Masculine identity and the rustics of romance in chrétien’s erec and yvain

Michael Ovens

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2 Citations (Web of Science)


© 2015, Brepols Publishers. All rights reserved. In his interwoven representations of a dwarf, a peasant, and a giant in the romances of Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion and Erec et Enide, Chrétien de Troyes indicates the existence of a knightly anxiety over the social station of knighthood with respect to its common-born inferiors. The coherence of this class of knighthood was predicated on a distinction between nobility and servility, a distinction threatened by the upward mobility of an emerging common-born mercantile class in the twelfth century. With knights unable to respond directly on account of their vows to protect their social inferiors, this unresolved threat of existential dissolution produced in Chrétien’s works a sense of anxiety surrounding literary representations of characters of imputed common birth. The defeat of these common-born antagonists by knightly protagonists offered noble audiences a cathartic release through the affirmation of the social distinctiveness of knighthood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-66
Number of pages22
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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