Sir Eglamour of Artois

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Sir Eglamour of Artois


For a summary of the romance and a full-text version see Harriet Hudson's online edition from the Middle English Texts Series.

While this romance resonates with the Constance tradition in certain respects—a tradition with many overtones of crusading ideology—Sir Eglamour primarily focuses on the trials and tribulations of two lovers and their son born out of wedlock. The background of the romance, particularly as it shifts to the Holy Land, however, is rich with allusions to crusade and Christian conquest.

Like Octavian, Eglamour involves a calumniated queen and her son forced into exile in the Levant; Christabelle’s father—because of her pregnancy out of wedlock— sets both her and her newborn son Degrebelle adrift in a boat shortly after the boy’s birth.  Degrebelle arrives in the Holy Land, where the King functionally adopts him. His mother, Christabelle, arrives in Egypt, where she taken in by her uncle.  Both of these rulers are Christian and, as is also the case in Octavian, their dominion over Israel and Egypt plays directly upon crusading aspirations of the later Middle Ages.  The fact that both territories are under (apparently stable) Christian rule in this romance suggests a world in which the Levant has been stabilized and settled by Christians; in this way, the text projects a "nostalgic and anticipatory" fantasy of crusading by gazing back to the era in which the Levant was controlled by Latin West, but forward to a time in which Christian recovery of such territory might be possible (Norako 15). And so, while the romance does not present a vision of active conquest as do many of the other romances studied in this project, it depicts a Levant already won and secured in Christ’s name, resonating as a result with the themes and concerns of more overt crusades romances such as Sir Isumbras or The King of Tars.
Bibliography

Manuscripts:

British Library MS Egerton 2862 (c. 1400), fols. 148r–179v.
Lincoln Cathedral MS 91, called the Thornton MS (c. 1440), fols. 138v–147r.
British Library MS Cotton Caligula A 2 (c. 1450), fols. 5b–13a.
Cambridge University Library MS Ff. 2.38 (c. 1460), fols. 71r–79v.
Bodleian Library MS Douce 261 (1564), fols. 26r–48v.
British Library MS Additional 27879, called the Percy Folio (c. 1650), pp. 296–313.
 

Early Printed Editions:

National Library of Scotland. Edinburgh: Chepman and Myllar, early 16th century.
Cambridge University Library. Inc. 5.J.1.2. London: Wynkyn de Worde, c. 1530.
Cambridge University Library. Syn 7.52.12. London: Richard Bankes, c. 1530.
Bodleian Library S. Selden d. 45(5). London: William Copland, mid-sixteenth century. 
London, British Library C, 21.C.59. London: John Walley, mid-sixteenth century.
 

Bibliography:

Norako, "Crusading Imaginary of Late Medieval England." Ph.D. Diss., University of Rochester. 2012.