Preferred Citation: Ross, Charles. The Custom of the Castle: From Malory to Macbeth. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.


The Custom of the Castle

From Malory To Macbeth

Charles Ross

Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California

For Clare

Preferred Citation: Ross, Charles. The Custom of the Castle: From Malory to Macbeth. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.

For Clare



The Romance of Tristan . Trans. Renée Curtis. World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.


Edmund Spenser. The Faerie Queene . Ed. A. C. Hamilton. New York: Longmans, 1977.


The Quest of the Holy Grail . Trans. Pauline Matarasso. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.


Lancelot: Roman en prose du XIIIe siècle . Ed. Alexandre Micha. 9 vols. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1978-83.


Lancelot do Lac: The Non-Cyclic Old French Prose Romance . Ed. Elspeth Kennedy. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.


Thomas Malory. Le Morte D'Arthur . Ed. Janet Cowen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.


Ludovico Ariosto. Orlando Furioso. Opere . Ed. Adriano Seroni. Milan: Mursia, 1970.


Matteo Maria Boiardo. Orlando Innamorato . Trans. with Introduction and Notes by Charles Stanley Ross. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.



Chrétien de Troyes. Le Roman de Perceval ou le come du graal . Ed. William Roach. Geneva: Droz, 1959.


Le Roman de Tristan . Ed. Renée Curtis. 3 vols. 1963, 1976; Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1985.


Le Roman de Tristan en prose . Ed. Philippe Ménard. 6 vols. Geneva: Droz, 1990.


Chrétien de Troyes. Yvain. Le Chevalier au lion . Ed. Mario Roques. Paris: Champion, 1971.


The Works of Sir Thomas Malory . Ed. Eugene Vinaver. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Unless otherwise noted, all Shakespeare references are to the The Riverside Shakespeare , ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974).

I usually cite from the modern version of Malory for the convenience of the reader, but I retain Caxton's spelling of the title Morte Darthur . The forms Tristan, Iseut, Brunor, and Galehaut refer to the French texts. The forms Tristram, Isode, Breunor, and Galahalt refer to Malory's work in English. I use the spelling Guenevere throughout. Translations are my own, except where noted.



Renaissance romances often include seemingly fantastic stories about castles that impose strange, mostly evil customs on traveling knights and ladies. Conceived by Chrétien de Troyes in the twelfth century and widely imitated in medieval French romance, the "custom of the castle" flowered again when Italian and English authors, during the century before Shakespeare's plays and the rise of the novel, adopted this well-known motif to serve serious social purposes.

Where previous studies have dismissed the convention or conceived it as no more than a heroic test or a common expression of an ideology of court, this study uses the changing legal and cultural conceptions of custom in France, Italy, and England to uncover a broader array of moral issues. The book concentrates on single scenes, common to a series of epics, in order to show how nuanced narratives explore the social limits of order, violence, justice, civility, and political conformity in Renaissance masterpieces by Sir Thomas Malory, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Ludovico Ariosto, and Edmund Spenser. The book demonstrates, for the first time, the impact on Shakespeare's plays, particularly Macbeth , of an earlier way of thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of social customs.

Chivalric romances may be regarded from two perspectives, that of the individual and that of society. Some romances seem no more than a


series of adventures that test the prowess of individual knights. Yet knights also uphold standards and values, often those associated with King Arthur's court. They take on a social role, especially when their superior strength seems to predetermine their success.

The standards they represent bear scrutiny, as do all social values. The custom of the caste topos serves this purpose by providing a narrative means of thinking about society. One of the things narrative can organize for our perception is the moral problem created when the standards of one society or group clash with the customs of others. A story raises concerns analogous to those of jurisprudence, which asks, What is the origin and function of a law or custom? How do we recognize good laws? What are the biases and values that dwell within them? What are the duties and responsibilities of those who maintain the institutions that support them? Jurisprudence recognizes that justice is a value that depends on a social order and its goals.

Later romances redeployed Chrétien's latent social allegory of the mysterious power of custom. They did so in ways that reflect changing conceptions of the law. Boiardo and Ariosto use the topos to talk about the politics of power; Spenser uses it to start each legend of The Faerie Queene that concerns a social virtue; and Shakespeare inherited this long tradition of imagery. The chapter on Malory's Weeping Castle reveals how a foul custom and its endurance reinforces the moral authority of the past. Malory's Morte Darthur (1485) smooths the rupture between the Platonic narrative form of romance and that increasing awareness of social identity that Shakespeare will later explore in his dramas: the struggle for orientation, in a world of love and death, against the effects of the past and the moral weight of social convention.

The Italian poet Boiardo, a near-contemporary of Malory, guides readers to question the adequacy of their moral response to violence. The Castle Cruel episode of his Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love, 1482, 1495) tells how the knight Ranaldo is caught up in a system of ritual sacrifice presided over by a deranged woman who justifies her conduct by telling a gruesome tale of adultery and revenge. The result is a


humanist reading of the power of local customs, an allegory designed to give one pause in accepting two social features that most trouble anthropologists who attempt to justify the behavior of others: the sacrifice of innocents and the deliberate infliction of pain.

Even more than Boiardo, Ariosto made the instability of the moral imagination the main theme of another variation on the custom of the castle topos. As a young man, Ariosto spent five years studying civil law before he abandoned it in favor of poetry. In the wake of the sack of Rome in 1527, Italy's greatest Renaissance poet enlarged the final edition of his masterpiece, Orlando Furioso (1532), by adding two versions of the custom of the castle. The female warrior Bradamante cannot enter the Tower of Tristan, the first of these additions, until she meets the custom of jousting designed to promote a certain social order. As in the later Marganorre episode, Ariosto uses gender bias to exemplify problems of social inflexibility.

To trace the custom of the castle topos from Chrétien to Spenser is to see that the problem of the "vile custom" poses a certain moral dilemma in a way that begins as a conflict between individual desire and the community. By the time of The Faerie Queene this dilemma has been broadened into a conflict between a vision of a civil society and the inability of any community to sustain that vision. The continued strength of the form depends on the power of customs to represent the constraints of institutions as well as the distant past. Well versed in medieval romance, including the Morte Darthur , and a close student of Ariosto's Furioso , Spenser frequently adopted the narrative convention of the custom of the castle. Overlooked by previous critics, the topos serves as a model of moral uncertainty. Spenser's legend of courtesy, Book VI of The Faerie Queene (1596), makes the point that courtesy is characterized by imprecision and vagueness. Sir Calidor therefore properly enters a world of romance, pastoral woodlands, and pirates, whose surface hides practical reasoning. Moreover, a general understanding of courtesy sheds light on Spenser's experience in Ireland.

A similar problem of moral bewilderment occurs in Shakespeare's


plays. Although the setting of Hamlet (ca. 1601) is not recognizably that of epic romance, the moral problem of following prescribed custom is comparable to those examples of the custom of the castle where the power of local tradition depends not just on a veneration for the past but a genuine fear of offending the ghosts of one's ancestors, a fear whose grip on human activity is as powerful as vanity, sex, and hunger. If Hamlet questions the forms of activity suitable to civil society, Macbeth (ca. 1604) suggests the need to forget the horrors of the past in order to formulate a strong social future. The haunting death of his wife makes Macbeth realize that the only way to end his own foul custom is to abandon his castle at Dunsinane: his demise derives from his best qualities, bravery and insight, in a properly tragic fashion.

By the beginning of the seventeenth century, castles were relics of the past. Those Don Quixote entered were really country inns. Spenser's castle at Kilcolman had been burned in 1596 during a local insurrection. I have used a nineteenth-century sketch of its ruins as a frontispiece for this volume that reconstructs the sense of an image that once flourished.

A version of chapter 2 appeared previously, as "Malory's Weeping Castle" (Chaucer Yearbook , 2 [1995]: 95-116); chapter 3, as "Justifying Violence: Boiardo's Castle Cruel" (Philological Quarterly [1994]: 31-51); and chapter 4, as "Ariosto's Fable of Power: Bradamante at the Rocca di Tristano" (Italica 68 [1991]: 19-39).

I have benefited from the more than generous assistance of Allen Mandelbaum, Ann Astell, William Dowling, Mihoko Suzuki, Michael Murrin, and two anonymous readers. Robert Rodini, Jo Ann Cavallo, Michael Salda, Martha Craig, Katherine Goodland, and Stephanie Chamberlain edited and commented on various chapters. James Nohrnberg, Bruce Hozeski, Steven Mullaney, Eugene Vance, and Norris Lacy extended professional courtesies in response to my importunities. Stanley Holwitz showed exemplary patience. I would like to thank Dennis Looney, John Watkins, Paul White, and Tony Oldcorn for providing academic life with amicizia .


Some may be interested to know that my connection with the works studied in this book is personal, not ancestral. Or that I was teaching Hamlet , a remarkably consoling play, when my father died. He was a selfless and generous person. He paid for me, as my mother prays for me, and would have approved of my giving the last word to Slaney and Sam. In memoriam: Ira Stanley Ross (1914-1981).




Chapter One

By the end of the sixteenth century, there had emerged in northern Europe a notion of custom in some obvious sense related to the modern conception of custom as tradition or, as we now tend to say, cultural practice. This is the idea of custom Montaigne has in mind in the Essays , when, noting that Pindar had called her Queen and Empress of the world, he quite seriously remarks that "there is nothing that custom will not or cannot do," for "there falls into man's imagination no fantasy so wild that it does not match the example of some public practice."[1] As a sort of parable, Montaigne tells the story of a man who, asked why he is beating his father, answers that "it was the custom of his house: that his father had beaten his grandfather thus, his grandfather his great-grand-father; and, pointing to his son: 'And this one will beat me when he has come to my present age.'"

To call this a mad fantasy seems to invite a modern view of such behavior as, at worst, pathological, at best difficult to justify on grounds of nature or reason. Yet Montaigne's account, though it in one sense points in that direction, is attentive as well to an opposing logic operating beneath the surface of events, an older understanding in which custom or consuetudo exists in a complex relation to what we should now call justice or jurisprudence, and ultimately, to more primal notions of right and


wrong. Thus, for instance, the son dragging his father through the street is commanded by the old man "to stop at a certain door, for he had dragged his own father only that far." And the son obeys, leading Montaigne to conclude that "the laws of conscience, which we say are born of nature, are born of custom," that in any human community the sense of right and wrong may be seen to proceed in large measure from nothing more than an "inward veneration" of "the opinions approved, and customs received" ("les opinions et moeurs approuvées") among other members of the community.[2]

In purely rational terms, the danger posed by such a notion of custom is that, in providing a virtually automatic justification for behavior, it seems to take away all other grounds on which an action might be judged right or wrong: from parricide to torture to ritual murder, anything might be justified on the grounds that the community has done things this way from time immemorial. It is just such a rational or philosophical scrutiny that lies in the immediate background of Montaigne's discussion, for his citation of Pindar on the power of custom as "Queen and Empress of the world" has been taken from a translation of Plato's Gorgias , in which Socrates' interlocutor Callicles advances the proto-Nietzschean doctrine that the sovereign law (Pindar's nomos basileus panton ) is the natural superiority of the superior and stronger over the inferior and weaker.[3] Against this Socrates maintains not simply the salutary status of custom or convention as sources of genuine morality, but, famously, the paradox that no one does injustice willingly.

This is the paradox, I shall argue in the following chapters, lying at the heart of chivalric romance as it registers the dissolution of an older moral and theological order, "romance" as it renews Socrates' search into the bases of moral knowledge in narrative rather than dialectical or philosophical terms. For the crucial point, posed now in terms of quest and combat and chivalric honor, will always be that moral duty presents itself as a problem of adequate knowledge, of adjudicating among the competing and very often bewildering claims of nature and reason and custom. This is the context in which the "custom of the castle," the


rituals and traditions of the community of strangers into which the knight errant is received at one or another stage of his chivalric quest, comes to operate as an archetype of the problem of moral uncertainty, one that continues to exert its force, as we shall see, up to the moment Spenser's knights find uneasy entertainment in the allegorical castles of The Faerie Queene , Hamlet wonders whether to believe his father's ghost on the battlement, Lear's elder daughters oppose the bolt against their father, and Macbeth finds his own castles haunted.

