Chivalric romance

Yvain fighting Gawain in order to regain the love of his lady Laudine. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion
Holger Danske, or Ogier the Dane, from the Matter of France
A knight rescues a lady from a dragon.

Type of prose and verse narrative that was popular in the noble courts of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe.

- Chivalric romance
Yvain fighting Gawain in order to regain the love of his lady Laudine. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion

61 related topics

Alpha

Konrad von Limpurg as a knight being armed by his lady in the Codex Manesse (early 14th century)

Chivalry

Informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220.

Informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220.

Konrad von Limpurg as a knight being armed by his lady in the Codex Manesse (early 14th century)
God Speed by English artist Edmund Leighton, 1900: depicting an armoured knight departing for war and leaving his beloved
Reconstruction of a Roman cavalryman (eques)
Knights of Christ by Jan van Eyck
Depiction of chivalric ideals in Romanticism (Stitching the Standard by Edmund Blair Leighton: the lady prepares for a knight to go to war)

The meaning of the term evolved over time into a broader sense, because in the Middle Ages the meaning of chevalier changed from the original concrete military meaning "status or fee associated with a military follower owning a war horse" or "a group of mounted knights" to the ideal of the Christian warrior ethos propagated in the romance genre, which was becoming popular during the 12th century, and the ideal of courtly love propagated in the contemporary Minnesang and related genres.

Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, first edition)

Don Quixote

Spanish epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

Spanish epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, first edition)
Illustration by Gustave Doré depicting the famous windmill scene
First editions of the first and second parts
Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.
Illustration to The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. Volume II.
Don Quixote on a 1951 1 Peseta banknote.
Don Quixote by Honoré Daumier (1868)
Don Quixote, his horse Rocinante and his squire Sancho Panza after an unsuccessful attack on a windmill. By Gustave Doré.
Illustration to Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (the edition translated by Charles Jarvis)
Don Quixote. Close up of Illustration.
Bronze statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, at the Plaza de España in Madrid.
Collage of the engravings of The Adventures of Don Quixote by Gustave Doré
Don Quixote goes mad from his reading of books of chivalry. Engraving by Gustave Doré.
Don Quichote And Sancho Panza by Louis Anquetin

The plot revolves around the adventures of a member of the lowest nobility, an hidalgo ("Son of Something") from La Mancha named Alonso Quijano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he either loses or pretends to have lost his mind in order to become a knight-errant (caballero errante) to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha (in modern-day Spanish, spelled Quijote).

A 14th-century Polish fresco at Siedlęcin Tower depicting Lancelot fighting the evil knight Turquine in a scene from the French Vulgate Cycle

Le Morte d'Arthur

15th-century Middle English prose reworking by Sir Thomas Malory of tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, along with their respective folklore.

15th-century Middle English prose reworking by Sir Thomas Malory of tales about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, along with their respective folklore.

A 14th-century Polish fresco at Siedlęcin Tower depicting Lancelot fighting the evil knight Turquine in a scene from the French Vulgate Cycle
A 14th-century "Round Table" at Winchester Castle, Malory's Camelot
The holy island of Mont-Saint-Michel where Arthur slays an evil giant in one of the only few supernatural elements of the Roman War story
"How Arthur by the mean of Merlin gat Excalibur his sword of the Lady of the Lake", illustration for Le Morte Darthur, J. M. Dent & Co., London (1893–1894), by Aubrey Beardsley
"How Sir Launcelot slew the knight Sir Peris de Forest Savage that did distress ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen." The Romance of King Arthur (1917), abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur by Alfred W. Pollard and illustrated by Arthur Rackham
"'Lady,' replied Sir Beaumains, 'a knight is little worth who may not bear with a damsel.'" Lancelot Speed's illustration for James Thomas Knowles' The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights (1912)
"The Holy Grail, covered with white silk, came into the hall." The Grail's miraculous sighting at the Round Table in William Henry Margetson's illustration for Legends of King Arthur and His Knights (1914)
Arthur's final voyage to Avalon in a 1912 illustration by Florence Harrison
Arthur being taken to Avalon in Alberto Sangorski's 1912 illustration for Tennyson's poem "Morte d'Arthur"
N. C. Wyeth's title page illustration for Sidney Lanier's The Boy's King Arthur (1917)
The two volumes of illustrated edition of Le Morte Darthur published by J. M. Dent in 1893, with vellucent binding by Cedric Chivers.

In addition to the vast Vulgate Cycle in its different variants, as well as the English poems Morte Arthur and Morte Arthure, Malory's other original source texts were identified as several French standalone chivalric romances, including Erec et Enide, L'âtre périlleux, Perlesvaus, and Yvain ou le Chevalier au Lion (or its English version, Ywain and Gawain), as well as John Hardyng's English Chronicle.

