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Thinking Medieval Romance$
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Katherine C. Little and Nicola McDonald

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795148.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 September 2021

Thinking through the English Crusading Romance

Thinking through the English Crusading Romance

Sir Gowther and the Baltic

(p.68) 4 Thinking through the English Crusading Romance
Thinking Medieval Romance

Lee Manion

Oxford University Press

Manion’s chapter explores how the short Middle English romance Sir Gowther (c.1400) reflects broadly upon issues in medieval crusade discourse. By redefining the poem as a crusading romance and by situating it in the context of English crusading in the Baltic region, particularly in pagan Lithuania, Manion demonstrates how the romance participates in cultural debates about the purpose, scope, and conduct of religious conflict while articulating alternative ideas or critical commentary. The protagonist’s conversion, use of a falchion, and marriage to the emperor’s daughter—all of which resonate with the historical conversion of Lithuania—address ongoing concerns about the defence of Christendom through the acquisition of new allies and more effective leadership. At the same time, Sir Gowther does not simply mirror history. Instead, it argues abstractly for the conversion, not extermination, of pagan unbelievers, and thus illustrates the romance genre’s general capacity to think through contested ideas.

Keywords:   crusading romance, Baltic, Sir Gowther, conversion, crusade discourse, Lithuania, falchion

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