Adultery and Killing in La Mort le roi Artu



Insofar as adultery is considered wrongful, in medieval texts, it is often because it is connected in some way with an offence against property. This is either because of the importance laid on legitimate inheritance (which in turn requires wives to be faithful to their husbands), or because of the tendency to see women as themselves a form of property. In La Mort le roi Artu (The Death of King Arthur), however, adultery is presented in relation not to property but to the taking of life. How and why this is so is what this chapter will explore.


Moral Judgement Ethical Significance Single Combat Medieval Text Scarlet Letter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Quotations are in my own translation from La Mort le roi Artu, ed. Jean Frappier (Geneva: Droz, 1964), cited by paragraph and line number. An English translation, by James Cable, The Death of King Arthur is available in Penguin Classics (Harmondsworth, 1971).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Amnesia and Remembrance in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Paragraph, 13 (1990), 132–46, p. 135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 7.
    R.H. Bloch, ‘The Death of King Arthur and the Waning of the Feudal Age’, Orbis Litterarum, 29 (1974), 291–305, p. 292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 9.
    Karen Pratt, ‘La Mort le roi Artu as Tragedy’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 30 (1991), 81–109, p. 96; cf. p. 97, where her phrase ‘the accidental killing of Gaheriet and Gawain’s démesure’ implies the same judgement on the second trial.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 12.
    See Sarah Kay, ‘Motherhood. The Case of the Epic Family Romance’, in Shifts and Transpositions in Medieval Narrative. A Festschrift for Dr Elspeth Kennedy, ed. Karen Pratt (Cambridge: Brewer, 1994), pp. 23–36, p. 33.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Charles Méla, ‘Life in La Mort le roi Artu’, in The Passing of Arthur. New Essays in Arthurian Tradition, ed. Christopher Baswell and William Sharpe (New York and London: Garland, 1988), 5–14, p. 10.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations