Editors: George W. Tuma, Professor Emeritus of English, and Dinah Hazell, Independent Scholar
Hosted by the English Department, San Francisco State University



Sir Amadace

Thenne the knyght and the stuard fre
Thay casten there houe hit best myghte be,
        Bothe be ferre and nere.
The stuard sayd, ‘Sir, ye awe wele more
Thenne ye may of your londus rere,
        In faythe this sevyn yere.
Quoso may best, furste ye mun pray,
‘Abyde yo till anothir day’—
        And parte your cowrte in sere,
And putte away full mony of your men,
And hald butte on quere ye hald ten,
        Thagh thay be nevyr so dere.’ (1-12)1

Sir Amadace and his noble steward deliberated over the best course of action to take. The steward said, “Sir, you owe more than you can collect from your properties in seven years. You should first find who would be willing to wait for repayment of debt. Then divide your court, reduce your retinue, and keep but one man where you had ten, though they may be dear to you.”

Sir Amadace said, “I might economize a long time before all my debts were paid, and have nothing to spend. I would live here where I was born and am well known, and be held in scorn. Men who have been generous with their goods would become wary of me, or fear that they will not recover their goods, which would put me in disgrace. I will take another course, for hidden sorrow is better than seen. But, as you are dear to me, keep this between us and never let anyone know of my trouble. Mortgage my lands until all that I owe is paid, and I will leave the country until my debts are cleared and I have money to spend. But first, before I go, I will be more splendid than before, which you shall arrange. I will give rich gifts to both squires and knights and a share to poor men. There are some who would be glad to know of my troubles; there is no man so courteous who would escape being scorned if each had his tale told.” So he gave steeds, hawks and hounds to squires and knights, and a dole to the poor. By the time he left, he had only forty pounds left in his coffers.

Then Sir Amadace rode on his way as fast as he could. Through a forest, by a city, stood a chapel of stone and wood, in which he saw a light. He sent his knave to see what the light was. The servant did as he was told, but such a stench came from the chapel that he couldn’t stay. He stopped up his nose with his hood and looked in the window, and saw a bier with two candles and a very sorrowful woman sitting by it. He asked her no questions but returned to his lord and reported what he had seen: “Sir, I have been to the chapel and seen a strange sight; my heart is as heavy as lead. There is a bier with two candles, and a woman sitting alone; Lord, she is sorrowful! I have never smelled such a stink. For the horse on which I ride, I could stay no longer; I believe it would be my death.”

Sir Amadace then sent his squire to find out who the woman was. He looked in the window and saw what the knave had found, which he thought was a great pity. But the smell was so bad that he left. He said, “Good lord, with your leave I pray that you do not be angry with me, for you will not learn from me. There is a bier and two candles, with a lone woman sitting; she sighs and wrings her hands and cries to God constantly, asking how long she will be there with the rotting corpse, but she will not leave him until she dies, for his life was very dear to her.”

Sir Amadace spurred his horse, rode to the chapel door and hastily dismounted. As his men told him, there was the worst smell, but he entered and exchanged greetings with the woman. He asked her why she sat alone at night watching over the corpse.

She said, “Sir, I must sit by him, for he was my husband, and no one else will.” Sir Amadace said, “This greatly distresses me. You are both in danger from his lying so long on the bier. What kind of man was he in life?”

“He was a merchant of this city, with rich rents; every year he had three hundred pounds, yet he lies here for debt.” Sir Amadace asked how he had spent his wealth away. “Sir, he gave gifts to gentlemen and officers, to great lords who were his peers, and had great feasts. He fed poor men every day; as long as he had goods, for God’s sake he would refuse no one. Yet he did as a fool. He clothed more men at Yule than did a noble knight, and his hall was never bare, with richly set tables and plentiful food. If I disagreed, he said that all had come from God, and paid no attention to me. By then, he took on so much debt that I am ashamed to tell you how much he owed.

“And then death parted us and left me with all the care. When my neighbors heard he was sick, they came and asked me for their goods and took away all we ever owned: horses, cattle, sheep, and swine. I sold my dowry and gave them all, yet he still owed more. When I paid as much as I could, he still owed thirty pounds, due in full to a merchant of this city, who had been out of the country. When he returned and heard of my poor condition, he came to me as ferociously as a boar to forbid burial of the corpse and said, ‘Hounds should rip his body apart and gnaw on his bones.’ I have been sitting here for sixteen weeks watching over the corpse on the bier with brightly burning candles and will continue until death takes me too, by Mary most of might.” Sir Amadace asked her the name of the merchant who had caused all her disgrace, which she told him immediately.