Let us look at an episode in Chrétien's twelfth-century tale of Yvain , where the hero arrives at the Castle of Most Ill Adventure (Pesme Aventure), a workhouse where three hundred maidens weave silk under the command of two demi-goblins, beings born of an incubus demon and a mortal woman. By the time Yvain arrives he has the aura of a Christian deliverer because he is traveling with a tame lion and a young woman who has been disinherited by her elder sister. The foul custom of Pesme Aventure operates figuratively to shadow the struggle of the New Testament (the disinherited sister) as it replaces the Old Law. (In Christian typology, the marriage of Jacob to Leah represented fidelity to the synagogue; his marriage to her sister Rachel represented the transition to the Church.)[4] Yvain receives an inhospitable reception at Pesme Aventure because the town's rulers have imposed a "foul custom" (costume, Y 5146) on the inhabitants, requiring them to harass strangers. Despite the opposition, Yvain persists in entering the castle because his heart draws him there ("mes fins cuers leanz me tire," Y 5170). His attraction signals the allegorical nature of Pesme Aventure, since earlier in Yvain Calogrenant cautions his listeners to understand with their hearts, "For words are lost completely unless they are understood by the heart" ("car parole est tote perdue/s'ele n'est de cuer entandue," Y 151-152).[5]

Besides recalling the conflict between the old law and the new, Pesme Aventure creates an allegory of marriage, for another custom of the castle—"This is an established custom and rule" ("ce est costume et rante asise," Y 5496)—requires that Yvain must fight the demi-devils: if he


wins, the local lord will give him his castle, his lands, and his daughter. Elsewhere in Chrétien's works and later romances, strange customs figure a similar historical reality, as when Clamadeu besieges Blancheflor in her castle of Beaurepaire to win her and her property in Chrétien's Perceval .[6] Moral allegories often veil all-too-evident concerns.[7]

The social practice that gives us pause at Pesme Aventure concerns not religion or the details of customary arrangements of marriage, class, and property but a form of legal habit: Yvain's blind acceptance of the terms of combat with the two demons he must defeat. The two half-devils insist that Yvain's lion may not help him: "You have to be alone and we two together," they announce. "If the lion joined you to fight us, then you would not be alone, and it would be two against two" (Y 5550-5554). For no obvious reason except adherence to the custom of the castle, Yvain agrees to put the animal in a small room.[8] The custom, even of a social Other, has a powerful hold on Yvain. He agrees to its terms, although no one but the proprietors of the castle announce those terms, and by participating he helps maintain them. That the lion eventually claws its way under the threshold and helps defeat the pair does not alter the attitude toward custom this moment illustrates.

Chrétien is typically enigmatic in not providing sources for the customs of combat and behavior that guide his characters. Once or twice he traces them to King Arthur's father Utherpendragon, as in the first verses of Erec and Enide , where Arthur defends the Custom of the White Stag on the grounds that his father maintained it.[9] But these few references suffice to establish an "anterior order" that allows Chrétien's knights to presume that customs coincide with natural law until there is evidence to counter that presumption.[10] Social customs acted as a channel for natural law by partaking of the theological idea of an eternal and imprescriptible law. Later writers, who lived in different legal cultures, lost this regard for the past and felt the constraint of customs for other reasons. Sir Thomas Malory, however, who wrote during the fifteenth century, values the past so strongly that his work may be considered properly in the context of medieval French culture.


In the French model, customs guide knights through the moral uncertainties created by the strange situations they encounter, and in this way they function as a form of natural law. But Chrétien's topos becomes problematic because any identification of customary law with nature must be founded on a denial of either social change or social relativity. Philosophically, custom need not imply change over time; it may be considered as a fixed part of a static social order that has no history. In practice, as Arthur Ferguson points out, it must at some time have adapted to local conditions. Insofar as customs express "the character peculiar to a people," they stand in opposition to natural law, even if the moment of adaptation is pushed "back beyond historical memory."[11] The only way medieval and Renaissance thinkers could logically reconcile nature and custom was by following a Thomist-Aristotelian tradition of expanding natural law. It is the kind of broad argument Shakespeare's Polixenes makes to Perdita when he claims that there is no art that is not also part of nature. His logic does and does not persuade Perdita, since she refuses to cross-breed flowers (a form of miscegenation that she finds unnatural) at the same time that she is not sure that it is unnatural, although not customary, for her as a shepherdess to marry Prince Florizel (The Winter's Tale 4.4.71-108).

The conflict between natural law and customary law was better reconciled by history in the form of a narrative than by logic. Dispute resolution in English property law exemplifies this approach. In Malory's century, for example, the prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, asserted that rights to a certain water mill belonged to his convent and its predecessors "from the time that no mind is of," as proved by an award and judgment from the chief justice of the Common Pleas. The city denied the claim, asserting that it was seized of the property "at all times since the time that no man is of." Although judgment was given to the prior, both sides appealed to the past, not to equity.[12] The case shows how customary law conforms to changing circumstances (whatever precipitated the dispute) by narrative, conjuring a distant past "to which the memory of man stretcheth not."


Social relativity was handled the same way as social change. When people felt customs conflict with rather than transmit higher law, they told of an even deeper past.[13] The power of this appeal to the distant past explains why the thirteenth-century prose Tristan posits a set of earlier events, alleged to have occurred during the Christianization of England, in order to explain the origin and function of the customs of the Castle of Tears. No medieval romance projects an earlier moment than the origin of the "Chastel de Plors" in the days of Joseph of Arimathea, who converted all of England except for the Isle of the Giant. The lord of the island, named Dialetes, is wounded and unable to resist Joseph's missionaries when they land, but later he struggles to restore paganism. In doing so, he kills his twelve sons, who had converted. Driven almost mad by his deed, Dialetes founds a castle on the spot where the missionaries landed to commemorate his sons and to remind him of his hatred for those who drove him to murder his children. After he lays the foundation, he spills the blood of all the island's Christians by cutting off their heads on the spot and then throws their bodies into the sea. In this story, he literally founds his castle on religious difference ("En tel maniere fu cil chastiax fondez en sanc de Crestiens," T 456.17).

The prose Tristan therefore offers a more practical explanation for the power of custom than anything in Chrétien's stories. It says that Dialetes founded the custom of the castle both as a matter of revenge and as an attempt to control his legacy in the future, of which he is highly conscious because he has lost his children. Cursing all strangers because strangers cost him his sons, Dialetes decrees that arriving travelers can never leave but will be imprisoned in his new castle. His dungeon alone would justify the name of the Castle of Tears, but there is another reason too, as Dialetes perpetuates his sense of otherness by ensuring that his tradition will continue into the future. The narrator emphasizes this evil legacy by pointing out that the castle was called "Chastiax de Plor" (the spelling varies) because "without doubt this custom that the giant established was held for a long period of time."[14]


The foul custom of the Castle of Tears is sustained over time because Dialetes devises a scheme whose parts so appeal to the islanders that the people themselves ensure its perpetuation. He announces that he will stay in the tower of his own castle, called "le Chastel de la Roche au Jaiant" (T 458.4) and keep with him the island's most beautiful lady. He will issue forth from his tower only to defend the island (T 456.34). His custom will be to cut off his lady's head if a fairer lady appears, and if a better knight defeats him, that stranger will take over the castle and the lady. In this way, the island will always have the very best lord, as well as the honor of containing a lady of incomparable beauty. Dialetes makes a speech to the islanders to convince them to enforce the custom:

And do you know why I have thus established this custom? Because I wish that you, from this time forward, have as your lord the best knight who can be found, and that your lady be the most beautiful whom fortune sends.[15]

The custom devised by Dialetes plays on the vanity of the islanders because Dialetes offers them what they think they want, while ignoring right and wrong. The story suggests that the islanders sustain the tradition because of the attraction of good government and competent succession but also because the local inhabitants "can always boast of good knights and beautiful ladies" ("toz jorz venter de tres bons chevaliers et de tres beles dames," T 456.56-57). Dialetes succeeds in founding a custom, said to have lasted from the time of Joseph of Arimathea until the era of King Arthur ("Cele costume dura des le tens Joseph d'Abarimathie dusques au tens le roi Artus," T 457.3-4), because he perceives his people's nature.

If the power of Dialetes' customary law depends on the will of the people who maintain it, the story of Dialetes is plainly told to show that the custom of the Chastel de Plors belongs to an ethical world that has somehow gone wrong. Dialetes' joust and beauty contest enact an impersonal ritual of domination that we would classify as psychotic if these


foul customs did not have a larger purpose. Since even bad customs affirm the power of the past, the rest of the story (the part Malory kept) goes on to resolve the problem that a system based on the rightness of what time has approved is able to absorb the charge that the behavior it authorizes conflicts with a higher morality.

As the romance convention passed along a historical continuum from medieval France to Renaissance Italy and England, it told different stories about time, reflecting changes in the function of custom and the authority of the past. These changing perceptions may be explained, in part, by two related factors: first, the transmutation of oral law into written law, and second, the transition from a French culture of customs to one which followed Roman or civil law and then on to England, a common law country. The moral problem posed by the custom of the castle stays the same, since the elements of the topos—the keeper of the custom, the knight errant, the castle, and the foul custom itself—stay the same. But an increasingly ambiguous attitude toward the past in both law and literature encouraged a shift in emphasis from the individual who represented but was also controlled by institutional authority to one who both gained and lost self-identity in a civilizing process that required social conformity.

It is arguable that the topos "contained" these issues of justice, order, and civility all along and that they can be found in nuce in the work of Chrétien de Troyes. Donald Maddox's recent study of Chrétien's romances is subtitled "Once and Future Fictions" to stress that Chrétien's romances consider not just the foundations of social justice in the past but the problems of living in the present and structuring patterns of behavior for the future. This argument actually reinforces the development of the topos over the centuries by revealing the way the narrative convention raises ethical concerns. Although it is possible to slip into the state of mind illustrated by Callicles in Plato's Gorgias and really believe in the moral superiority of the strong, or to think for a moment that a medieval aristocrat married strictly for beauty without also weighing money and power, the realization that Chrétien created images able to


receive various interpretations suddenly reveals that what might have been mistaken for some kind of social reality (knights are strong, ladies fair) instead functions as a way of exploring moral issues. That is, we realize the symbolic nature of the sometimes deadly jousts and beauty contests that play so large a role in chivalric romance. The narrative structure that I call "the custom of the castle" allows us to glimpse a time when routinely accepted social conventions were still fresh and puzzling.

Amid the welter of moral bewilderments that are given fantastic or marvelous form in chivalric romance (giants, dragons, sorcerers, love, illusions, and apparitions), one motif emerges as normative: the custom of the castle—in purely narrative terms, the moment when a knight comes upon a castle and confronts a ritual or tradition or institutional control presided over by some villain—which may be read as a meditation on the weight of custom or local practice in resolving problems of moral knowledge. Foul customs raise the problem of a knight's need to know what is morally correct before he can act in a way that is right. But, as Fredric Jameson remarks, the traditional heroes of Western romance "show a naiveté and bewilderment" that makes them marginal to the ethical conflicts that romances seek to resolve.[16] Romance knights do not typically act in the moral sense; they react .

The conflict created by a "vile custom," then, is the specific form in which romance poses its problem of knowledge, providing a strong generic continuity from Chrétien to Malory and Shakespeare. The problem as it occurs in narrative terms is a variant of the same problem addressed by Socrates in the Gorgias and by Montaigne. First, in any human community, great weight must be given to custom and tradition in deciding matters of right and wrong, even when these may seem pointless on "rational" grounds. But second, to defer to the past is to admit the possibility that various kinds of behavior recognized to be wrong or repugnant by other canons of moral judgment (religion, reason, nature) may be sanctioned by the custom of some community.

When Montaigne sighs that "there is nothing that custom can or cannot do," he seems to express a longing to break free of the tyranny of


the past. During the sixteenth century, thinkers increasingly questioned the validity of customs as a source of values. Machiavelli noted that where ancient usage has no force, the relations between fortuna and virtù become crucial.[17] More's Utopia exposes the rhetorical force of custom when Raphael Hythloday complains that courtiers can defeat proposals for change, when other arguments fail, with "some remark like this: 'The way we're doing it is the way we've always done it, this custom was good enough for our fathers, and I only hope we're as wise as they were.'"[18] Thomas Wilson, an early Reformation English Protestant, who included withering attacks on Catholic ritual in his Rule of Reason (1551), wrote in that book that "custome is the mother, and the suckegever unto al erroure."[19] The Protestant martyr Peter Ramus said, "I pursue the fundament of truth, not the error of custom."[20] In the preface to Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar ; the commentator E.K. writes that following custom is like walking in the sun: you get sunburned. For Pascal and Milton, custom operated unnaturally. Pascal found the "force of custom" so great that it makes men masons, soldiers, slaters. . . . [Custom] constrains nature."[21] Milton lamented that "custom countenances error" as he argued for divorce on the basis of natural law.[22]

If fifteenth- and sixteenth-century thinkers recognized the instability of an argument based on custom, the same issue arose during English debates over such matters as enclosures, the common law, the balance of power between sovereign and Parliament, and religion. Thomas Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique (1553), for example, exposes the elements of custom to support his attack on Catholic rituals.[23] Deliberately modifying Cicero's definition of consuetudo as that which time and "the common consent of all without the sanction of statute" have approved,[24] Wilson, who sets his definition amid a general analysis of the virtue of justice, substitutes nature and reason for "common consent": "That is right by custome, which long tyme hath confirmed, beying partly grounded upon nature, and partly upon reason."[25] He can then argue that the customs of Rome are unnatural ("turning natures light into blind custome") and unreasonable ("devised only by the phantasie of man"), even


though time has long confirmed them. But a treatise on rhetoric serves both sides of any argument, and Wilson's opponents could easily turn around his arguments from nature and reason.

