Thomas Bailey Petere Deo et Luctari pro Eo: The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne Though a relatively

short romance ± 715 lines, The Awntyrs has been difficult for scholars to understand and interpret. The difficulty often centers on the structural integrity of the poem. Most scholars now agree that it is a single construction, but can still disagree whether it is internally divided into a triptych or diptych. This division undoubtedly affects the interpretation. As Helen Philips notes, if divided into three fitts, as in the Ireland-Blackurne manuscript, then the central event becomes the ghost¶s encounter with Sir Gawain (Phillips 65-66). Nevertheless, this paper assumes the prevailing two-part division, which centers on the entire ghostly visitation to both Queen Guinevere and Sir Gawain. Placing the poem within the historical struggle between the secular and ecclesial realms, the ghost of Guinevere¶s mother shows a path of salvation not dominated by the ecclesial hierarchy ± charity and purgation. The medieval-era is termed the Age of Faith because of its preoccupation with the spiritual realm, even day-to-day activities centered on religious observance (e.g. time was measured by the monastic prayer schedule, certain saints¶ days were holidays, and quite often a peasant worked for the Church). A prevailing concern with many people was achieving salvation and lessening one¶s time in Purgatory. Those same concerns were found in all classes of society: knightly, clerical, and peasantry. Richard Kaeuper observed that the importance of piety in the lives of the ruling-class was manifested in the romance literature they read (Kaeuper 45-49). Their concern was not only for justification but also who controlled that pathway. The Investiture Controversy of the eleventh and twelfth centuries only settled one issue. The issues of clerical taxation, exemption from civil law, interference into secular affairs, etc. continued throughout the medieval period and into the early modern era. Coupled with the condemnation

Bailey 2 of their way of life by the clerical authorities (i.e. militia vs. malitia), knights were less inclined to cede anything to clerics. Within Medieval Romance Literature the hermit and Grail Quests were central to knightly salvation and piety divorced from clerical control. The predominant interpretation of the search for the Holy Grail is that it is a metaphor for salvation. The Grail had caught the Blood of Christ, which flowed from Jesus of Nazareth¶s side at the Crucifixion, and according to legend was entrusted to Joseph of Arimethea. As such, the Grail was considered the pre-eminent relic in Christendom; the only tangible item greater was the Eucharist ± understood to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ. In addition, knights had co-opted Joseph of Arimethea as one of their own, the first Christian Knight and the ancestor of Sir Galahad (Kaeuper 33). The role of the hermit was equally important. Kaeuper notes two principal reasons why ³[h]ermits are clearly the chivalric cleric of choice.´ The first is that they are associated with their environment; they perform ordinary activities such as building, farming, and provide spiritual guidance to the laity. In Romance literature they were particularly sympathetic to the trials of the errant knight ± the hermit was often a former knight returned from the Crusades. Secondly, hermits were on the fringes of clerical society and not often accepted by their more professional brethren (monks and priests). Both these characteristics highly endeared them to knights and as such were preferred counselors and helpers in chivalric literature (Kaeuper 57-62). Though the Grail Quests are the more obvious stories illustrating the knightly desire for salvation apart from clerical submission, other medieval literature can also support this desire. In The English Alliterative Revival and the Literature of Defeat, Charles Moorman noted differences that existed between the northern/western and southern/eastern branches of alliterative poetry in the fourteenth century. His conclusion was that it was a result of the