“Madam,” he told her, “God, who is the help of all trouble, shall comfort you. Have a good night.” The knight leapt onto his horse, barely able to keep from weeping with regret over his own past deeds: “The man who lies in that chapel might well be of my kin, for I have wrought as he.” Then he told his packhorse driver the merchant’s name and said, “I will dine with him tonight, by God! Go and prepare a supper of rich, fine meats, and don’t spare the spices.2 As soon as he was told, the servant went to the merchant’s house and prepared for Sir Amadace’s arrival, who came riding, full of woe. He dismounted quickly, went to a brightly lighted chamber and changed clothes, then sent his squire to invite the merchant and his wife to supper, which they accepted. Supper was nearly ready, the tables were set, and the merchant sat at the head of the high table. Sir Amadace made good cheer, but his mind was on the corpse on the bier. He said:

“Tonight as I came down the street, I saw a sight I think on yet with distress. In a chapel by the way there lies a dead corpse on a bier, and a sorrowful woman sitting there.”

“Yes,” said the merchant. “God give him sore grace and all such wastrels, for he gives me grief as he lies there owing me thirty pounds that I will never get.”

Sir Amadace said, “Forgive, as God forgives the dead, and turn to a better way; you will have great reward. Think how God has ordained a better state for you than the dead man ever had. Let the corpse go to his grave.”

“By Jesus, Mary’s son,” swore the merchant, “that body will never be buried until I have my silver; when she is dead too, the hounds can chew on their bones in the field.” When Sir Amadace heard what the merchant had sworn, he called his squire and told him to fetch thirty pounds right away. The squire thought it a bad idea but had to obey his master. Sir Amadace paid the merchant the thirty pounds and bid the merchant be cheerful.

“Does he owe you any more?” asked Sir Amadace.

“No sir,” he said, “and may you fare well, for this is all he owed me.”

“He shall have his burial rite, as far as ten pounds will go,” said the knight. “I will arrange for reading and singing of the mass, and you and his neighbors shall see him receive a Christian burial. Go ask all the religious of this city to dine with me tomorrow, and see that their meal is prepared.”

Early in the morning all the bells in the city rang. All men of religion went in procession to the corpse, with many rich burgesses, and thirty priests sang. Sir Amadace made an offering at every mass and when the services were done, he invited everyone, great and small, to dine with him. The merchant went to a pillar, and men drew near him to hear what he would say.

“Sirs,” he said. “There has been a corpse upon a bier, you know why. A fully noble knight has come and paid me all the goods the corpse owed me, and sent for his coffers to give ten pounds for the interment. He has requested that I invite you all to dine.”3 They joined the feast and had meat and delicious drink; Sir Amadace would not sit down but served the poor, who were near to his heart.

When they had dined in the hall, Sir Amadace left, feigning cheerfulness. After he had eaten, his horse was saddled and brought to him, and his packhorse driver was sent ahead to prepare for the night’s lodging, but he had no money to pay. It is no wonder that Sir Amadace was sad, when all his goods were spent. But he showed that he was a gentleman born; he went to the greatest lord present, took his leave, and departed. When he left in this way, each man gave their opinion of him. Some said that he had acquired his wealth easily to let it go so lightly by spending it upon the dead man, and some made sarcastic remarks,4 without knowing of the knight’s condition or sacrifice. Thus may each man judge another without knowing the truth.

When Sir Amadace was six miles from the city, a cross marked the parting of the way in two. He said to his servants, “Good sirs, don’t be sad, but you must now take your leave, for you know the situation. I cannot have a company of men unless I have money to clothe and feed them.” Even the most hardhearted among them wept, but Sir Amadace told them, “Good sirs, don’t worry. You are so worthy that you may have masters everywhere. God may yet send me His mercy so that I may recover from this woe. You may yet see me merry, and you and many others will be very welcome to me.” Sir Amadace gave his men their horses and gear and the men departed, weeping.