During Shakespeare's working years, custom provided those of the Parliamentary party with a convenient fiction that law was the immemorial inheritance of the people "in the full sense of 'traceable to no original act of foundation.'"[26] Nonetheless, as Alan Harding points out in his Social History of English Law , "The custom which was being praised so highly in politics was being relegated to a minor position in law. The landlords who were irked by its restrictions within the manor, and the Renaissance humanists harking back to the order and rationality (to their ideas) of classical Roman law, combined to depreciate custom." The lawyers required proof of the immemorial quality of a law—"a thing not easily done."[27]

Customs formed a privileged subject for narrative because the concept was part of a shared code that permitted "opposing discourses" to struggle for supremacy.[28] Thinkers like Machiavelli, Calvin, Montaigne, Marlowe, and Bacon recognized that rulers consolidated power by conspiring to produce systems of belief that would mystify the ruled. They regarded customs as both social practices and a means for the upper class to control society. Bacon's essay "Of Custom and Education" observes that customs move men as forcibly as wheels move engines, and his idols of the theater deceive those who too readily follow tradition.[29] Pascal follows the same line of thought when he laments, "How few things can be demonstrated! Proofs only convince the mind; habit provides the strongest proofs and those that are most believed. . . . Who ever proved that it will dawn tomorrow, and that we shall die? And what is more widely believed? It is, then, habit that convinces us."[30] That same Pascal who noted the unseemly power of custom to determine "the most important affair in life, the choice of a calling," also admired the efficacy of custom, in combination with reason and inspiration, to confirm belief in religion. Samuel Daniel justified the practice of rhyming in English poetry by linking it to "custom that is before all law,


nature that is above all art."[31] And Shakespeare's plots often rely on customs justified by time, not reason. In A Midsummer Night's Dream , Duke Theseus maintains Hermia's duty to obey her father according to the ancient law of Athens, even though Egeus is obviously wrong in his choice of husband for his daughter. In Romeo and Juliet the custom of Verona ordains that a dead person should be dressed in fine clothes and lie uncovered on a bier, a custom that Friar Lawrence and Juliet exploit despite Juliet's fears of suffocation or madness. What is important here is not to argue whether there was transition between France—or the Italian peninsula—and Renaissance England but to see how the antagonism revealed by these debates created a need for a narrative solution to the epistemological dilemmas they raised.

Narrative episodes structured by marvelous but credible "customs" derived from a tradition of rhetorical invention that stretched from Plato and Aristotle to the sixteenth century. This tradition, which Wesley Trimpi traces, bridges the gap between the narrative and dramatic use of customs that will be important in considering Shakespeare's plays. According to Trimpi, declamatory exercises in the schools stressed the invention of fictional resolutions to initial premises of law. The premises might be "specific leges or regulae " or, if unexpressed, then "'natural laws,' expressing the universal intentions of justice which the writer shares with his readers."[32] Their model derived from Aristotle's explanation of the procedures for converting a plot into a play. In the Poetics , Aristotle explains that the mythos of Iphigenia consists of a stipulated custom and the action of characters: Iphigenia is spirited to a "country where the custom is to sacrifice all foreigners to the goddess" (a practice that resembles the "foul custom" of a castle in romances). She becomes a priestess. When her brother arrives, he recognizes her, and she saves him. At this point, says Aristotle, one may add names and expand the play with "other scenes."[33]

The same function was served pedagogically by "the brief setting forth of the fictional circumstances and the legal conditions."[34] Instead of inventing episodes, the student argued for probable or necessary con-


clusions, but both processes depended on the "powerful deductive movement of fiction."[35] If an ethical poetics posits an "exemplary" custom, the tradition of declamatory invention Trimpi has identified takes custom not as a goal but as a premise. Trimpi argues that the love debates of Andreas Capellanus and the novellas of Boccaccio (obvious sources for chivalric romances) correspond to the declamatory tradition that stressed the invention of fictional resolutions to initial premises. As a narrative episode, the custom of the castle should also exhibit an artistic consistency that connects the initial premises to probable or necessary conclusions. At the same time, the custom of the castle developed its own tradition of ethical allegory.

From medieval France to Renaissance Italy and England, writers of chivalric romances constructed narrative episodes from elements that included a knight errant, a castle, a custom of dubious merit, and a person or group who oversees and maintains the custom. As each writer varied the work of his predecessors, he tried to make sense of the narrative conventions he found. The concept of knighthood shifted, losing its primary meaning of reference to a class of military guardians; knighthood became instead merely a sign of social rank. Castles similarly lost their strong meaning. Although the word had cognates in all three languages, the chastel, castello , and castle of France, Italy, and England conjured different images for different authors and audiences. Castles in the work of Chrétien de Troyes, for example, are usually towns with streets and churches and towered keeps within fortress walls. For Italian authors like Boiardo and Ariosto, a castle is often a single edifice, like a large urban palace. Spenser pictures castles as rural manors, the kind of isolated edifices he knew in Ireland, and refers to them as houses.[36]

The legal meaning of custom , a word which also occurs in similar form in all three languages, also changed. Chrétien wrote during the twelfth century in Champagne and perhaps Flanders. The original center of chivalry followed oral law, making custom a key legal concept. The Italians, coming later and living in an area governed by written law, made something quite different of scenes involving a costuma ria (foul


custom), even as they imitated Old French romance. At the end of the tradition the English again stress custom for legal purposes and for a different legal system.

The moral issues of justice, order, and civility stay the same during the lifetime of the topos, which continues to show the same elements of knight, castle, custom, and keeper; yet the problem of moral knowledge altered as new groups adopted the traditional narrative forms. By the time we get to The Faerie Queene the old moral code of chivalry based on individual prowess—where doing the right thing sufficed in the absence of knowledge—has shifted to a code where a man's knowing right from wrong excuses his inevitable inability to escape calumny. This inability to perform includes the writing of Spenser's poem, which ends with the triumph of the Blattant Beast, an image of the troubled reception of Spenser's own elitist experiment in anachronism.

The chapters that follow trace the way a changing perception of the past produced a shift in the moral problems raised by the custom of the castle. Malory's Morte Darthur follows the French tradition by looking to the past to explain social change. This process finds expression at the Weeping Castle in Tristram's need to "fordo" the foul custom, a word that captures Tristram's need both to maintain the custom and somehow overcome it. The Italians, by contrast, look to the present. For Boiardo and Ariosto, if something is wrong with the social system, you outwit it (though not without a display of force, greater in Boiardo, less in Ariosto).

Where the Italians developed a notion of civility to counteract a rigid social system increasingly dominated by foreigners during the sixteenth century, English authors went a step further and weighed the anxiety produced by excessive attention to social manners. The early Spenser venerates the past as a source of social values, but his later work responds to this anxiety by reformulating customs as guides to future behavior. The legend of courtesy in The Faerie Queene rewrites the old romance motifs in a way that mirrors a similar development in the English law, where customs were used as a legal fiction to shape social behavior.


Spenser's narrative inquiry into the role of customs exemplifies the development of a system of literary signs that Shakespeare's drama draws on to pose moral questions, as in Hamlet . In Macbeth Shakespeare shaped the concept of custom to coincide with a social vision of the future, a vision that the literary castle had come to symbolize. After Shakespeare, the custom of the caste becomes the manners of the sometimes haunted country house, and the story of this romance convention becomes the history of the novel.

As a first step in this literary history, the following chapter considers Malory's richest example of the custom of the castle. The Weeping Caste begins as a love allegory, as does Chrétien's Caste of Most Ill Adventure (although the Morte Darthur's subject is adultery, not marriage and property). The story soon turns into a marvelously complex moral encounter between Tristram and local custom.


Chapter Two
Malory's Weeping Castle

The episode of the Weeping Castle—a translation and "reduction" of the thirteenth-century prose Tristan —occurs in Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur as Tristram escorts Isode from Ireland to marry his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. The travelers drink a potion on board ship and fall in love. In the French story, once Tristan hears Iseult say she loves him as he loves her, and realizes they are alone and that no one will disturb them, he has his way with her.[1] The narrator laments that Tristan's "aventure" (misadventure) will cause constant regret: "This passion which the philtre instilled in him caused him such great pain and anguish that no knight before or after was ever tormented by love as much as he was" ("Et de cele amor qu'il prist ensi par le boire amorous ot il puis poine et travail si grant que avant ne aprés ne fu chevaliers tant traveilliez por amors com il fu," T 448.15-17).[2] A few lines later another "aventure" disrupts their voyage to Cornwall as a storm drives their ship to the Distant Isles ("les Loigtiegnes Isles," T 450.7).

Malory's text, which omits the narrator's lament, shows far less interest in the tragic love affair than in Tristram's fame as a member of King Arthur's Round Table. As happens so often in the Morte Darthur , however, less is more, and Malory charms us with his prose:[3] "But by that their drink was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that never


their love departed for weal neither for woe" (MD 8.24).[4] A swirl of words in the Morte Darthur substitutes for physical action, and only the sequentiality of the text connects what follows with the perilous situation of the new lovers: "So then they sailed till by fortune, they came nigh a castle that hight Pluere, and thereby arrived for to repose them, weening to have them good harbor" (MD 8.24). Malory characteristically downplays physical love and adultery. Only the name of the castle—French for "tears"—mirrors the lovers' sad plight, their unfortunate love that Emmanule Baumgarten calls "un défi perpétuel au monde et à ses lois."[5] ç

Yet even as Malory isolates the theme of honorable friendship, the enigmatic, duplicative structure of the story retains, if it does not increase, the sense that the power of social customs is at stake. Tristram and Isode are suddenly imprisoned, without warning. They are contained within the castle, confined to a fixed space, and bound by a set of harsh rules—set in a scene so conventional that it suggests the new lovers are constricted not by themselves or King Mark or Sir Breunor, the lord of the island, but by convention itself:

For the custom of the castle was such, who that rode by that castle and brought any lady, he must needs fight with the lord, that hight Breunor. And if it were so that Breunor won the field, then should the knight stranger and his lady be put to death, what that ever they were; and if it were so that the strange knight won the field of Sir Breunor, then should he die and his lady both. This custom was used many winters, for it was called the Castle Pluere, that is to say the Weeping Caste. (MD 8.24)

The first part of the episode ends when Tristram and Isode arrive at the Weeping Castle and the narrator gives an incomplete statement of the custom of the castle (a beauty contest between ladies will supplement the required duel). The second section, beginning where the edition of William Caxton starts chapter 8.25, focuses on Sir Breunor, who paradoxically maintains a foul custom by fair means. The final sec-


tion features Tristram's chivalrous exchanges with Galahalt: conversations that release the constraints imposed by the custom of the Weeping Castle.

Each section of the episode of the Weeping Castle represents a crisis for a different keeper of the custom, a role played in turn by the local population, the lord of the castle, the outsider Tristram, and finally Galahalt, who returns from self-exile. Forced to maintain the foul custom, the keepers reaffirm the difficulty of changing a social system that looks to the past to legitimate its system of justice.


The power of social custom to shape behavior for good or ill, which characterizes the encounter between Tristram and the keepers of the Weeping Castle toward the middle of Malory's Morte Darthur , fascinated fifteenth-century England. Customs justified and governed the role of women and children and serfs digging on the lord's property, as well as conquerors and kings and all holders of property.[6] Richard II swore in his coronation oath to uphold "laws and customs," especially the "laws, customs, and liberties" conceded by King Edward the Confessor "to the clergy and people." He was deposed in 1399 because he "refused to keep and defend the just laws and customs of the realm, but according to the whim of his desire he wanted to do whatever appealed to his wishes."[7] Sir John Fortescue (appointed chief justice of the king's bench by Henry VI in 1442) wrote in De laudibus legum Angliae (composed for the young prince Edward) that a king may by royal decree alter tallage and other burdens, yet politically, he cannot change the laws of his country without the consent of his subjects "nor yet charge them with strange impositions against their wills." The king's justice is a transcendent virtue, but Fortescue is under no illusion about the difficulty of achieving it in the world. If a king hopes to succeed, he must respect existing institutions, whose origins are the equivalent of basic premises in the discourse of reason.[8]


Fortescue's argument shows the difficulty of change where a society has a rigid conception of morality. Law in the Middle Ages appealed to a different authority than it does today. In modern America, law is amoral.[9] Its origin is the state, and its sanction is the coercive power of the state to enforce it. Our law is "positive" or legislative law, not "natural" law. Customary law depends for its authority on moral arguments, which carry little weight in our current court system. Custom and tradition therefore play only a small part in modern American jurisprudence. During the Middle Ages, however, systems of justice based on custom were more common than they are today, not only because individual states and societies and institutions were slow to compile extensive sources of written law, but because natural law exerted a powerful influence. Customary law

passes over obsolete laws, which sink into oblivion, and die peacefully, but the law itself remains young, always in the belief that it is old. Yet it is not old; rather it is a perpetual grafting of new on to old law, a fresh stream of contemporary law springing out of the creative wells of the subconscious, for the most part not canalized by the fixed limits of law and charter.[10]

Customary law conforms to changing circumstances by appealing, somewhat paradoxically, to a more distant past, "to which the memory of man stretcheth not." An extensively oral culture augments this flexibility, since three or four repetitions often suffice to establish precedent. (Customary law is sometimes referred to as unwritten law, even when it was written down—there were customaries and charters and contracts and other documents—because the source of its authority was unwritten.) Shakespeare noticed that sixteen years sufficed "to plant and o'er-whelm custom" (The Winter's Tale , 4.1.9).

