes that the beheading of
the Carl is essential to the story, and its absence from Porkington is one of the main proofs that
the Percy version does not derive from the earlier extant one (p. 55).
B32. In fact the name is Welsh and the syllabic division
etymologically falls between
the r and the first l; the first element derives from the Welsh word for castle while
the origin of the second element is obscure. See A.M. Armstrong, A. Mawer, F.M. Stenton, and
Bruce Dickins, The Place-Names of Cumberland, Part 1, EPNS 20
1950), pp. 41-42, and A.H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements, Part 1, EPNS 25
(Cambridge, England,1956), p. 76. Kurvinen treats extensively possible analogues for the various
episodes in the poem (pp. 80-111), but there is no known source.
33. Stephen Knight, "Social Function," p. 105, describes the pattern as follows:
"The 'fair unknown' is at first and in French a threatening figure, uncouth but strong and
determined; he learns to be courteous as well as powerful, wins a lady, property and honour . . . .
Somewhere along the way he becomes known, and it is revealed that he is not the incursionary
thug that his
presentation has implied, but in fact a member
of the aristocracy. A crucial point is that the later the revelation comes, and the more abuse and
anxiety aroused by the figure along the way, the stronger is the realization of social advancement
through martial force. Through the 'fair unknown' there rises to consciousness the reality of social
arrivisme in its threatening reality; but the threat is also culturally resolved."