When all his men had gone, the knight was left alone and woeful. His way through the forest lay straight, and he dismounted, mourning and moaning. When he thought of his broad lands, high castles and strong towers that were set in mortgage, and that he had left his country because of poverty, he repented his deeds:

“A man who has little wealth has no status. If I had three hundred pounds in rent, I spent two with that intent; such was my foresight. While I had a rich household I was considered a great lord. Now wise men sit in their homes while fools wander, as do I. Please, Jesus, as You died on the cross and shed Your precious blood for me and won the world, don’t ever let me be seen by anyone who knew me as a knight, unless I can confirm it again, and give me grace to summon all who willingly left me and all who have once done me good, or else I would rather be dead. For lack of wit, I am shamed; I have made foes of my friends, and for my kindness and good will, I am nearly destroyed. Lord, if You send me help, I will gladly spend on all who have need.”

As he went through the forest, he thought no man had heard him, for he had seen no one. So when a man rode by and spoke to him hastily, he was frightened. The man’s steed and clothes were milky white, and he was outfitted as a knight. Despite his mourning, Sir Amadace remembered his courtesy and greeted the man properly. The White Knight asked what man was making such mourning, and Sir Amadace said, “Not I!” But the knight told him to stop, for he had been there and heard him.

“You should not mourn this way, for God makes men both rise and fall, and his help is always near. Wealth is but a loan; sometimes men have it, sometimes not. You have many peers. Think on Him, who died on the cross to save mankind. For a man who gives himself to goodness, whether in noble company or bad, it will fall to him in some way. One who has always been kind may find a courteous man who will be of great help. Don’t regret what you have done, for He who shaped both moon and sun may reward you for all. Would you love him above all things who would bring you out of mourning and your heavy trouble? A king lives nearby who has a young fair daughter whom he loves more than anything. You are one of the most handsome knights who bears arms that I have ever seen. The king will only allow his daughter to wed the man who first proves himself best on the jousting field.

“You will go there as handsome as any earthly man; no one will match you. For the gifts you give, great men will serve you, so don’t spare. You will have no retinue, so say that the men who came with you were drowned in the sea. Be sure you are generous until you have attracted a good group, and I will pay the expense, even if there are ten thousand men. You will win great honor, field and forest, town and tower, and you will wed the lady. And I will come to you again, among your friends wherever you are. But before I leave, I will make an agreement with you that we will divide the goods you win equally.”

“If you have the might through God’s grace to comfort me,” Sir Amadace replied, “I will be loyal, and divide all between us.”

“Farewell, Sir Amadace!” said the White Knight. “If you work through God’s grace, it will be with you.” Sir Amadace wished him well and vowed, “You will find me, if I am able, to be as true as any man may be.”

Sir Amadace walked by the seashore and found so many broken ships that it was a marvel to see. Among the wreckage he found knights in fur-trimmed robes, white and grey steeds, and all kinds of riches. Chests and coffers full of precious gold had been cast up by the waters, and none had been looted. He dressed himself in golden cloth and rode a steed that was the best ever seen for jousting,5 and afterwards he won great honor. He was seen by the king and his daughter, so the king sent his squire and three knights to find out who the stranger was: “He will be welcome here if he comes in peace, and he will be well attended to.”

The messengers took Sir Amadace by the hand and asked him about himself: “Our lord, the king, has sent us here to learn about your coming if you will tell us. He says you will be well served; whatever you wish the king’s men to do, you have but to command them and they will obey.”

Sir Amadace told them, “I was a powerful prince and came here to ride at the tournament. I was well provisioned and had steeds and armor and well-arrayed knights, but a strong storm destroyed my ship, as you can see. I have plenty to spend but have lost all my men.” They led him to the castle gates and told the king Sir Amadace’s story.

The king welcomed him: “Be of great good cheer and thank Jesus for His grace. You were very fortunate to have survived such a storm. I have never admired a man mounted on a steed as much as I do you.” He sent out a royal cry throughout the city, calling men, knights, squires, yeomen and knaves into Sir Amadace’s service, each in their degree; 6 he had lost his men at sea and would give twice as much or more than other lords to those who followed him, and many gentlemen came to him quickly. By then the jousting began, and no lord had half as many men as Sir Amadace. He won much honor and field and forest, town and tower, castle and rich city;7 he won more than a hundred steeds, half of which he gave to the king but saved the rest for the White Knight.