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him

King Arthur

Tapestry showing Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, wearing a coat of arms often attributed to him
Arthur defeats the Saxons in a 19th-century picture by John Cassell
"Arturus rex" (King Arthur), a 1493 illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle
A facsimile page of Y Gododdin, one of the most famous early Welsh texts featuring Arthur
Culhwch entering Arthur's court in the Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen. An illustration by Alfred Fredericks for a 1881 edition of the Mabinogion
King Arthur in a crude illustration from a 15th-century Welsh version of Historia Regum Britanniae
The Death of Arthur by John Garrick (1862), depicting a boat arriving to take the dying Arthur to Avalon after the Battle of Camlann
During the 12th century, Arthur's character began to be marginalised by the accretion of "Arthurian" side-stories such as that of Tristan and Iseult, here pictured in a painting by John William Waterhouse (1916)
The story of Arthur drawing the sword from a stone appeared in Robert de Boron's 13th-century Merlin. By Howard Pyle (1903)
The Round Table experiences a vision of the Holy Grail, an illumination by Évrard d'Espinques
Arthur receiving the later tradition's sword Excalibur in N. C. Wyeth's illustration for The Boy's King Arthur (1922), a modern edition of Thomas Malory's 1485 Le Morte d'Arthur
Merlin and Viviane in Gustave Doré's 1868 illustration for Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King
King Arthur (holding Excalibur) and Patsy in Spamalot, a stage musical adaptation of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail

King Arthur (Brenin Arthur, Arthur Gernow, Roue Arzhur) was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

Orlando Furioso title page, Valgrisi Edition, 1558

Orlando Furioso

Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto which has exerted a wide influence on later culture.

Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto which has exerted a wide influence on later culture.

Orlando Furioso title page, Valgrisi Edition, 1558
Ruggiero Rescuing Angelica by Gustave Doré
Title page of the third edition of John Harington's translation of Orlando Furioso, 1634. The first edition was 1591
Page from 1565 edition of Orlando Furioso by Francesco Franceschi.
Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre, from Canto XVII, by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1624
Marphise by Eugène Delacroix, 1852 (Walters Art Museum)
Orlando Furioso, 1551

The story is also a chivalric romance which stemmed from a tradition beginning in the late Middle Ages and continuing in popularity in the 16th century and well into the 17th.

Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things, painting Sophie Gengembre Anderson

Emaré

Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things, painting Sophie Gengembre Anderson

Emaré is a Middle English Breton lai, a form of mediaeval romance poem, told in 1035 lines.

A 14th century depiction of the 13th century German knight Hartmann von Aue, from the Codex Manesse.

Knight

Person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.

Person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.

A 14th century depiction of the 13th century German knight Hartmann von Aue, from the Codex Manesse.
A Norman knight slaying Harold Godwinson (Bayeux tapestry, c. 1070). The rank of knight developed in the 12th century from the mounted warriors of the 10th and 11th centuries.
The battle between the Turks and Christian knights during the Ottoman wars in Europe
David I of Scotland knighting a squire
The miles Christianus allegory (mid-13th century), showing a knight armed with virtues and facing the vices in mortal combat. The parts of his armour are identified with Christian virtues, thus correlating essential military equipment with the religious values of chivalry: 
The helmet is spes futuri gaudii (hope of future bliss), the shield (here the shield of the Trinity) is fides (faith), the armour is caritas (charity), the lance is perseverantia (perseverance), the sword is verbum Dei (the word of God), the banner is regni celestis desiderium (desire for the kingdom of heaven), the horse is bona voluntas (good will), the saddle is Christiana religio (Christian religion), the saddlecloth is humilitas (humility), the reins are discretio (discretion), the spurs are disciplina (discipline), the stirrups are propositum boni operis (proposition of good work), and the horse's four hooves are delectatio, consensus, bonum opus, consuetudo (delight, consent, good work, and exercise).
Tournament from the Codex Manesse, depicting the mêlée
Elements of a harness of the late style of Gothic plate armour that was a popular style in the mid 15th to early 16th century (depiction made in the 18th century)
Page from King René's Tournament Book (BnF Ms Fr 2695)
The Battle of Pavia in 1525. Landsknecht mercenaries with arquebus.
Fortified house – a family seat of a knight (Schloss Hart by the Harter Graben near Kindberg, Austria)
The Battle of Grunwald between Poland-Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights in 1410
Pippo Spano, the member of the Order of the Dragon
The English fighting the French knights at the Battle of Crécy in 1346
Miniature from Jean Froissart Chronicles depicting the Battle of Montiel (Castilian Civil War, in the Hundred Years' War)
A modern artistic rendition of a chevalière of the Late Middle Ages.
A battle of the Reconquista from the Cantigas de Santa Maria
100px
100px

Knights and the ideals of knighthood featured largely in medieval and Renaissance literature, and have secured a permanent place in literary romance.

