Romancing the East: Greeks and Saracens in <i>Guy of Warwick</i>

Rebecca Wilcox

in Pulp Fictions of Medieval England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2004 | ISBN: 9780719063183
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700563 | DOI:
Romancing the East: Greeks and Saracens in Guy of Warwick

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The fourteenth-century popular romance Guy of Warwick engages contemporary socio-political concerns in critical and transformative ways. Guy's fantastic reworking of England's past through its titular hero both recognises England's historic culpabilities in its interactions with other countries and transforms these culpabilities into redeeming alternative possibilities for remembering the past and for performing the future. This chapter argues that at the centre of each of Guy's two cycles, the hero finds himself on a formative adventure in a fantastically imagined East; Guy devotes so much narrative attention to the East because the romance responds to and reimagines the West's conflicts with the East during the Crusades. Guy simultaneously asserts Latin dominance in both Christian and Muslim settings and rejects the most egregious moral error of the Crusades—the sack of Constantinople—by creating an alternative outcome in which the hero chooses not to seize control of the Byzantine Empire.

Keywords: popular romance; Guy of Warwick; England; Crusades; Latin dominance

Chapter.  10590 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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