After the joust, they went quickly to disarm, and the king thanked him many times. The king’s gracious daughter removed Sir Amadace’s gear, and they went happily to dine. When they saw each other, such a love grew between them that it lasted all their lives. After they had eaten, the king took Sir Amadace by the hand and said, “Sir, I have a daughter who is my heir. If she is pleasing to you and if you will take a wife, I vouchsafe her to you and give you a gift of half my kingdom while I live, and all after my death.” Thus Sir Amadace recovered from his woe and wedded the lovely lady, with a royal feast that lasted a fortnight.

For three years they lived in joy and had a fair son. Then one day before supper a fellow dressed in white like an angel came to the gate and spoke to the porter: “Go to your lord at once, and if he asks who I am or from where I come, tell him my suit is white. If you tell him no more of me, I believe your lord will see me and expect he will not hesitate.”

The porter went to the hall and as soon as he found his lord, he told him about the visitor. “He is the fairest knight I have ever seen. His steed and clothing are milky white. I expect you have seen him; it seems you have been fellows, but he comes alone.”

“Is he here, my own true friend? He is dear to me, as he well ought to be. I commend all my men to serve him hand and foot, just as you would do me.” Then he and his wife went to greet the White Knight. She was gracious and honored those whom her husband loved; may all such women be blessed. Since the White Knight had brought no servants, Sir Amadace offered to tend his steed and escort his friend into the hall, but the White Knight refused:

“To tell the truth, I will neither eat, drink nor stay. But divide all in half, give me my part and let me go, if you think me worthy.”

Noble Sir Amadace replied, “For God’s love, don’t speak this way. It grieves my heart. Our lands are so extensive that it would take over a fortnight to set them in order and divide them. Let us stay together as if we were brothers and that all were your own. All shall be at your will; God forbid you should waste it!” But the White Knight again declined:

“Enjoy your lands, castles and towers, none of which I want. Also your forests and clear waters far and near, and your rings of rich stone, your silver, and your gold, for they do me no good, by St John! But I will take half your child and half your wife.”

“Alas,” cried Sir Amadace, “that I ever married this woman or won worldly goods. For God’s sake! Do whatever you will with me and take all that I have, but save her life.”

Then the White Knight understood well and said, “By God, I want none of your worldly goods. Remember the agreement you made in the woods when you needed help, and the promise you made.” ”I know it was so,” replied Sir Amadace, “but to slay my lady seems a great sin.”

The lady understood the situation and was not distressed. She told him, “You shall keep your promise, by God! For the love of Him who died on the cross, you must keep your covenant, which was properly made, by dividing me in two. Since Christ wills it, divide me in half; you won me and I am yours. 8 God forbid that you refuse for my sake, and that I should be the reason you lose your honor!” The gentle lady stood still with no change of expression and said, “Bring me my young son, who was born of my body and lay very near my heart.”

The White Knight asked Sir Amadace which of the two he loved more, and he said, “My dear wife!”

“Since you love her most, you shall divide her first, evenly in two, her white sides apart.” When Sir Amadace saw it could not be avoided, he behaved as though he were mad. Everyone in the hall who stood by fell swooning. The table was brought on which she would be divided. The lady kissed her lord many times, then calmly lay down and drew her kerchief over her eyes. The White Knight told Sir Amadace that he should divide the goods, and he agreed and lifted his sword to strike the lady.

“Cease!” ordered the White Knight. “Now is the time for peace,” and he took up the lady and her child and gave them to Sir Amadace. He said, “I cannot blame you if you were distressed at slaying a lady who was willing to give her life to save your honor. Yet I was fully as glad when you gave everything you had to bury my bones when I lay in a chapel becoming food for dogs. First you paid my thirty pounds debt, then gave all you had left. I prayed to God to rescue you from your troubles after you had made yourself penniless to save my honor. Farewell now, my friend so dear, for my dwelling place is no longer here. But love this lady as long as you live, who meekly without protestation would fulfill your covenant.”

Then he went gliding as dew in the sun, and they knelt and thanked God and gracious Mary, for which they had good reason.9 They lived in joy and bliss until their dying day. There are few ladies now who would have so served their lord, but whoever serves God and Mary truly even if things sometimes go ill, God will show them the way to heaven.

Then Sir Amadace sent his messengers to his own country, to all the lands he held, forest, field and town, and repaid all the debts he owed. He sent for his steward and his other men, to whom he gave riches and who happily served him for life with courtly ceremony. After the king’s death, Sir Amadace became king and all the great lords of the land came to see him crowned with bright gold.