References to legal jurisdiction confirm our impression that the idea of justice, as well as an understanding of its practical implementation, is ultimately at stake at the Weeping Castle. Several features link the episode to a more obvious judicial encounter, the summoning of King


Agwisance of Ireland to King Arthur's court for treason (MD 8.20-23). There is, first, a symmetry of position. On his way to Ireland to fetch Isode, Tristram arrives at Camelot where he enlists as the champion of Agwisance. On his return to Cornwall, he encounters the Weeping Castle. Both episodes involve trial by combat. And both seem motivated by treachery. Tristram does not know why he is imprisoned, and Agwisance, who must leave Ireland to hear the accusation of Sir Blamor de Ganis, "wist not wherefore he was sent for" (MD 8.20). Once King Agwisance reaches Camelot, he learns that he is charged with murder and must fight to defend himself, "for the custom was such those days, that and any man were appeled of any treason or murder he should fight body for body, or else to find another knight for him" (MD 8.20). The story implies that someone in Arthur's court set up King Agwisance, perhaps to force him to forfeit his power: if he "came not in at the day assigned and set, the king should lose his lands" (MD 8.20). Events force both Tristram and Agwisance into a hostile jurisdiction, whether Arthur's court or Breunor's castle.

If Malory's story uses customs as a sign both of a fallen world and of a higher ideal, this dual usage reflects both the continued prestige of custom in English culture and its growing complexity. By Malory's time, for example, technically complex borough "customs" had been evolving for centuries. Between 1440 and 1500, the leading towns of England and Ireland were able to produce articles of incorporation giving them legal powers, including the right to hold lands. These documented customs help confirm how the Morte Darthur reflects the language of its time.[11]

In a somewhat more precise way, Malory's romance gives narrative form to the conflicts that gave rise to the legal concept of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is the legal principle that administers the king's claim to supervise the justice of his realm. Originally the writ of habeas corpus asserted the prerogative of the king's court, as it does in the case of Agwisance. Over time, the king's right became that of the subject. The primary function of the writ changed, as it became a mechanism to release


men from unlawful imprisonment. No writ issues in Malory's story, yet the romance still reflects the conflicting conceptions of justice that created the need for it. The wonderful intricacy of Tristram's discussions with Breunor, lord of the Weeping Castle, suggests the verbal dueling of two lawyers whose real subject is the right of Tristram to change venue. Tristram objects to his confinement, but he is trapped in a private prison, such as once existed in England.[12] The practical solution he hopes to win is to avoid being accused and tried by the same lord—one who, moreover, determines the local law.

The conflict between Arthur's power and that of local lords has led recent critics, following the structuralist logic of Claude Lévi-Strauss, to conclude that a myth such as Malory's tale of King Arthur tries temporarily and through the story to reconcile a central contradiction. Beverly Kennedy, for example, sees the submission of Agwisance as a sign of Arthur's imperial power. She argues that Tristram is aware of the "political implications of the judicial duel"; such duels "played an important role in the ongoing effort of late medieval monarchs to control feuding among the nobility and, at the same time, to enlarge the sphere of their judicial competence."[13] Elizabeth Pochoda's version of this establishment myth was that Malory's fiction offered a vision of institutional stability.[14]

If there is a problem with such conclusions, it is really one of generality. Centralization was well in hand at every stage of the development of Arthurian romance. It is not unique to Malory. For example, Marie of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, patronized Chrétien de Troyes. Eleanor's second husband, Henry II, took the most important criminal cases, called Pleas of the Crown, out of the shire courts by a statute of 1166. His royal court of Westminster also assumed jurisdiction over land disputes. In the half century after the prose Tristan was written (ca. 1230), King Edward I initiated many statutes, such as the famous Quia emptores , a source of property law for centuries.[15] He also promulgated the Statute of Winchester (1285), which authorized local citizens to detain criminal suspects until the king's justiciar arrived to try


them. In Malory's time, King Edward IV reorganized the crown lands and contributed to the centralization of power in England.[16] He "took so keen a personal interest in justice that in the first fifteen years of his reign he well-nigh reverted, perhaps unconsciously, to the itinerant practice of early Angevin monarchy, becoming a peripatetic king visiting and doing justice upon every part of his realm."[17] Despite these royal efforts to expand power by legislation, no sovereign swung the pendulum decisively toward positive law. Royal bullying and the prying of a central administration are timeless practices.

In the Morte Darthur , a veneration for the past resolves the conflict between good natural law and foul local practice. This sentiment makes the idea of a "foul custom" an oxymoron, a contradiction to be explained away. When people felt customs conflict with higher law, rather than transmitting this law, they turned to an even deeper past: "A custom, in other words, might seem especially to deserve condemnation when it was too new."[18] That bad customs paradoxically reaffirm the power of the past is the key to the Weeping Castle as an allegory of social change. It reveals how a system based "on the idea that what has been has ipso facto the right to be" is able to absorb the charge that the behavior it authorizes conflicts with a higher morality, because the reformation of bad customs and reestablishment of the good old ways allows natural law (the ideal of chivalry) to flourish.[19]


Among the major critics of Malory's work, Eugène Vinaver is well aware of the custom of the castle topos but tends to see it as part of the fantasy that Malory tried to eliminate. Critics have not turned their attention to the customs of the Weeping Castle or to similar episodes, of which there are many, for the custom of the castle was a favorite device of Malory's sources and one that he retained for the most part as he reduced his story into English.[20] Other examples include episodes involving Balin (MD 2.13), Percival's sister (MD 2.13 and 17.10), Castle Orgulous (MD 9.3),


and the Caste of Maidens (MD 13.15).[21] Only Larry Benson pays any real attention to the custom motif. He considers it as part of a pattern of tests for a hero.[22] But an interpretation that focuses strictly on male chivalry ignores the issue of social conformity, which affects everyone.

The first part of the episode, where Tristram and Isode are imprisoned, establishes the Weeping Castle as an image of the constraint of social customs. Today, we think of custom as modes of behavior accepted and practiced by a group, but not binding on outsiders.[23] Tristram arrives at the Weeping Caste "by fortune," and his indignant reaction to the local rules identifies him as one outside the pale of the castle's way. Yet Tristram never argues that the long arm of Breunor's law unfairly hales him into battle. Nor can he, for the storm that drives his ship ashore obscures his own responsibility for entering the jurisdiction willingly, where he seeks adventures in the French text and hospitality, or "good herborow" (harbor or haven) in the English. His situation is not that of one who seeks to avoid the unknown, but of someone who gradually learns, to his distress, what actions others expect of him. His social (as distinct from his judicial) position resembles that of a young person suddenly facing a social rite of initiation. Such ritual elements make Arnold Van Gennep's Rites of Passage a tempting key for reading romances. We might turn to Northrop Frye's cycles of nature in The Anatomy of Criticism or seek parallels between romances and the rituals of James Frazer's Golden Bough or "the dreams examined by Jung."[24] What matters, however, is that Tristram's participation turns what might otherwise be an image of local piracy or provincial banditry into an allegory of the constraints of social ideology. The episode mirrors the situation of anyone who must justify her conformity to a difficult custom.

Traditional practices are not explicitly stated as something that ought to be done. Obligations seem to reach out to ensnare the knight errant and his lady. They are not necessarily moral or immoral. They are not justified "in terms of the consequences of the action prescribed."[25] No practical reason is found for them other than "that's the way it's done."[26]


But as John Ladd points out, moral teachers do not try to justify the old ways by assuming that the old ways are good because they are old: "the authority of tradition is never employed as a ground for a moral prescription."[27] There must be another factor, such as the superior wisdom of those who lived before, or the sudden discovery that what seems old is recent, the responsibility not of nature but of a person. In Malory's romance, the custom is both old and not so old: "so this custom was used many winters" (MD 8.24), and much of Malory's stylistic genius is in that grim synecdoche for time which he added to his source.

When a nameless knight and a lady visit Tristram in prison, Tristram feels "distress" at his ill treatment:[28]

What is the cause the lord of this castle holdeth us in prison? It was never the custom of no place of worship that ever I came in, when a knight and a lady asked harbor, and they to receive them, and after to distress them that be his guests. (MD 8.25)

Hearing Tristram's tirade, the anonymous knight and lady explain to him the cause and function of his imprisonment. The knight suggests that the custom at stake is not confinement but what the local people call battle and judgment. Tristram reacts to what he believes is the purpose of the custom, to eliminate weak knights and plain ladies. He exclaims that "this is a foul custom and a shameful," but he is ready to conform to it, however much he dislikes the custom, as long as he can fight "on a fair field" (MD 8.25).

A certain mouvance , perhaps reflecting the variability of oral custom, allows the keeper of the custom to influence its procedure.[29] Where the anonymous knight says Tristram's duel will precede a beauty contest between Isode and Breunor's wife, Breunor announces that the beauty contest comes first:

For and thy lady be fairer than mine, with thy sword smite off my lady's head; and if my lady be fairer than thine, with my sword I must strike off her head. And if I may win thee, yet shall thy lady be mine, and thou shalt lose thy head. (MD 8.25)


It would seem that a chivalrous knight's task would be to defeat Sir Breunor and reform his castle, while sparing him and his lady. Tristram should eliminate the custom of judicial murder that obtains at the Weeping Castle, not necessarily kill the keepers of it. It is no small surprise, therefore, that after Breunor's wife loses the beauty contest, Tristram takes what the original text calls an "awke stroke" and smites off her head. Nor are we quite prepared for the end of Tristram's duel, when "anon Sir Tristram thrust Sir Breunor down grovelling, and then he unlaced his helm and struck off his head" (MD 8.26). To our shock, Tristram fully conforms to the castle's custom. Tristram follows what society requires. In this way he resembles the inhabitants of the castle, who conform to the conditions they announce.

It is not unusual in Arthurian romance for the keeper of the castle to tell the story of the custom's origin, or oversee its operation, or participate in it himself. This literary technique is a form of what anthropologists call "descriptive ethics." In chivalric romances, the keeper may explain the custom, or he may justify the custom by appealing to its antiquity or the tradition of his father.[30]

In the French story the inhabitants of the Castle of Tears maintain the custom because it was formerly established years before by Dialetes to ensure that they would always have the best knight and most beautiful lady to rule them. They force Sir Brunor, who comes from Ireland, to maintain it. In contrast, Malory's Breunor seems to be the source of the foul custom. His death, combined with the way others differ in their conception of how the custom operates, raises the question of how various people and groups maintain their local practice.

Anthropologists investigate the extent to which individuals conform to the moral code they announce as well as the function of their social practices. In England, even private courts of the manor were open to spectators, however biased their local loyalties. Sir Breunor's reference to a "judgment" leads Tristram to fear that the local population may not reward Isode's beauty.[31] He instantly seizes on the fact that the verdict in the judgment will be given by the "estates and commons" who have


gathered, and he worries that they will be biased: "'Nay, I will not so,' said Sir Tristram, 'for here is none that will give righteous judgement'" (MD 8.25).

The all-embracing power of social usage implicates Sir Tristram even as he protests against the foul custom he faces. Malory's use of what Mark Lambert calls the "collective voice" emphasizes the relationship between a person or group's own statement of its ideology, or moral code, and its practice.[32] By means of verbal ambiguities and confusions, the stiff conversations of Malory's informants create a felt need for a transcendent power to resolve the constraints people impose on themselves in the name of order.[33]

Although Tristram threatens harm to anyone who votes against Isode, Sir Breunor and everyone else can see that Isode is the fairer lady. When, as a result of the verdict, Tristram cuts off the head of Sir Breunor's lady, Tristram himself becomes a keeper of the castle's custom. He conforms to local practice despite repeatedly exclaiming against it. Pressured by the presence of spectators he cannot control, Tristram fulfills the conditions of the foul custom of the Weeping Castle, which ensure the dominance of the best knight and most beautiful lady. Similarly, when Tristram defeats Sir Breunor and cuts off his head, he is not unfair or callous, but punctilious in honoring the local code.

