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Laʒamon’s «Brut» between Old English Heroic Poetry and Middle English Romance

A Study of the Lexical Fields ‘Hero’, ‘Warrior’ and ‘Knight’


Christine Elsweiler

The two manuscripts of the early Middle English chronicle Laʒamon’s Brut, British Library MS Cotton Caligula A ix and British Library MS Cotton Otho C xiii, display marked differences in their use of vocabulary. Whereas the vocabulary of the Caligula manuscript is consciously archaising, the lexicon of the Otho text is more modern. This study of the lexical fields ‘hero’, ‘warrior’ and ‘knight’ in the Brut chronicle investigates both the backward orientation of the Caligula Brut towards Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry and the supposed orientation of the Otho Brut towards the newly emerging genre of the Middle English romance. The results highlight the creative use of Old English models in both manuscripts and disprove the hypothesised close link between the Otho Brut and the romance genre.