Malory’s Lancelot and the Politics of Worship

  • Ruth Lexton
Part of the Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)


Malory’s opening to A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake, the third tale in Vinaver’s edition of the Morte Darthur, reinforces the picture of successful kingship created by the victories of the Roman War by plac- ing Arthur at the heart of a court focused on knightly activity:

Sone aftir that kynge Arthure was com from Rome into Ingelonde, than all the knyghtys of the Rounde Table resorted unto the kynge and made many joustys and turnementes.

(Works, 253.1–4)


Round Table Local Society Fifteenth Century Legal Dispute Final Book 
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  1. 1.
    Further discussion of the tale’s opening can be found in the following: R. M. Lumiansky, “‘The Tale of Lancelot’: Prelude to Adultery,” in Malory’s Originality: A Critical Study of “Le Morte Darthur” ed. R. M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), 93; Kenneth Hodges, Forging Chivalric Communities in Malory’s “Le Morte Darthur”(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 72–73; D. S. Brewer, “Malory’s ‘Proving’ of Sir Launcelot,” in The Changing Face of Arthurian Romance: Essays on Arthurian Prose Romance in Memory of Cedric E. Pickford, Arthurian Studies 16, ed. Alison Adams, Armel H. Diverres, Karen Stern, and Kenneth Varty (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1986), 124–25.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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    Christopher McBride, “A Collocational Approach to Semantic Change: The Case of Worship and Honour in Malory and Spenser,” Language and Literature 7, no. 1 (1998): 9–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    Vinaver, introduction to Works, xxxii-xxxiii. Vinaver discusses Malory’s view of chivalry as a practical one, but suggests Arthur is responsible for making it a “useful discipline.” On honor as a social ideal and practical chivalry see also Brewer, introduction to The Morte Darthur: Parts Seven and Eight, 25; D. S. Brewer, “The Compulsions of Honour,” in From Arabye to Engelond: Medieval Studies in Honour of Mahmoud Manzalaoui on His 75th Birthday, ed. A. E. Christa Canitz and Gernot R. Wieland (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1999), 86–89; L. D. Benson, Malory’s “Morte” 151–52, 191–97; P. E. Tucker, “Chivalry in the Morte, ” in Essays on Malory, ed. J. A. W. Bennett (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 68–69; Beverly Kennedy, Knighthood in the “Morte Darthur” Arthurian Studies 11 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1985), 148; Lynch, Malory’s Book of Arms, 32–33.Google Scholar
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    Benson, Malory’s “Morte” 200. Quoted by Kim, Knight without the Sword, 17. Richmond, “Thomas Malory and the Pastons,” 195; Felicity Riddy, Sir Thomas Malory (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1987), 71–72, 113, 163–64.Google Scholar
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    G. A. Lester, Sir John Paston’s “Grete Boke”: A Descriptive Catalogue with an Introduction of British Library MS Lansdowne 285 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1984), 31–34. On the relationship between Paston’s “Grete Boke” (Lansdowne 285) and Astley’s manuscript (Pierpont Morgan 775).Google Scholar
  12. 35.
    D. Armstrong, Gender and the Chivalric Community, 70–83; Catherine Batt, Malory’s “Morte Darthur”: Remaking Arthurian Tradition (New York: Palgrave, 2002), 83–84; M. Martin, Vision and Gender, 51, 60.Google Scholar
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    Maurice Keen, Origins of the English Gentleman: Heraldry, Chivalry and Gentility in Medieval England c. 1300—c. 1500 (Stroud: Tempus, 2002), 36. Sir Ralph Grey’s sentence for treason in the Court of Chivalry in 1464 included that his coat of arms (though not his shield) should be reversed.Google Scholar

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© Ruth Lexton 2014

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  • Ruth Lexton

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