The Place of Homoerotic Motifs in the Medieval French Canon: Discontinuities and Displacements

  • Anna Kłosowska
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter analyzes selected fictional representations of same-sex themes, from the late twelfth to the late thirteenth century. It opens with false accusations of same-sex preference in two works associated with the literary patronage of Europe’s most powerful couple, Henry II Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine, in England in the second half of the twelfth century: Roman d’Enéas, a translatio of Virgil, and Marie de France’s Lanval. Both these texts have been discussed from the point of view of queer studies, notably by Christopher Baswell, Simon Gaunt, Noah K. Guynn, and David M. Halperin.1 Two other texts use a similar motif, false attribution of same-sex preference as an explanation for heterosexual indifference or a convenient excuse used to shield a man from unwanted attentions of a powerful woman: Walter Map’s De nugis curialium, a collection of courtly anecdotes in Latin also connected to Henry II’s court, and a lyric poem by a northern trouvère Conon de Bethune (died 1224).2 Other texts mentioned in this chapter date approximately from the time of the likely composition of Enéas, Lanval, and De nugis, to the end of Conon’s life: Aucassin et Nicolete, a text dated between 1175 and 1250; and the early–thirteenth–century Lancelot–Grail cycle. The latest text is the Roman de la Rose, written by Guillaume de Lorris ca. 1230 and later continued by Jean de Meun ca. 1275–80.3


Male Couple Grammatical Gender Love Story False Accusation French Text 
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© Anna Kłosowska 2005

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  • Anna Kłosowska

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