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Essays and Studies in Middle English

9th International Conference on Middle English, Philological School of Higher Education in Wrocław, 2015

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Edited By Jacek Fisiak, Magdalena Bator and Marta Sylwanowicz

This volume is a selection of papers presented at the 9th International Conference on Middle English held at Wyższa Szkoła Filologiczna (Philological School of Higher Education) in Wrocław, Poland, from April 30 to May 3, 2015. The contributors cover a wide range of topics in the area of language and literature. The linguistic papers constitute the majority of contributions and focus on problems from phonology to grammar, semantics and pragmatics. The literary contributions discuss various aspects of Middle English texts.

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Speculum Principis, or on the education of a young man in Guy of Warwick (Liliana Sikorska)

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Liliana Sikorska

Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Speculum Principis, or on the education of a young man in Guy of Warwick

Abstract: The fifteenth century was the century of nostalgia for the bygone days of chivalry “trouthe and honur” to use Chaucer’s words (from his description of the Knight in “The Canterbury Tales”). Europe and Britain, in particular, observed the inevitable decline of the medieval worldview, the process facilitated by the growing reformatory movements and cultural changes. Despite all of these transformations, the longing for a more perfect world remained unaltered and so did the popularity of the so-called speculum literature. Varying from religious to secular, medieval mirrors offered advice in all spheres of life. Such advice is also offered by medieval romances, especially by those whose didactic message is connected with precepts of chivalry. In what follows I would like to argue that there are striking parallels between the first part of the romance of Guy of Warwick, one of the longest medieval Saracen romances, and medieval speculum principis genre, implementing the speculum ideas in practice. As the text enumerates and discusses all aspects of knightly behavior it can be read against yet another fifteenth century work, William Caxton’s The Ordre of Chivalarye which both endorses chivalric virtues and mourns their loss.

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