At once all the people who belong to the castle ask Tristram to "abide there still a little while to fordo that foul custom." And "Sir Tristram granted thereto." But why is there need to "fordo" (eliminate) the local practice if Sir Tristram loathes it, Sir Breunor is dead, and the people of the castle who do "homage and fealty" to Tristram want it ended? Sir Breunor's son Galahalt, who appears in the third section of the episode, has left home rather than support what he calls "a shameful custom and usage" (MD 8.27). No one wants it, yet the foul custom continues to exist.

If the premise of the Weeping Castle is the conforming power of public attitudes, the moral and artistic problem raised by this romance convention is how to ameliorate a custom of the castle that perpetuates


itself, since according to the custom, any knight strong enough to survive is forced to continue the local practice. Tristram unwillingly defends what he despises. He does so until Breunor's son Galahalt provides a solution to the moral perplexity of his imprisonment in the third section of the episode.

Malory fails to identify Galahalt adequately, in keeping with his practice of minimizing the influence of the prose Lancelot . He says only that Galahalt is dwelling in Sorelois with Lancelot when Tristram kills his parents. In the French story, Galehaut's sister, named Delice, brings him the news of this tragedy. Galehaut vows to return to his estate to avenge his parents. He insists that his vengeance requires a single combat, despite the objection of the King with the Hundred Knights that such a duel is too risky for one on whom the safety of his realm depends. Gale-haut ignores him and forces his sailors to take him to the Far Away Islands against their will (T 472.25-26). When he lands Galehaut says he will not be a prisoner, since he is ready to follow the custom of the caste by facing Tristan: "I am prepared to engage the custom of the caste!" ("car je sui prez de faire la costume de cest chastel!" T 473.6).

A further comparison with the French text shows that Malory deepened the prose Tristan's analogy between chivalric loyalty and custom. Tristan and Galehaut maintain the ritual of combat until Galehaut, severely wounded, tells Tristan that his men, led by the King of the Hundred Knights, will kill him to complete Galehaut's revenge: "Tristan, now you are dead! You see my men have arrived! You killed my father; if I do not achieve vengeance, I am shamed" ("Tristanz, fait il, or iés tu morz! Voiz la roes homes qui la vienent! Tu oceïs mon pere; se je ne m'en venge a cest point, dont sui je honiz," T 479.7-10).

Tristan answers that he is certain that Galehaut would never use such villainy (vilenie ) as to rely on reinforcements during a single combat: "'Ah,' said Sir Tristan, 'you say that to scare me!'" ("Ha! dit Tristanz, tu le diz por moi espoenter!" T 479-10). Then, with a sense of discrimination if not casuistry typical of early prose romances, Tristan declares that he realizes that he himself will achieve no honor by killing Galehaut


now, since Galehaut is a good prince and badly wounded. To save Galehaut's honor, Tristan holds himself defeated and hands him his sword:

Now slay me if you wish; and if you wish, let me live. And as God is willing, I do not do this for fear of death, for I have never been afraid to die, for death is something, I know, that no one can escape. I do this to have your good will, if that may be.

Or m'oci, se tu veus; et se tu veus, lesse moi vivre. Et se Diex me conseut, je ne fais mie ceste chose por dotance de mort, que ja de mort n'avrai paor, que c'est une chose que je sai bien que je ne puis eschaper; roes je le te di por ta bone volenté avoir, s'il puet estre. (T 479.16-20)

Tristan's courteous offer follows a romance topos. Gawain and Yvain each claim to be defeated in Chrétien's Chevalier au lion in a scene of mutual deferral when the two knights serve as respective champions for the two daughters of the Lord of Noire Espine.[34] In the prose Lancelot Galehaut himself refuses to pursue his conquest of King Arthur, because the king has too few men, saying, "and if I conquered his land at this time I would not win honor, but shame."[35] The prose Tristan replays the theme by establishing Galehaut's admiration for Tristan, which mirrors his love for Lancelot. As the two knights become friends, Galehaut encourages Tristan to tour Grant Bretaigne as soon as he has delivered Iseult to King Mark, and he promises to give all the lands he has conquered to Lancelot and Tristan if only he can see them together.[36]

Malory seems to have missed the point: Tristram yields to his adversary not because he is embarrassed to fight a man so badly wounded that he cannot possibly win, but because Galahalt has more men ("I will rather yield me to you than die, for that is more for the might of your men than of your hands," MD 8.27). Yet Malory did not overlook the moment of courteous accord; he expanded it to involve a mutual exchange of promises between Tristram and Galahalt that also provides a unique means to eliminate the local custom.[37] For Tristram's surrender, which echoes his submission to the local custom, allows Galahalt to ex-


press magnanimity in language that constantly invokes the name of Lancelot. This honorable discourse occurs when Galahalt declares that he forgives Tristram because "he is the noblest man that beareth life, but if it were Sir Launcelot du Lake." Galahalt further explains that he will eliminate the customs of the castle if Tristram will promise to seek Lancelot and "accompany with him."

As Galahalt pronounces the end of the custom of the castle, Malory's syntax produces a powerful ambiguity that has no equivalent in the French source. Galahalt conjures a vision of a world where a knight and a lady can do as they wish, or, as Galahalt says, "Ye shall go where ye will, and your fair lady with you." This vision of freedom from the constraint of custom contrasts with the practice of the Weeping Castle. Paradoxically, this vision is also part of a logical proposition that the Weeping Castle contains, because only if the custom of the castle still obtains does Galahalt need to release Tristram from it. He offers to end its baleful shadow if Tristram promises to go not just anywhere, but "unto Sir Launcelot." The offer and release has a double gestalt. Even as Galahalt proclaims Tristram's freedom, he makes that freedom conditional on Tristram's accepting his bondage to Galahalt. For when Galahalt says "so ye will promise," the hidden threat is, if Tristram does not promise to live free, the custom of the castle will remain in force:

"And, Sir Tristram," said Sir Galahalt, the Haut Prince, "well be ye found in these marches, and so ye will promise rile to go unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, and accompany with him, ye shall go where ye will, and your fair lady with you; and I shall promise you never in all my days shall such customs be used in this castle as have been used." (MD 8.27)

By means of this verbal exchange Malory's promotion of chivalry makes the medley of formal contests for prowess and beauty at the Weeping Castle outward manifestations of a deeper cultural logic. Even foul customs have a good function insofar as they partake of the idea of a social contract. From Cicero to Locke, what Thomas Wilson in the


Renaissance called a "bargain" was recognized as the fundamental gesture of civilization. Based on the natural law notion that a promise must be kept, Malory makes an exemplary myth—a model of good conduct—of what in the French is an originary custom, founded on religious hatred and the problems of cultural transmission. What eliminates the evil custom in Malory's text is something higher than a judicial duel, or an invading army that burns the castle, or the arrival of a new generation ready to denounce their fathers. It is an exchange of promises familiar to the common law: an offer and counteroffer, a social bargain created by Tristram and Galahalt. By affirming a custom of fair dealing, it serves as a powerful alternative to the previous constraints of local law.


As an allegory of social pressure, the Weeping Castle invites many readings. Its polysemous quality makes it typical of romances whose allegories are not continuous, but concentrated in certain symbolic centers, usually a castle or a garden. For example, the first section of the episode, which concludes the story of the love philtre, points to a reading of the Weeping Castle as an allegory of impending adultery, where the love of Tristram and Isode stands in opposition to the social necessity of a political marriage. The story is also effective as a lesson in the oppression of women, a lesson Malory himself may not have recognized. Women are not only pawns in a male world of violence but judged by their beauty, effectively silenced, and turned into rivals of each other.[38] A New Historicist might further read this episode as the story of colonial conquest, where Tristram washes ashore and then insinuates himself into the existing system of power as a first step in altering it to his own advantage.

Such readings survive Malory's translation of his French original, although each is subversive of Malory's supposed intention to establish Tristram as a chivalric ideal, the model of conduct and bringer of justice. As a socially symbolic action, Tristram's confrontation with the foul cus-


tom-of-the-castle entrapment turns the episode into more than the story of impending adultery or a battle against tyranny or an image of righteous conquest. Malory leaves out much of his source. He practically extinguishes the Weeping Caste as an allegory of love: Tristram is more interested in finding Lancelot than idling with Isode. Malory also blurs the confrontation between Tristram and an alien culture. In the French text, Brunor's wife is a giant—the usual romance image for the Other—and part of the local population lives by piracy.[39] And Malory eliminates the origin of the caste custom, when Dialetes establishes a set of values (knightly prowess, female beauty) that convinces his people to reject outsiders.

It is hard to argue from omission and equally difficult to relate Malory's work to a specific historical context, despite two or three candidates scholars have offered as the real Thomas Malory.[40] We know little more about him other than that he was probably a member of the knight class in England who owned property and may have participated in the regional feuds among great lords that did more damage than the Wars of the Roses during the 1460s in England. We do not know much about Malory's thoughts on marriage or foreign trade. Nor does Malory's often ambiguous prose style give us much confidence in any precise reading or the meaning of any particular scene. These caveats notwithstanding, it seems fair to say that Malory's version of the Weeping Caste reflects a fifteenth-century consciousness of the moral, historical, and ritual power of social customs.

The contrast between an old and good, seemingly natural law and actual legal practice seems clear enough in the story at large. The Round Table represents an ideal that cannot survive the worldly limits the Grail quest exposes, or the conflicts, such as Lancelot's adultery, that chivalry should circumscribe. Mordred's treason and Gawain's hotheadedness bring Arthur from the height of the wheel of fortune to the dark pit of which he dreams before he is defeated in battle. He is finally ferried away by ladies who could heal him but arrive too late to save his life because Sir Bedevere fails to signal them by hurling Arthur's sword into a


lake. Bedevere twice lies to the dying king, claiming to have seen nothing but "waters wap and waves wan" (MD 21.5). Such moral ritual in Arthurian romance constantly reminds us that chivalry is a spiritual condition.

Moreover, what we know about Malory and his first printer, William Caxton, supports the overall conclusion of the scene: that keepers of customs should mind the ideals of Arthurian chivalry. For Malory promotes Tristram as one who named those practices by which good men may distinguish social classes. Tristram represents an ideal which those who pretend to be gentlemen should strive to imitate:

Wherefore, as meseemeth, all gentlemen that bear old arms ought of right to honor Sir Tristram for the goodly terms that gentlemen have and use and shall do unto the Day of Doom, that thereby in a manner all men of worship may discover a gentleman from a yeoman and a yeoman from a villain. For he that gentle is will draw him to gentle deeds and follow the noble customs of gentlemen. (MD 8.3)

In a similar way, William Caxton—who first printed Malory's text—viewed the immediate present as an age of decline, while the past was a time when men worked for the common good. For Caxton "the golden age is almost any other place and time than late fifteenth-century England."[41] He insisted his books were not for ordinary people but for nobles and the educated. Caxton claimed he printed romances because they assisted moral instruction. As a printer working in Westminster Abbey to supply aristocratic patrons, Caxton doubtless regarded King Arthur as symbolic of a social order that he also promoted with texts like the Book of Good Manners , the Feats of Arms , and the Knight of the Tower .

The hierarchical values set forth in the Morte Darthur promote the ideology of the ruling class for which Caxton published and Malory most probably wrote. Yet the Morte Darthur does not therefore remain the prisoner of a single social class. Caxton never defined his noble readers, and "probably such remarks were meant to indicate that his works


were fashionable rather than provincial."[42] As Northrop Frye reminds us, "An upper-class audience is inclined to favor romance and fantasy in its entertainment, because the idealizing element in such romance confirms its own image of itself." At the same time, "whatever an upper-class audience likes is probably going to be what a middle-class audience will like too."[43]

The Morte Darthur retains its appeal because it conjures a distant past of moral excellence, a sense of natural law that persuaded medieval audiences to venerate a former time. Both Malory and Caxton associated what they considered to be good values, such as courtesy and gentleness, with the "custom and usage" of medieval chivalry.[44] For Malory and Caxton, the word "custom" was part of the discourse of chivalry that belonged to an earlier era, already outmoded as they worked. To his translation of Ramon Lull's Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry , for which the prose Lancelot was an important source, Caxton adds an appeal for a revival of what chivalry represents:

O ye knights of England! Where is the custom and usage of noble chivalry that was used in those days? What do ye now but frequent baths and play at dice? And some not well advised use not honest and good rule: against all order of knighthood. Leave this. Leave it and read the noble volumes of St. Grail, of Lancelot, of Galahad, of Tristram, of Perseforest, of Percival, of Gawain, and many more.[45]

Malory also appeals to the past as a source of values. When he expresses his disappointment in fickle Englishmen, he does so by conjuring the image of a world usurped by foul customs: just what the Weeping Castle represents. His strong rhetoric gives the illusion of historical immediacy to this passage, where Arthur's knights desert him. It is one of Malory's longest personal asides:

Lo ye all Englishmen. See ye not what a mischief here was? For he that was the most king and noblest knight of the world, and most loved the fellowship of noble knights, and by him they all were up-holden, and yet might not these Englishmen hold them content with


him. Lo thus was the old custom and usages of this land, and men say that we of this land have not yet lost that custom. Alas! this is a great default of us Englishmen, for there may no thing us please no term. (MD 21.1)

As E. K. Chambers notes, this lament is not a political analysis of the fifteenth-century "breakdown of law and order . . . of the corruption of officials, of the excessive taxation, of the ruin of the countrysides by the enclosure of agricultural land for pasture."[46] Nor can we find in it such details as would have contributed to Erich Auerbach's notion that over the centuries literature grew in its capacity to represent reality. By glossing over motivations, Malory's elliptical style establishes the romantic mood readers of English associate with tales of the Round Table. Malory completely eliminates the prose Tristan 's story of how Dialetes founded a custom to punish Christians who arrived at his island. He gives little hint of what the French text makes clear, that Breunor himself is forced to maintain a practice he finds repulsive. Yet Malory retains the sense of entrapment so brilliantly narrated by the romance he turned into English.

