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The Medieval Siege

Malcolm Hebron

Published in print July 1997 | ISBN: 9780198186205
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191674440 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186205.001.0001

Series: Oxford English Monographs

The Medieval Siege

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Sieges were a popular subject in medieval romances. Tales of the Crusades featured champions of Christianity capturing towns in the Holy Land or mounting heroic defences. The fall of a great city such as Troy, Thebes, or Jerusalem provided opportunities for the recreation of ancient chivalry and for reflections on historical change. Images of the siege in romances also point to other forms, such as drama and love allegory, where it represents the trial of the soul or the pursuit of the beloved. This book is the first full-length study of this important theme in medieval literature. Close reading of selected Middle English shows how writers used descriptions of sieges to explore such subjects as military strategy, heroism, chivalry, and attitudes to the past. This study also draws on a wide range of writings in several languages, to set the romances in a broad context. When they are seen against a background of military manuals, patristic commentary, pageantry, and love poetry, the sieges of romance take on deeper resonances of meaning and reflect the vitality of the theme in medieval culture as a whole.

Keywords: medieval culture; siege; romance; military strategy; heroism; chivalry; Crusades; medieval literature; Middle English

Book.  200 pages. 

Subjects: literary studies (early and medieval)

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Table of Contents

Introductionin The Medieval Siege

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Allegorical Siegesin The Medieval Siege

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