May Christ in Trinity bless and gladden this company, and hold His hand over us.10


Sir Amadace is driven by several motifs: the spendthrift knight, the rash oath, and the grateful dead, which provide the poet with material that both entertains and instructs. The spendthrift knight was a common topos, as seen earlier in Sir Launfal. Many, though not all of these characters become bankrupt from gift giving and lavish living which some scholars view critically, accusing the knights of prodigality. While the knights may be intemperate, they are best understood within the system of largesse; the giving of goods, lands and marriages by lords to retainers was an important part of the feudal socioeconomic system. It obviously demonstrated the wealth and power of the lord, but equally important was the welfare and status of the recipient and the service and loyalty he owed in return.

Most spendthrift knights included charity in their giving. Historically and literally, generosity to the poor was often motivated by reputation and ostentation, as when Sir Amadace gives to the poor when leaving his country. But much was sincere, as his serving the poor at the burial, having gained sympathy and humility from his own experience with poverty. As we will see in Ywain and Gawain, poverty, particularly of aristocrats, was used by poets to evaluate and promulgate personal and social values.

Sir Amadace is an example of the ways in which romance could participate in the social commentary voiced in a substantial body of literature that criticized contemporary culture. “Abuses of the Age,” complaint, protest, estate, satirical and other forms of literature attacked various targets, ranging from single groups, such as mendicants, to many or all classes. Merchants are usually included in works of wide social scope.

Occasionally, merchants are seen as victims, vulnerable to outlaws. The Havelok-poet tells how, in bygone days under the rule of King Athelwold, they were protected and could carry money and trade their wares in town and country without fear (45-58). But typically merchants are portrayed as dishonest, or at least slippery. Chaucer describes a fashionable, dignified “worthy” but crafty businessman who uses his “wit,” so that “There wiste no wight that he was in dette” (“No one knew whether he was in debt”; Pro 279-80). Others, like the Simonie-poet, are more caustic:

And sumtime were chapmen that treweliche bouhten and solde;
And nu is thilke assise broke, and nas noht yore holde.
Chaffare was woned to be meintened wid treuthe;
And nu is al turned to treccherie; and that is muchel reuthe
    To wite
That alle manere godnessse is thus adoun ismite. (A 355-60)

Once there were merchants who bought and sold honestly;
Now that practice is broken, and not held as before.
Trading used to be maintained with truth;
Now all is turned to treachery, and it is a great pity
    To know
That all manner of goodness is beaten down.

Langland tells merchants how to reform, including practicing fair marketing, supporting hospitals and aiding the sick, maintaining public works, helping maids marry or become nuns, feeding poor people and prisoners, sending boys to school or into crafts, and endowing religious orders (Piers Plowman B VII 25-32).

Honesty and charity were expected of merchants, many of whom were rich and powerful. In Sir Amadace, the dead merchant approaches that ideal, though to a disastrous extreme. His creditor is so greedy that he denies him one of the fundamental acts of corporal mercy. Burial was theoretically assured to all Christians but became entangled in the corruption of the age. Technically, though outmoded, the dead debtor became the creditor’s property, which allowed refusal of burial. Many clergy would bury only for a fee, which left the poor without Christian rights or dignity at the last.

Moderns may be surprised to read about debt in medieval literature, but it was as much a fixture of the economy then as now, among all classes from monarchy to peasantry. In Sir Amadace the knight and dead merchant have overspent their incomes; the former has lands to mortgage, while the merchant’s wife must surrender or sell all their possessions to clear their debt. As in some other romances, excessive charity causes their insolvency, but in reality reasons for incurring debt included standard needs such as fulfilling agreements and obligations, meeting living and business expenses, and making purchases and investments. Economic success or failure depended on personal situation as well as general economic trends, which depended largely on factors that impacted the agrarian economy, such as weather, livestock and crop conditions, and natural disasters.

The entire population was strained by the costs of war with France and Scotland. Some funding came from taxation, which trickled down and burdened the lower classes, and subsidies, which were not always successful. Other funds came from loans to the crown from sources such as the nobility, merchants, and banking houses, but loans were often not repaid. Edward III’s schemes for raising money often failed, his credit became exhausted, and he went bankrupt for a time.