Bailey 3 growing dissatisfaction between the Court in Westminster and the outer lying territories of its domain. He argues that the growing uneasiness led to yearning for the simpler past of preNorman England. One of the defining characteristics of the northern-style was ³an aversion to, or at least an absence of, the militantly single-hearted Christian and/or political emphasis and tone´ (Moorman 89). Norman Christianity, as practiced by the ruling-elite of the fourteenth century, had brought the city-based religion of the continent with its emphasis on the centrality of the bishop and his assisting priests in the administration of grace and salvation to England. Celtic Christianity, which predominated in England prior to 1066, was clan-based and the role of the bishop was subservient to the clan chieftain. If Moorman is indeed correct, then Norman Christianity was part of the problem in allowing clerical control. It should not be surprising then that The Awntyrs sought to subvert the Church¶s stranglehold on the methods to salvation. The bellatores (knightly class) were uniquely aware that their profession, though necessary, bore sinful consequences. Not only was there the violation of the Decalogue to not kill, but also war necessarily brought rape, pillage, and pestilence ± all violations of God¶s Law and requiring absolution. Sir Gawain himself is poignantly aware of these sins, ³¶How shal we fare,¶ quod the freke, µthat fonden to fight And thus defoulen the folke on fele kinges londes, And riches over reymes withouten eny right, Wynnen worship in were thorgh wightnesse of hondes?¶´ (Awnytrs 261-264). The hunting-scene at the beginning of The Awntyrs establishes all that requires repentance. The ruling class was often admonished to be on the guard against vanity and covetousness (lands, possessions, and/or people). In The Awntyrs off Arthure, an Economy of Pain, Carl Martin remarks on the apparent glee on the part of the hunters for the torment they inflict on their prey and how it symbolizes the parasitic nature of nobility upon the peasantry ± consuming everything for their own benefit to the detriment of others (Martin 182).

Bailey 4 Despite the seemingly unfairness of the situation, it was understood as the right ordering of society. The knights needed more in order to protect the peasantry and the land from the usurpation of another. Though its necessity did not diminish the sinful aspect of the actions, especially when it was taken to excess. In The Awntyrs the hunt appears to have been taken past the point of necessity, exemplified by the deer ³That for drede of the deth droupes the do´ (Awntyrs 54). The splendor of the royal hunting partying is also unparallel. In eleven lines (1526) the dressing of Queen Guinevere is described in exquisite detail, implying the unmatched quality of her person. Yet the first description of the ghostly apparition is of her grotesque appearance and her first words to Guinevere are that ³I was of figure and face fairest of alle´ (137). The ghost is the embodiment of all the sins of Guinevere, Arthur, and all the barons and knights. She has a two-fold message, she speaks personally for the alleviation of her suffering, but she also speaks as a warning on behalf of her class (Martin 185; 187). The apparition of Guinevere¶s mother plays the central role in The Awntyrs. Her appearance, ³Bare was the body and blak to the bone, Al biclagged in clay, uncomly cladde; « Serkeled with serpents [that sate] to the sides²To tell the todes theron my tong ewer full tere,´ (Awntyrs 105-106; 120-121) has been noted by multiple scholars to be a reference to ghostly apparitions in the Trental of St. Gregory and examplas (a moral anecdote) in Gesta Romanarum (Shepherd 366-367; Klausner 309-317; Gates 20-24). The exemplas and the Trental deal with the necessity to release the visiteds¶ mothers from the suffering they are enduring in the afterlife. The details of the sin, which brought the mothers to Purgatory, vary slightly, but ultimately it was an adulterous relationship that produces one or more children that were or were not killed by the mother. This adulterous relationship is alluded to by Guinevere¶s mother, ³I ban the body me

Bailey 5 bare´ (Awntyrs 89) and ³I brak a solempne avowe, And no man wist hit but thowe´ (205-206). It can also be a condemnation of Guinevere¶s own adulterous relationships. Of particular interest is the major deviation from the source material. The sources and The Awntyrs agree that the method to free the suffering person from their purgative state is by offering Masses for their souls (10 Trentals in St. Gregory; several Mass in one exempla; a First Mass in another exempla; and 30 Trentals in The Awntyrs). The deviation occurs with the people receiving the apparition and additional requirements to release the suffering former-queen. In the source material it is either a priest or someone told to become a priest who receives the visitation and instruction on how to relieve the anguish of their mothers. Whereas The Awntyrs has two lay people ± Queen Guinevere and Sir Gawain ± receive the request. The priests were able to offer the Masses themselves, but in the case of The Awntyrs, Guinevere is not able to make the offering herself and instead pledges to do so, which she subsequently does at the end of the poem (Awntyrs 235-236; 703-708). The transition from a clerical to a lay audience should not be quickly looked over. The efficacy of Masses for the Dead is not disputed, but the priestly sons only need to do their regular duty, whereas Guinevere must perform an act of charity by requesting the Masses be said. When Guinevere asked the specter what prayers were the most advantageous to release the ghost from suffering, she replied not with a set of prayers but actions. She said, ³Mekeness and mercy²these arn the moost; And sithen have pité on the poer²that pleses Heven King; Sithen charité is chef, and then is chaste, And thene almessedede aure al [other] thing:´ (Awntyrs 250-253). Within the antagonistic paradigm of the bellatores and oratores each side argued for their superior state, in other words, whose actions are the more important. In the ecclesialdominant model (Trental of St Gregory and Gesta Romanorum) the priest is the only one capable

Bailey 6 of effecting release for the tormented soul ± he provides the key to the porta caeli. The ghost is debunking this assumption. In the Awntyrian model the priest is secondary ± only an instrument of Guinevere¶s. No choice is left to clerics in the writ sent by the queen; she simply commands ³al the religious « [and] Prestes with procession to pray were prest´ (Awntyrs 704-705). The causa prima for the release of Guinevere¶s mother from her present state is the actions of Guinevere because ³charité is chef.´ The ghost of Guinevere¶s mother describes her present condition in hellish terms, ³In bras and in brymston I bren as a belle. Was never wrought in this world a wofuller wight « With the wilde wormes that worche me wrake´ (188-189; 216). Martin notes that suffering endured by the ghost ³contain their own spiritual value´ (Martin 193). It was understood that people who died in a state of sin, depending on the type of sin, had the opportunity to make amends for their deeds in the afterlife, i.e. Purgatory. The ghost¶s requested aid of Guinevere is evidence that she has the possibility of enjoying heaven once her time in Purgatory ends. The aid of the living was understood to hasten the time spent there, but the suffering itself was also a means of purification. She, therefore, provides another model for salvation. The economy of pain is what captured the imagination of Sir Gawain. ³He internalizes the ghost¶s impassioned condition to perform his own intimate relation to bodily suffering´ (Martin 194). The purgative nature of combat was not new to The Awntyrs. Raluca Radulescu observed that in the trials undertaken by knights in romances, they were seen as the equivalent of the torments in Purgatory and the necessary penances for their sins (Radulescu 78). It is interesting to note that no request is made of Gawain. As a knight it seems to be implied that his way toward salvation is through the hardships of battle. As alluded to by Radulescu, knights on adventures did not seek out priests for absolution nor follow the penances given to them by a

Bailey 7 priest. Hermits were employed to give advice when needed however. In a further alignment with an anti-clerical bias, the question posed by Gawain to the ghost in lines 261-264 may be seen as a confession, she stands in the place of the hermit. If so, then it provides another example of the subterfuge against the prevailing clerical paradigm. The challenge by Sir Galeron in the second half of the lei provides the opportunity for Guinevere and Gawain to put into practice the deeds they need to perform in order to ensure the salvation of both Guinevere¶s mother and themselves. The battle described in lines 495-652 between Galeron and Gawain is particularly fierce. Both opponents appear to be evenly matched and cause grievous wounds to each other that required the later attention of surgeons (692-693). As a means to show the stripping of Galeron and Gawain¶s vanity, the battle provides the opportunity to ³beten down beriles and bourdures bright; « Fretted were in fine golde, thei failen in fight; Stones of iral they strenkel and strewe´ (587; 589-590). Symbolically these dazzling ornaments are shown to be useless in battle and thus are stripped by the purgative blows of the two knights. As the battle continued the lady of Sir Galeron approached Guinevere and begged that she plead to the king to put and end to the fight. ³For gref of Sir Gawayn, grisly was wound,´ (600) she swallows her pride, removes her crown, and kneels before King Arthur and performs her act of charity, humbly, to end the suffering and torment of the two souls. The ghost commanded that the dual path to deliverance was charity and redemptive suffering. In the tournament, however, two individuals take the actions separately: Gawain suffers and Guinevere performs charity. In the medieval world it was not necessary that it be the same individual to perform the required penance. When a sin was committed it was understood to create an imbalance that affected not only that person but all of society. So that when the sins became too great God punished people for their sins through droughts, plagues, wars, or other