Justice may require a rendering of what is due, but what is due depends on the acceptance of standards. When a group or a society accepts a questionable standard of justice—such as the foul custom maintained at the Weeping Castle—a gap opens up, creating a felt need for change. If the solution is merely a matter of passing a new and better law, there is no problem. But in a system of customary law, where custom is itself the standard of justice, even a bad custom may be justified. Change requires more than the sudden intervention of force; a society must accept a new vision of itself, which means redefining its customs and accepting, to a certain extent, a new morality. The custom of the Weeping Castle offers an abstract image of legitimacy and superiority to which Tristram objects and conforms with reluctance, but which he nonetheless honors, until a better, more chivalrous custom establishes its own legitimacy.




Chapter Three
Boiardo's Castle Cruel

Italian humanism and interpretive anthropology—as well as chivalric romances—alike make an issue of how to respond to local customs, the subject of the episode of Castle Cruel in Matteo Maria Boiardo's romantic epic Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love, 1482), a work nearly contemporaneous with Malory's Morte Darthur . Cicero's thought, pervasive in fifteenth-century Italy, grounds moral feeling not in experience or custom but on right reason founded on universal justice. Justice is not tested by the standard of utility, because "if it is a penalty, the fear of punishment, and not the wickedness itself, that is to keep men from a life of wrongdoing and crime, then no one can be called unjust, and wicked men ought rather to be regarded as imprudent."[1] Nor is justice "conformity to written laws and national customs" ("obtemperatio scriptis legibus institutisque populorum"), since any ruler who thinks it profitable might alter the laws:

But the most foolish notion of all is the belief that everything is just which is found in the customs or laws of nations. Would that be true, even if these laws had been enacted by tyrants?[2]

Instead, Nature distinguishes justice and injustice, honor and dishonor.[3] According to Cicero's De Legibus , "virtue" (the proper excel-


lence of anything) "is reason completely developed, and this is certainly natural; therefore everything honourable is likewise natural" ("est enim virtus perfecta ratio, quod certe in natura est; igitur omnis honestas eodem modo").[4]

Against this Ciceronian background of moral certainty, Boiardo's story of Castle Cruel represents what Clifford Geertz, in an important essay on cultural relativity, calls "the strange construed."[5] Geertz defines humanism as a belief that there are "similarities between ourselves and others removed in place or period." As a result, distant "imaginative products can be put at the service of our moral life."[6] Humanism typically looks to the past "as a source of remedial wisdom, a prosthetic corrective for a damaged spiritual life."[7] According to Geertz, however, traditional humanism fails to comprehend the moral imagination because it does not recognize the unstable nature of moral images and because it pays inadequate attention to the present position of the moral observer. The resulting instability of the moral imagination calls into question the humanist understanding of history. But is the imaginative world of the Innamorato so limited, or does Boiardo's narrative prefigure Geertz's anthropology?

Indeed, the moral imagination may express itself in fiction or ethnography. Both forms may be regarded, in Geertz's phrase, as "groping representations."[8] Boiardo relies on this overlap in his Orlando Innamorato when he uses the custom of the castle topos to make the story of Castle Cruel an allegory of the Other. The story is an episode in the larger, interlaced romance, and the French knight whose adventure brings him to Castle Cruel is Ranaldo. At first Ranaldo's method for eliminating foul customs seems simple enough. Arm yourself, smash the foul local custom, and thank God for putting you on the right side. Yet Boiardo's thick text resists any easy imposition of meaning. The obvious implication that Castle Cruel allegorically mirrors Ranaldo's cruel rejection of Angelica's love, the way Marchino's savagery almost justifies the measures taken by his jealous wife, and the violence of Ranaldo's assault on the local population undercut the success of the hero.[9]


The story of Caste Cruel occurs quickly in the poem, occupying little more than a canto. Almost every line, however, contributes to a moral maze. We may identify three divisions: the events that bring Ranaldo to Castle Cruel, the origin of the custom there, and Ranaldo's triumph.

The episode occurs early in the Orlando Innamorato when a ship carrying Ranaldo arrives at Castle Cruel. A gray-haired man asks Ranaldo to rescue his daughter from a giant, but when Charlemagne's knight tries to interfere, a second giant emerges from a castle on a hill and lassoes Ranaldo with a grappling hook. Ranaldo shakes off the hook, but when he chases the second giant across a stone bridge, the villain uses his hook to unhinge the slab, sending Ranaldo hurting into an underwater cavern where he is bound in chains and hauled before an old hag who explains the origin of the local custom, which he must endure.[10]

"By rumor, maybe, you have heard,"
The old hag said, "the bloody ways
And customs that this fortress keeps.
Now, in the time you have alive
(Your death will be delayed till dawn—
But don't believe you can survive),
In this time, I'll recount to you
The cause that had this course proclaimed."

"Forse per fama avrai sentito dire,"
Dicea la vecchia, "la crudele usanza
Che questa rocca ha preso a mantenire.
Ora nel tempo che a viver te avanza,
Poi che a diman s'indugia il tuo morire,
(Ché già de vita non aver speranza),
In questo tempo ti voglio contare
Qual cagion fece la usanza ordinare."
        (OI  1.8.27)[11]

Once upon a time Castle Cruel was called Altaripa, the home of a courteous knight named Grifone and his wife, Stella. Marchino, the


husband of the woman telling the story (she is never named), fell in love with Stella when visiting the castle. He left and then returned with his retainers to murder Grifone, putting everyone in the castle to the sword except for Stella, whom he then seeks to seduce. Stella resists, and with the help of Marchino's jealous wife, she takes vengeance for her dead husband by serving Marchino his children baked in a pie. Infuriated and seeking his own revenge, Marchino ties Stella to Grifone's dead body, then rapes her. When his jealous wife arrives with a rescue party led by the King of Orcagna, Marchino slits Stella's throat and rapes her again. He is captured and tortured to death by King Poliferno, who leaves Marchino's wife in charge of the castle. She has Stella buried beside her husband. Nine months later, her body gives birth to a monster born from Marchino's seed. Marchino's wife rings the monster's tomb with a wall to protect her people and then reverses the hospitality that had brought her husband into contact with Stella as she oversees the local custom of feeding passersby to the monster.

When Ranaldo learns he will be thrown into the pit to die, he asks if he can keep his sword and armor. Marchino's wife agrees to his request because she believes his sword will be useless against the invulnerable monster. In fact Ranaldo effectively uses Fusberta to beat the monster's bones until the ursine beast snatches it from his grasp. The creature cannot wield the sword but threatens Ranaldo with its claws and teeth until Ranaldo manages to climb onto a beam, suspended ten feet off the ground, where he spends the night.

At dawn Angelica arrives to rescue him. Under the influence of the stream of love, she longs for Ranaldo, but he has drunk from the fountain of Tristan and hates her. When he refuses to fly away with her, the enchantress throws a cake of sticky wax into the monster's mouth, the traditional method for overcoming Cerberus, the guardian of Hell in Virgil's Aeneid and Dante's Inferno . She also spreads a noose of knotted rope along the ground and leaves behind a noiseless file ("una gran lima, che segava sorda," OI 1.9.10).[12] As a result of Angelica's intervention, the monster finds its teeth stuck together and, hopping about in rage, it


trips the noose and is caught fast. Ranaldo descends and recovers his sword, but when he finds Fusberta ineffective, he rides the beast bareback and strangles it with his hands.

Convinced he will starve if he remains in the tomb, Ranaldo seeks a way out and finds Angelica's file, which he mistakenly attributes to God. He uses it to open the grating, but even though a "deaf file" is a tool for thieves,[13] his escape is discovered and he faces six hundred scruffy inhabitants by the time he emerges. At this point his sword becomes effective again and Ranaldo single-handedly slaughters or chases away the local population. Marchino's wife retreats with her closest followers to her castle, but when Ranaldo bursts in, she tumbles to her death from a high window. Ranaldo, like Marchino earlier, leaves no one alive. He returns to the seashore, and another adventure begins.

Is Ranaldo's final violence justified? The question arises in a thick context of past wrongs and vengeance. Jo Ann Cavallo has pointed out that the grisly origins of Castle Cruel hardly justify sacrificing Ranaldo:

No reason is ever offered as to the necessity of feeding the monster with human flesh instead of killing it or leaving it to die in the sepulcher. Indeed, there is no indication that the lives of the townspeople are in any way endangered if they do not nourish the monster, and there exists no agreement between them and it as in traditional tales of this sort.[14]

Cavallo concludes that the townspeople maintain the custom because they are contaminated by violence, which they seek to exorcise by ritual sacrifice. When their sacrifice fails because the intended victim kills their monster, the locals self-destruct from the guilt they now have no way to release. They attack Ranaldo but flee from his force; Marchino's wife throws herself from a window; and in the end the castle is completely deserted. This Girardian interpretation is brilliant but it oversimplifies Ranaldo's violent response.

Cavallo regards Ranaldo as a type of Grail knight who is able to learn from the experience of others and then take appropriate action. She ar-


gues, correctly I think, that for Boiardo the purpose of reading, or listening to, a novella is to recover a moral lesson and then act on it. "The link between learning through (allegorical) fiction and acting virtuously in the civic arena was a basic tenet of Humanist thought," she explains, and then goes on to show how Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato writes this linkage into its internal fiction on the occasions when the heroes Ranaldo and Orlando must act on the moral of a narrative they have previously heard or seen depicted in art. It is her conclusion I object to, for she argues that Ranaldo correctly interprets the story he hears: "Ranaldo understands that he must act to destroy the evil monster and free the town of such a curse" as human sacrifice entails.

It may be pointed out that Ranaldo hardly needs a story to teach him he must kill the monster to survive, nor is it entirely clear that his ensuing behavior removes the curse of cruel violence. After Ranaldo manages to defeat the monster with Angelica's assistance, he breaks out of the arena and then kills anyone who does not run away. His violent attack drives Marchino's wife to throw herself off a balcony to her death, as the local pattern of cruelty grips Ranaldo too. As he eliminates all the inhabitants of the castle, he succumbs to the ways of Castle Cruel:

Blood has already gilt the chamber,
But still Ranaldo swings his sword.
To write the end of this affair,
He left no living soul in there.

Fatta è la sala già di sangue un smalto:
Sempre mena Ranaldo intorno il brando.
Acciò che tutto il fatto a un ponto scriva,
Non rimase al castello anima viva.
        (OI  1.9.35)

Cavallo cites Boccaccio's distinction between righteous anger and blind wrath to explain Ranaldo's violent solution to Castle Cruel. But is Ranaldo's final outburst really justified by righteous anger? Or is he not swept up in the custom of vengeance that characterizes Castle Cruel?


The foul deeds of Marchino create a ripple effect through time, first trapping Stella, then Marchino's wife, and then Ranaldo, forcing each character to formulate his or her own violent response to past wrongs. Marchino's wife justifies her present cruelty to strangers by the past pain of jealousy caused by her now dead husband. Yet her personal misfortune cannot excuse the suffering caused by the practice of human sacrifice she oversees. Stella, too, ties herself to the past. Her pathology is harder to see, since her situation is so tragic, but the point is that law must concern itself with the present, not retribution for what cannot be corrected. To do otherwise is to create the kind of escalating violence that characterizes Orgagna, where Caste Cruel is located.

