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Leeds Medieval Studies, 1 (2021)

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ISSN 2754-4575 (Print)
ISSN 2754-4583 (Online)

Front matter


  • Inglewood Forest in Three Romances from the Northern Gawain Group
    Lindy Brady
    This article argues that Inglewood Forest exerts influence over the direction of events within a subset of texts in the Northern Gawain Group. Within three tales which begin with a hunt and end in adventure — Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle, The Awntyrs off Arthure, and The Avowyng of Arthur — planned hunts awaken the supernatural but supernatural portents are derailed by the aristocratic hunt, demonstrating the uncontrollability of the forest space. A strand of recent scholarship on the Northern Gawain Group has productively read these works as border romances, and this study builds on these conclusions by arguing that this regional point of view is also reflected in the narrative role of Inglewood Forest itself. The pattern present throughout the Northern Gawain Group in which the forest behaves contrary to the desires of the Arthurian court suggests a resistance to unchecked external control over the local landscape. Inglewood Forest counters the expectations of the Arthurian court, suggesting that there exists a crucial difference between entering the forest by desire and by invitation. This imbalance between the Arthurian court’s desires and the ways in which the forest responds to them functions as a regional critique of the royal forest in fifteenth-century England.
  • Using Decorative Elements to Refine the Relationship Between Two Ælfrician Manuscripts
    Emily Rae
    Items from Ælfric’s First Series of Catholic Homilies survive in thirty-four manuscripts and manuscript fragments. Because of their complex histories, and our incomplete modern knowledge of their production and dissemination, we still have only a limited understanding of the exact relationship between all copies of the First Series texts. In the past, scholarship has determined manuscript relationships based primarily on textual collation, rather than by considering physical aspects of the manuscripts themselves. This article demonstrates that attention to extra-linguistic aspects of these manuscripts in relation to decoration and mise-en-page can help to qualify our understanding of these relationships. I here look at two manuscripts containing primarily Ælfrician texts — Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 340 and 342, and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 162 — and argue that these two manuscripts are not only related, but perhaps very closely so, even sharing a direct exemplar-descendent relationship. I base my argument both on the texts shared between the manuscripts and aspects of the decoration that are uniquely similar between the two.
  • An Anglo-Norman Treatise on the Mass: An Edition
    Charles Roe
    This article examines the textual history of a treatise in Anglo-Norman French containing instructions for meditation during mass directed at the laity. The treatise has received scarce previous study. The article consists of a thorough study of the treatise’s textual history, which includes its frequent abridgement and excerption, and mistaken listing as three separate texts in Dean (720--22), as well as brief observations on the treatise’s language. It further provides a best-text edition of the only surviving version of the treatise in its unabbreviated form, corrected against the other manuscripts in clear cases of error.
  • The Meaning Behind Beowulf's Beheading of Grendel's Corpse
    Joseph St. John
    This article first gives an overview of the cultural background relevant to beheading, following which it discusses critical interpretations of this Beowulf episode. While the article considers the merits of these interpretations, it proposes to interpret Beowulf's act with reference to the narrative's expression of the Cain theme. It suggests that Beowulf's lack of apprehension in relation to Grendel's head as a sign of his victory against Grendel's mother points to his ignorance of its Cainite associations, which is a reason why the defeat of the monsters does not address the weaknesses of the societies Beowulf seeks to protect.
  • The Wicked Emperor and the Knight in the Bathtub: An Annotated Translation of the Middle High German Heinrich von Kempten by Konrad von Würzburg
    Alan V. Murray
    Heinrich von Kempten is a poem by Konrad von Würzburg, an author active in southern Germany in the middle decades of the thirteenth century. It raises interesting questions about knightly values, legal and feudal obligations and courtly behaviour, and is thus potentially interesting to anyone studying or teaching medieval society or chivalry. This publication presents an English translation of the poem (together with linguistic and historical notes) which is placed alongside the standard edition of the text published by Edward Schröder in 1930.