First page of only surviving manuscript, c. 14th century

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

First page of only surviving manuscript, c. 14th century
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
The legendary Irish figure Cúchulainn faced a trial similar to Gawain's (Cúchulain Slays the Hound of Culain by Stephen Reid, 1904).
Knights of Gawain's time were tested in their ability to balance the male-oriented chivalric code with the female-oriented rules of courtly love. (God Speed! – Edmund Blair Leighton 1900)
In the 15th-century Saint Wolfgang and the Devil by Michael Pacher, the Devil is green. Poetic contemporaries such as Chaucer also drew connections between the colour green and the devil, leading scholars to draw similar connections in readings of the Green Knight.
Another famous Arthurian woman, The Lady of Shalott, with a medieval girdle around her waist (John William Waterhouse, 1888)
Gawain's Shield, with the endless pentagram in gold on a red background
Gawain represented the perfect knight, as a fighter, a lover, and a religious devotee. (The Vigil by John Pettie, 1884)
Scholars have pointed out parallels between the girdle Bertilak's wife offers Gawain, and the fruit Eve offered to Adam in the Biblical Garden of Eden. (Adam and Eve Lucas Cranach, ca. 1513)
Lady Bertilak at Gawain's bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Lud's Church

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century chivalric romance in Middle English.

The eight phases of The Song of Roland in one picture.

Chanson de geste

Medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature.

Medieval narrative, a type of epic poem that appears at the dawn of French literature.

The eight phases of The Song of Roland in one picture.

The earliest known poems of this genre date from the late 11th and early 12th centuries, shortly before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, and the earliest verse romances.

Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys, 1864. "Here she stands in front of a loom on which she has woven an enchanted robe, designed to consume the body of King Arthur by fire. Her appearance with her loose hair, abandoned gestures and draped leopard skin suggests a dangerous and bestial female sexuality. The green robe that Morgan is depicted wearing is actually a kimono."

Morgan le Fay

Spyrys), is a powerful and ambiguous enchantress from the legend of King Arthur, in which most often she and he are siblings.

Spyrys), is a powerful and ambiguous enchantress from the legend of King Arthur, in which most often she and he are siblings.

Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys, 1864. "Here she stands in front of a loom on which she has woven an enchanted robe, designed to consume the body of King Arthur by fire. Her appearance with her loose hair, abandoned gestures and draped leopard skin suggests a dangerous and bestial female sexuality. The green robe that Morgan is depicted wearing is actually a kimono."
Fata Morgana (Italian for "Morgan the Fairy" ) by Giambologna (c. 1574)
Morgan with Lancelot under an apple tree in a Siedlęcin Tower fresco (early 14th century)
Morgan le Fay by Edward Burne-Jones (1862)
Henry Fuseli's Prince Arthur and the Fairy Queen (c. 1788)
Frank William Warwick's Voyage of King Arthur and Morgan le Fay to the Isle of Avalon (1888)
Morgan Le Fay by John R. Spencer Stanhope (1880)
Morgan discovers her unfaithful lover with another lady within the Vale of No Return, an illustration for the Vulgate Lancelot du Lac (c. 1480)
William Henry Margetson's illustration for The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights (1908)
"She was known to have studied magic while she was being brought up in the nunnery."
Queen Morgan le Fay, Beatrice Clay's illustration from Stories of King Arthur and the Round Table (1905)
"There was a time when great was her enmity towards King Arthur, so that she plotted his ruin not once only nor twice; and that is a strange thing, for it is said that she herself was the kinswoman of the King."
Morgan le Fay Casts Away Excalibur's Scabbard, H. J. Ford's illustration for Andrew Lang's Tales of King Arthur and the Round Table (1902)
Howard Pyle's illustration from The Story of the Champions of the Round Table (1905)
"She was clad in all the glory at her command, and her appearance was so shining and radiant that when she came into that room Sir Launcelot knew not whether it was a vision his eyes beheld or whether she was a creature of flesh and blood."
"How Morgain granted Lancelot a leave from her prison to conquer Dolereuse Gard." (Lancelot en prose c. 1494 or later)
How Morgan le Fay Gave a Shield to Sir Tristram by Aubrey Beardsley (1870)
A detail of La Mort d'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) by James Archer (1860)
Morgan and Accolon in Eric Pape's illustration for Madison Cawein's poem "Accolon of Gaul" (1907).
"With haughty, wicked eyes and lovely face, Studied him steadily a little space."
Howard Pyle's illustration from The Story of the Grail and the Passing of King Arthur (1909)
"And Sir Bedivere stood upon the shore and looked upon the face of King Arthur as it lay within the lap of Queen Morgana, and he beheld that the face of King Arthur was white like to the ashes of wood, wherefore he wist that he was dead."
Morte D'Arthur by Daniel Maclise (1857)
Howard Pyle's illustration from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)
How the Fairies Came to See Ogier the Dane by H.J. Ford (1921)
"And, in tones more musical than mortals often hear, she sang a sweet lullaby, a song of fairyland and of the island of Avalon, where the souls of heroes dwell."
Beatrice Clay, Morgan le Fay with Excalibur (1905)
Fata Morgana; Nude Study by John Macallan Swan (1905)
Morgana and Orlando as painted by George Frederic Watts (1865)

Therein, and in the early chivalric romances by Chrétien de Troyes ( c. undefined 1160–1191) and others, Morgan's chief role is that of a great healer.