Bailey 8 purgative devices. Often the imbalance was understood as being a debt that needed to be repaid either in this life or the next. It was not always required that the individual sinner do the penance prescribed for him or her. If wealthy enough they were able to hire someone else to do the penance. The important element for the medieval world was that satisfaction was made for the wrong committed. Therefore, in the tournament the fact that both charity and suffering occur are sufficient for the penance to have been fulfilled. The warning by Guinevere¶s mother provided an opportunity for the higher social class to look at the manner of their lives in order to conform it to Christian principles. She served as a reminder that death comes to all and that salvation needed to be continually sought after. In addition, the greater emphasis on the actions of Guinevere and Gawain highlight the greater role the individual plays in achieving redemption. Within the historical context of the High and Late Middle Ages, The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne can be seen as a popular way to enforce the growing desire for secular control in all spheres of life. The role of the oratores class was not discarded, but placed into an order that better appealed to a knightly rulers.

Bailey 9 Bibliography Allen, Rosamund. ³Place names in the µAwntyrs off Arthure.´ In Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field, edited by Bonnie Wheeler, 181-198. Cambridge: DS Brewer, 2004. Hanna III, Ralph. ³The Awntyrs off Arthure: An Interpretation.´ Modern Language Quarterly 31, No. 3 (September 1970): 275-297. Kaeuper, Richard. Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Knight, Stephen. ³Celticity and Christianity in Medieval Romance.´ In Christianity and Romance in Medieval England, edited by Rosalind Field, Phillipa Hardman, and Michelle Sweeney, 26-44. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010. Lowe, Virginia. ³Folklore as a Unifying Factor in The Antwyrs off Arthure.´ Folklore Forum 13, No. 2/3 (1980):199-223. Martin, Carl Grey. ³The Awntyrs off Arthure, an Economy of Pain.´ Modern Philology 108, No. 2 (November 2010): 177-198. Meister, Peter, ed. Arthurian Literature and Christianity. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999. Moorman, Charles. ³The English Alliterative Revival and the Literature of Defeat.´ The Chaucer Review 16, No. 1 (Summer 1981): 85-100. Phillips, Helen. ³The Ghost¶s Baptism in The Awntyrs off Arthure.´ Medium Aevum 58, No. 1 (1989): 49-58. ____________. ³The Awntyrs off Arthure: Structure and Meaning. A Reassessment.´ In Arthurian Literature XII, edited by James Carley and Felicity Riddy, 63-89. Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 1993. Radulescu, Raluca. ³How Christian is Chivalry?´ In Christianity and Romance in Medieval England, edited by Rosalind Field, Phillipa Hardman, and Michelle Sweeney, 69-83. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010. Shepherd, Stephen, ed. ³The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne.´ In Middle English Romance, 219-243. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. _______________. ³The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne.´ In Middle English Romance, edited by Stephen Shepherd, 365-377. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. Swanson, R.N. Religion and Devotion in Europe, c.1215-c.1515. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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Walking, Andrew. ³The Problem of µRondolesette Halle¶ in µThe Awntyrs off Arthure.¶´ Studies in Philology 100, No. 2 (Spring 2003): 105-122. Whetter, K.S. ³Subverting, Containing and Upholding Christianity in Medieval Romance.´ In Christianity and Romance in Medieval England, edited by Rosalind Field, Phillipa Hardman, and Michelle Sweeney, 102-120. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010.

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