At the other extreme, peasant life also involved credit. Loans and agreements were made to purchase land, equipment, livestock, and other necessities such as housing construction. Small sums might be obtained within the community, while larger amounts might come from parish clergy or urban sources willing to lend against future crops, and lands could be mortgaged (Dyer 180). A small-scale example is the debt owed by Robert Godrich to Hugh Albyn in Warboys in 1326, which the reeve had to collect at the direction of the village manorial court. The two rings of wheat and one ring of beans owed to Albyn had been “unjustly retained” by Godrich, who was fined three pence, and the grain was to be paid “day by day” until the debt was cleared (Raftis 95, 103).

Sir Amadace is able (with supernatural help) to free himself from debt, but not without facing a grisly dilemma that results from making a rash oath, a mistake made by many romance characters. He agrees to share his gains with the White Knight without fully understanding or clarifying the conditions. It does not occur to him that his family would be considered material goods. We see another rash promise of lesser consequence in King Edward and the Shepherd, when the king promises secrecy without knowledge of the extent of Adam’s poaching.

Another type of rash oath is made because the maker does not believe the oath can be kept and is therefore safe in making a risk-free promise. This is at the center of Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale in which Dorigen promises adulterous love to Aurelius if he can make the coastline “rokkes blake” (black rocks; 859) that imperil her husband’s life at sea disappear. Since she believes such a feat to be impossible, she makes her promise with no intention of keeping it. A similar, more serious situation is seen in Sir Launfal, when Gwennere impetuously pledges her eyes in the haughty belief that no woman could surpass her own beauty.

The obvious interpretation of the “rash oath” topos would seem cautionary: consider promises carefully before making them. But it can also be seen as a test of the concept of trouthe. In the literature, these oaths must always be kept, thus bolstering the retention of trust in one’s word and preserving threatened traditional values and relationships. Sir Amadace’s predicament poses a question debated by some medievals: must an oath be kept if it brings immoral consequences? Should an ill-conceived promise be honored? The idealist demands it, but the realist may have had a different opinion.11

The poem is dated to the late fourteenth century. This translation is based on Sir Amadace in Six Middle English Romances. Ed. and introd. Maldwyn Mills. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1973, which uses the Ireland-Blackburne MS. Additional lines and emendations for clarity are taken from Sir Amadas, based on Advocates Library MS 19.3.1, in Sir Amadace and the Avowing of Arthur. Ed. Christopher Brookhouse. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1968.


1 The beginning lines of the poem are missing in both extant manuscripts: the Ireland-Blackburne, used here, and the Advocates.

2 Wealthy citizens often had large homes that could accommodate visitors, and the kitchen might be outside, separate from the housing.

3 In the Advocates version, the merchant makes no speech; it is Sir Amadace who presents the invitation, speaking for the deceased merchant (284-86).

4 The text reads: “In gud tyme were he borne / That hade a peny him biforne” (343-44). This, like some other proverbial-like sayings are difficult to translate into modern English. Mills renders it as “That man is fortunate who keeps hold of his money” (178).

5 There were two types of horses, one for riding (a palfrey, referred to as “horse” in these translations) and one for battle, called a steed.

6 “Each in his degree” is a standard phrase that indicates the proper observance of social rank. The hierarchical structure extended throughout the culture and was demonstrated visibly on occasion. For example, entrance into an aristocratic hall and seating for a feast was based on rank, and the order of guild and civic officials in a public procession was arranged by degree.

7 This passage is somewhat challenging. “Honor” seems straightforward, but had multiple meanings. Mills glosses it as “possessions,” which seems odd to moderns, but technically all land belonged to the king and was held “in honor” by those upon whom he bestowed landholdings. The passage could also be read as winning honor (it is “renown” in the Royal MS), in addition to the possessions. Or, at a stretch, it might mean gaining honor or fame in those places.

8 Advocates: “I am yours and you are mine” (703).

9 The otherworldly White Knight’s identity as the dead merchant is kept until the narrative end, though the audience would likely have recognized the “grateful dead” folk motif earlier.

10 It was conventional to close romances with a blessing, and to swear oaths and make interjections within the poem in the name of religious figures.

11 For a discussion of these issues within the context of medieval legal theory and practice, see Chapter 8, “Rash Promises,” in Richard Firth Green’s A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1999).


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