According to the self-justifying story Marchino's wife tells Ranaldo, Marchino no sooner sees Stella than he burns for her. A few days later he ambushes and kills her husband Grifone, murders everyone at Altaripa (Grifone's castle, later renamed Castle Cruel), and then sets his siege before Stella, who refuses his advances. Considering the cruelty Marchino is about to show, it is strange that he seeks to persuade Stella to love him instead of overpowering her. Marchino may be regarded as one who fails completely in what Stephen Greenblatt has called improvisation, the ability to insinuate oneself into another's system of beliefs.[15] Violent as he is, Marchino tries to practice courtly love.[16] Stella, however, turns out to live by a code closer to the primitive violence that Marchino temporarily suspends.

Boiardo wove images of crude violence, drawn from classical literature, into the tale of origins that explains the custom of Castle Cruel. Herodotus (whom Boiardo translated) attributed the Trojan War to an overreaction on the part of the Greeks to the rape of Helen: Boiardo combines this historical account with the curse of the House of Atreus and the stories of Medea and Philomela. According to myth, Atreus invited his brother Thyestes to his home and served him his sons for dinner. The cycle of violence that ensued ceased only with the founding of the Athenian law courts. Ranaldo's sword substitutes for the law courts as a symbol of justice. (The identification is ironic, however, since Or-


lando calls his Durindana the sword of justice during his duel with Ranaldo).[17] Boiardo further romanticizes his story as Marchino's wife kills her own children. Like Ovid's Medea, she does so because she hates her husband. Boiardo would have been prompted to the parallel by the name of Medeas, a lecherous woman who rules a castle named "Crudele" in the Tavola Ritonda .[18] Medeas makes love to various knights until they are overcome defending her castle, a custom that guarantees her a fresh man for her bed every year or so. Her passion rules her life, just as jealousy deranges Marchino's wife.

Although Marchino's wife kills her children, it is Stella who serves them to their victim. Boiardo draws details for this part of his story from Ovid's account of Tereus, Philomela, and Procne. When Procne discovers that her husband Tereus has raped and mutilated her sister Philomela, she kills their son Itys and serves him to Tereus for dinner. Procne is aware of the power of tradition, which she uses to create a pretense for a ritual meal: "the false pretext that she invents / is this—only a husband may partake / of such a sacred feast, an ancient rite / still celebrated in her own birthplace." During dinner Tereus calls out for his son, and Procne answers from the next room, "The one you want is with you now—inside" ("intus habes, quem poscis," Metamorphoses 6.655), using words that Stella echoes when she serves Marchino:[19]

The woman's hair was wild, her face
Was haughty, her mind confident,
As she informed him, "Both those heads
Belong to your sons: Bury them!
Do not concern yourself about
The rest—you ate it; you're the tomb!"

La damisella aveva il crin disciolto,
La faccia altiera e la mente sicura,
Ed a lui disse: "L'uno e l'altro volto
Son de' toi figli: dàgli sepoltura.
Il resto hai tu nel tuo ventre sepolto:
Tu il divorasti: no aver più cura."
        (OI  1.8.44)


It would seem that Boiardo alters the story by letting the rape victim speak (in Ovid's story, Philomela's tongue has been cut out, so that her sister must speak for her), but in fact Stella has not yet been raped, only propositioned. This change in the pattern of Ovid's myth suggests why Stella is just as much an object of hatred as Marchino. Herodotus said that the Persians believed the Greeks were excessive in the vengeance they sought for raped Helen since men believe no woman is raped against her will. In Orcagna, which Boiardo locates within the boundaries of ancient Persia, Marchino's wife seems to share this sentiment. She bakes the pie with her children in it, but she lets Stella serve it. In this way Marchino's wife directs her "zelosia" at Stella as well as her wayward husband.[20] (Ovid has Procne, the wife, and Philomela, the victim, cook together; Procne serves Tereus dinner, then Philomela flings his son's head at him).

When Stella (perhaps duped by Marchino's wife) serves Marchino his children, she reveals her tragic inability to shed the past. She does her cruel deed to avenge her dead husband, not herself, for she has not yet been violated. She proudly but naively tells Marchino what she has done, as if her vengeance were a point of honor. Marchino catches on to her motivation and seeks to match it when devising a suitable punishment for her ("But what revenge could placate him, / Considering her crime?").[21] His solution supports the theme of Castle Cruel, which presents the tragic influence of the past in subtle ways. Widowhood is a social status defined by a woman's past. The widow Stella remains steadfastly bound to her dead husband emotionally, so Marchino binds her to him physically. We usually locate this gesture in the practice of Virgil's Mezentius, who would "link the living with / dead bodies, fitting hand to hand and face / to face" ("componens manibusque manus atque oribus ora").[22] But Boiardo adds a final detail that reinforces the central theme of Castle Cruel. He remembered from Ovid that Tereus rapes Philomela repeatedly after her tongue is cut out, and Marchino does the same thing. Knowing he is being observed by the rescue party of the King of Orgagna, Marchino does not try to get away but instead slits Stella's throat and "used her, used her though she's dead" ("Ma usava


con lei morta tutta fiata," OI 1.8.47). Marchino's violence against the prone body of Stella, tied to her dead husband, stresses one final time the necessity to repeat the past imaged by mindless violence, while also drawing on demonic folklore to account for the birth of a monster.

Stella, Marchino's wife, Marchino, and Ranaldo—even, at some remove, the spurned Angelica and Malagise, whose magic brought Ranaldo to Castle Cruel because Ranaldo would not release him from his debt to Angelica[23] —permit the past to justify their acts of cruelty. The moral imagination, in Geertz's analysis, does not simplify uncertainties, but multiplies them. Moral images like Castle Cruel are generally confused because they are mediated, seen through someone else's eyes. As an example Geertz draws on a description of suttee, the burning of widows, given by a nineteenth-century Danish traveler to the South Pacific. The collision of beauty and cruelty, when women are sacrificed in the lush island world of Bali, produces an unstable aesthetic experience that confuses "high artistry" with "high cruelty."[24] This unstable imaginative construction forces the traveler to question the morality of what he observes and readers to question the adequacy of their own moral analysis.

Geertz identifies three literary frames in his example. The first, the factual basis of a story, corresponds in Boiardo's story to Marchino's sudden passion and murder of Grifone, the revenge, the rape, the resulting monster. The narrator's account forms the second frame. But the ability of a young Dane, or of Marchino's wife, to perceive events is inevitably limited by a third frame, the literary categories at their disposal. How could a northern Protestant conceptualize Bali? Similarly, Geertz explains, a literary England based on "playing fields, sunsets, nightingales, Country Life, dulce et decorum est , and Shropsbire Lad eroticism" could not adequately respond to the Western Front.[25] At Castle Cruel this inadequacy characterizes the tale told by Marchino's wife, who misperceives Stella as a widow who threatens her own marriage.[26]

On two occasions the imaginative categories of Marchino's wife prove insufficient to record the horror of what went on. The first failure


occurs when she tries to explain why Marchino raped Stella, slit her throat, and raped her again instead of fleeing at the approach of the King of Orgagna. "At last Orgagna's king arrived," relates Marchino's wife, "with me and a large company," and she gropes to find a motive for her husband.

And when he saw us in the field,
Marchino slit fair Stella's throat.
He did not spare her yet for this,
But used her, used her though she's dead.
I think he did it just to claim
He was the lewdest man who'd lived .

In questo tempo venne il re de Orgagna,
Ed io con esso, con molta brigata;
Ma come fumo visti alla campagna,
Marchin la bella Stella ebbe scanata.
Né ancor per questo dapoi la sparagna,
Ma usava con lei morta tutta fiata.
Credo io che il fece sol per darse vanto
Che altro om non fusse scelerato tanto .
        (OI  1.8.47; my emphasis)

Her "groping representation" depends on a certain way of viewing the world. E. M. W. Tillyard, a critic much derided recently for seeming to idealize the social order of the Renaissance, nonetheless knew Boiardo, and it is hard not to think of Marchino when he writes, "It was far easier to be very wicked and think yourself so than to be a little wicked and without a sense of sin."[27] Violence "could afford to indulge itself," wrote Tillyard, "just because those standards were so powerful."[28] For Tillyard and for Marchino's wife, Marchino's behavior illustrates a point a trained humanist like Boiardo would have found in Cicero, that the admission of a villain as to the atrocity of his crime proves the existence of a universal standard of morality:


But if it were a penalty and not Nature that ought to keep men from injustice, what anxiety would there be to trouble the wicked when the danger of punishment was removed? But in fact there has never been a villain so brazen as not to deny that he had committed a crime, or else invent some story of just anger to excuse its commission, and seek justification for his crime in some natural principle of right.[29]

Marchino's wife can only account for Marchino's insane behavior on the theory that Marchino knew what he was doing. That theory depends on a concept of natural law that, as Cicero describes it, traces rape as a violation of divine will back to the origins of the universe. No statute is necessary, for rape, according to Cicero, is wrong whether a law against it exists or not:

For the divine mind cannot exist without reason, and divine reason cannot but have this power to establish right and wrong. . . . Even if there was no written law against rape at Rome in the reign of Lucius Tarquinius, we cannot say on that account that Sextus Tarquinius did not break that eternal Law by violating Lucretia, the daughter of Tricipitinus! For reason did exist, derived from the Nature of the universe, urging men to right conduct and diverting them from wrongdoing, and this reason did not first become Law when it was written down, but when it first came into existence, and it came into existence simultaneously with the divine mind.[30]

Marchino's wife believes her husband found it easy, in Tillyard's formula, "to be very wicked . . . just because those standards [of natural law] were so powerful." Yet her theory is inadequate to account for Marchino's slow and persuasive wooing of Stella, his unexpected if unsuccessful refusal to use force when he has Stella in his complete power. His love siege of Stella, not his success, causes the jealousy of his wife. Nor is Marchino the only monster his wife fails adequately to describe. She also lacks words or passes up the chance to portray the beast she nurtures. Although she gives Ranaldo a reason for her silence on the


subject, it only reinforces her inability fully to face her situation: "I won't describe its awful shape, / Because you will be killed by it" ("La orribil forma sua non te descrivo, / Perché sarai da lui di vita privo," OI 1.8.51).

In contrast to her silence, the poem's narrator describes the monster, and he does so in a way that stresses the inadequate discourse of Marchino's wife. For the tone of the story shifts as soon as the narrator's words extol the monster's exterior:

But I believe you all would like
To know the monster's outer form.
Let me first tell you of its birth:
The devil made it, that's for sure,
Using the seed Marchino left
Within the woman whom he'd murdered.

Ma credo io che a voi tutti sia in talento
Di quel mostro saper la forma aperta.
Acciò che abbiati il suo cominciamento,
Fiè11o il demonio, questa è cosa certa,
Del seme de Marchin, che 'n corpo porta
Quella donzella che da lui fu morta.
        (OI  1.8.56)

The narrator makes the monster amusing, rather than demonic. The poet's voice is civil and cultured as he observes the animal's snout, wide mouth, impressive teeth, revolving horns, and fearful voice. In part this shift occurs because Boiardo here gives prominence to the love allegory that never completely disappears from Castle Cruel. For Boiardo's story humorously reverses a pattern originally established in the vulgate prose Lancelot . In that story Lancelot overcomes the strange customs of Dolorous Guard coincident with the beginning of his intrigue with Queen Guenevere.[31] He then changes the name of the castle to reflect his love affair, calling it Joyous Guard. Since Ranaldo refuses a love affair, the naming pattern moves the other way in the Innamorato . Ranaldo goes


first to Palazo Zoioso, which sounds like Gioiosa Guardia, the name of Joyous Guard in the Tavola Ritonda . Fortified by the fountain of Tristan, he resists the lush, Bali-like greenery of a sumptuous love nest arranged by Angelica (OI 1.8.1-7). As a result, he is then ferried to Castle Cruel.

Castle Cruel, like Dolorous Guard, symbolizes unconsummated love: the cruelty of Ranaldo. The narrator points out that the monster of Castle Cruel runs on two feet. He compares it to a bear in one passage and in another notes that it has claws that resemble a bear's, although they are larger (OI 1.8.58). It does not seem a coincidence that Malagise tells Angelica that Ranaldo is more cruel than any bear (OI 1.9.9). The monster of Castle Cruel in fact wittily mirrors Ranaldo's beastly behavior toward Angelica.

The narrator's smooth description of the dreadful, deformed monster thereby illustrates a process that Geertz calls "translation." Purporting to offer a detailed look at the features of this beast of foul custom, Boiardo domesticates evil and empties it of terror. As he shifts from Marchino's murderous ways to Ranaldo's strange predicament, the narrator replays the story in a different literary key. It is as if to say, the solution to the monster of evil custom is . . . the right attitude. But the shift in tone does more than show the poet's cleverness. It also stresses the instability of the moral imagination.

Boiardo's urbane tone seems to hamper but in fact serves the humanist impulse to put otherwise distant, imaginative products "at the service of our moral life."[32] The tone of the story changes because moral images are not simple. This complexity is also illustrated by the sticky wax, knotted rope, and soundless file that Angelica gives to Ranaldo to overcome the otherwise invulnerable monster of custom.

Angelica's sticky wax is a traditional means for calming a guardian of hell. The Sibyl drugs Cerberus with a mouthful of honeycake as Aeneas descends to the underworld, and Dante slips by another Cerberus when Virgil flings mud into the three throats of the monster who guards gluttons.[33] But Ranaldo's situation requires a rope and a file as well. The knotted rope is a version of the chains of love, well illustrated in love


lyrics such as Boiardo's Amorum Libri and the Schifanoia frescoes. Angelica suffers from denial, and her gnawing torment explains the symbolism of the silent file she gives Ranaldo, an image Boiardo may have borrowed from Dante: "O painful and pitiless file / that silently wears away my life" ("Ahi angoscioso e dispietata lima / che sordamente la mia vita scemi").[34]

Ranaldo must rely on these devices because his sword Fusberta—the sign of justice wielded by an outsider—proves ineffective against the monster of local custom. The rope and file reflect the allegorical nature of the beast Ranaldo faces, a monster who shadows Ranaldo's missing desire for Angelica and who also serves as an instrument of human sacrifice. These two functions, the libidinal and the anthropological, were traditionally combined by the figure of Antaeus.

Like the monster of Castle Cruel, Antaeus could only be killed in a certain way. When Hercules discovered that Antaeus regained his strength every time he fell to earth, the hero killed him by holding him over his head and squeezing him. The cycle of renewal led Colluccio Salutati, following Fulgentius, to interpret the battle of Hercules and Antaeus as a battle between the spirit and the flesh: Hercules' killing Antaeus represents his overcoming desire.[35] The Antaeus myth thus associates air with spirituality and identifies sexuality with the earth. To rescue Ranaldo, Angelica spreads her knotted rope on the ground, but the monster seems to trip it like a snare, suggesting the monster is hung up in the air. Does Angelica intend for Ranaldo to kill a suspended version of himself, thereby fignring the way she saw him, as a Hercules of the spirit, opposed to the flesh? Or does Ranaldo kill the monster on the ground? When Angelica asks Ranaldo to mount her and fly away from Castle Cruel—a proposal Cavallo reads as indecent—sex is associated with flying. The sexual allegory is confused, because one's reading depends on uncertain literary categories.

Boiardo hides how Angelica's noose works, and he only hints that sex is in the air. But Antaeus also represents the alien Other. Like the monster of Castle Cruel, Antaeus in Lucan's Civil War terrorizes the coun-


tryside and murders any strangers who reach his shores.[36] He lives in Libya, and Boiardo glances at the myth later, when Brandimarte lands in the same region of North Africa: a decree commands that all Christians who arrive there be killed (OI 2.27.46). But the Antaeus figure also gave epics a way to sympathize with defeated peoples, who were otherwise demonized by their conquerors. David Quint argues that Antaeus is a "stock epic figure—deriving ultimately from the Pharsalia — for a native resistance that refuses to accept defeat and rises up again and again to oppose its would-be conquerors."[37] Such a figure supports the sense that Castle Cruel cannot be reduced to favoring or condemning violence. Ranaldo kills the monster that keeps the custom of killing travelers at Castle Cruel, but some inhabitants run away and Ranaldo's ensuing massacre was the kind of event conquered peoples used to stoke their resistance, which might break out months or years later. No one in the Innamorato explicitly carries a torch for Castle Cruel, but when, elsewhere in Orcagna, Ranaldo kills a fat blusterer named Rubicone (the type of person who would have served at Castle Cruel and escaped), his deed is not forgotten by other inhabitants.[38]

Our perception of Boiardo's values, particularly his aristocratic attitude to the use of force, is colored by the autocratic rule of the Este family of Ferrara.[39] We need to revise our view of the poet in light of the romance mode of the Innamorato , whose interlaced stories allow past wrongs or insults suddenly to confront a character from an unexpected direction.[40] Too often humanists of Boiardo's strain are thought to stand in stark contrast to that "civic humanism" which Hans Baron defined as the great contribution of fifteenth-century Florence to modern thought.[41] Baron identified three republican virtues: social engagement, an increasingly vernacular humanism, and historical awareness. It can be argued that Boiardo, even though he lived in the shadow of the autocratic Este family, nonetheless gave these virtues an honored place in his thought. First, Boiardo's position as captain of Modena and then Reggio during the last thirteen years of his life counters any notion that the poet was in danger of dropping out of the world of affairs and lapsing into the


contemplative state that Baron found too strongly promoted by earlier humanists. Second, Boiardo's decision to compose the Innamorato in Italian and his career as a translator speak for his commitment to vernacular learning (in contrast, for example, to his uncle Tito Vespasiano Strozzi, who composed an epic to Borso d'Este in Latin).

The issue thus becomes what history meant for Boiardo. The test case Baron proposes is the way the Florentine humanists reassessed ancient Roman politics. Unlike Dante, who placed Brutus and Cassius in the lowest depths of hell for murdering Caesar, later Florentine writers like Leonardo Bruni praised the last defenders of Republican Rome.[42] Bruni went so far as to extoll the veterans of Sulla as the original settlers of his city.[43] This Roman debate was carried on in courts throughout northern Italy and countered by humanists who owed their positions to princes. Lorenzo Valla (whose Latin translation of Herodotus Boiardo translated into Italian) refuted the Florentine position by arguing that Sulla had been Rome's first tyrant. The great works of literature, ran the counterargument, were produced during the period of peace established by the Caesars. It may be as an ironic comment on this debate that Boiardo gives Caesar's falcon eyes (the image Dante bestowed on the first emperor) to Feraguto, an unattractive pagan (OI 1.1.10). In practice, Boiardo composed whenever the peace was maintained by Ercole d'Este, one of those northern Italian tyrants whom Machiavelli, a generation later, yet praised for establishing a balance of power. If so, Boiardo would not fit the mold of a blind imperial supporter, but one who weighed the costs of exchanging peace for submission to a strong central authority.

Despite his affiliation with the Este, Boiardo shared with the Florentines a love affair with the past. The past was not just a source of propaganda or a distant parallel to the present that encouraged a modern to rival antiquity in the vernacular. It was both a moral lesson and an immediate problem. In his sixth Latin eclogue, Boiardo hails the reign of Borso d'Este as the return of "the manners of the olden times and the golden ease of eternal spring" ("et prisci rursum . . . mores / Aureaque


aeterni redierunt otia veris").[44] Boiardo here uses the golden age as a trope for nonviolence, but it also expresses his view of history, which constantly impinges on the present.

Like the chain of violence at Castle Cruel, a pattern of historical pressure recurs throughout Boiardo's poem. An example occurs a few cantos after Castle Cruel, when Ranaldo, in a cave, finds a bloody book, locked to a chain as if in a Renaissance library, and reads of the horrible deeds of Trufaldino, king of Baghdad. Ranaldo then spends his time tracking down and destroying the villain, for Trufaldino turns out to be a character in the main story. Similarly, two knights named Prasildo and Iroldo are first met in a long story told by Fiordelisa; they turn out to be "real" people, who join the battle of Albraca, fought on account of Angelica. Again, demons whom Malagise conjures from his magic manual say that Angelica was first sent to Paris by her father; later King Galafrone also shows up at Albraca. The strangest example of this process that makes travel to the East a journey into history is the encounter with Oberto dal Leone, a legendary knight, but one who also joins the action. Oberto or Uberto dal Leone is the subject of a famous book ("as / The record of his deeds can show"; "Come se vede nel suo libro aperto," OI 1.14.41), who appears in Dragontina's garden.[45]

In short, Boiardo used the past just as Geertz uses the instabilities that inhere in events and perceptions of events, to give value to the moral imagination. Images may have multiple meaning in Boiardo's poem, where the characters' lives are often at cross-purposes. Angelica leaves Ranaldo a silent file that signifies her embarrassment at having to speak for herself in pursuing Ranaldo. Ranaldo, however, takes it for a gift of God that establishes him once again as a deliverer of justice, able to wield his sword.

We might regard Ranaldo as a crusader or conquistador, killing those whom he does not understand. The narrative texture of the Innamorato , however, develops a more complex position. It both respects and questions Cicero's teaching that "Justice is one; it binds all human society and is based on one Law, which is right reason applied to command and


prohibition" ("Est enim unum ius, quo devincta est humana societas, et quod lex constituta una; quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi").[46] The foundation of justice is "our natural inclination to love our fellow men" ("quia natura propensi sumus ad diligendos homines"),[47] an appropriate stance for the Innamorato , a long, often humorous poem about the effects of love. The story asks us, when facing a set of objectionable practices, to recognize a difference between violence and cruelty, not by a bright line test, but by admitting the possibility, if not probability, of something higher, a concept of natural justice, which the humanist tradition once represented, symbolized by the eloquence that Boiardo's poem both mimics and exemplifies.

Critics continue to debate whether Ariosto, whose debt to Boiardo's plot is common knowledge, accepted, ignored, or rejected Boiardo's allegorical mode.[48] It is arguable that, even more than Boiardo, Ariosto made the instability of the moral imagination a theme of his overtly more polished poem. In a late addition to the Furioso (1532), in a scene not dissimilar to Castle Cruel (both are versions of sacrificing outsiders to a local deity), Orlando rescues Olympia from the crude inhabitants of the island of Ebuda. At the same time as he drives an anchor down the gullet of an orc (a sea monster, to which these people feed damsels as penitence to Proteus), an expedition arrives from Ireland and mercilessly slaughters every single Ebudan. Orlando lets the expedition do its work, but he is unsure whether he is witnessing justice or cruelty.[49] Even the Ebudans had a reason for their practice of human sacrifice: they were constrained to it by Proteus.


Chapter Four
Ariosto's Fable of Power

Sweet are the uses of adversity.

Jean-Franois Lyotard has observed that "a prescriptive is validated juridically or politically by a normative (It is a norm that . . . ), ethically by a feeling (fled to the You ought to )."[2] ç In the face of massive social conventions, "social actors" orient their behavior by a conscious or reflexive knowledge of shared norms—language, tradition, society, rules. They play off those norms to manage and transform a situation. They create an arena within which freedom is possible. Johan Huizinga's early modern homo ludens is today's "practical reasoner."[3]

Paradoxically, then, social constraints give individuals definition. The political oppression of Italy, Machiavelli hoped, would produce an Italian prince: oppression forces a people to recognize their abilities, and they produce great leaders as a sort of counterpressure. In a terse passage in The Prince , Machiavelli gave examples from history: as Israel followed Moses when enslaved by the Egyptians, the Persians under the domination of the Medes recognized Cyrus, and the dispersed Athenians turned to Theseus, so Italy, overrun by barbarians, is ready for a prince.[4] The medieval topos of taedium curiae preceded the appearance


of Castiglione's polished courtier, and man's new-stamped identity has been a dominant theme of Renaissance studies since Burckhardt.[5]

In the wake of the sack of Rome—which to some signals the end of the Italian Renaissance—toward the end of his life, Ariosto brilliantly illustrated such modes of resistance to the form and pressure of the times. His Bradamante dramatizes the paradox of freedom in acquiescence during the Tower of Tristan (Rocca di Tristano ) episode, one of the late additions to the Orlando Furioso (1516, rev. 1522, 1532).


Although Pio Rajna long ago traced the custom of the castle topos to episodes in thirteenth-century prose romances such as the Lancelot, Tristan , and Palamedès ,[6] book-length studies of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso do not dwell on Bradamante's confrontation with the custom of the castle convention.[7] Recent critics have assumed that when Ariosto added Bradamante's adventure at the Tower of Tristan to the third edition of his poem, he was continuing his existing theme of the oppression of women. Bradamante, after all, has been not only confined to her parents' home at Montalbano, but forced into the passive role of waiting for Ruggiero, whose Saracen affiliations keep him away from her as he serves King Agramante. After she receives false information that Ruggiero loves someone else, Bradamante decides to sneak away from her watchful parents and seek her betrothed. Before setting out she laments at length because Ruggiero has not come home to her, establishing the mood for her ensuing adventure (OF 32.10-49) at the Tower of Tristan.

The custom of that place follows gendered guidelines, imitating what is probably its main source, Tristan's adventure at Chastel Plor (the Weeping Castle): males joust, females enter a brief beauty contest to determine victory. Peter DeSa Wiggins, as a result, finds that Bradamante's clever solution to the custom that threatens to thrust an innocent woman outside the castle walls "exposes the vulgarity of all such recourse to gender for self-definition."[8] Another critic calls the custom of Tristan's cas-


tle "misogynous" and declares that Bradamante "overthrows" the custom.[9] These summations are somewhat misleading and, like previous commentary, overly restrictive of a complex and important episode.[10] In what follows I hope to show that Bradamante's victory is tactical, not strategic. The Christian heroine does not overcome local custom, she outmaneuvers it. The distinction is important because the episode is about more than the limitations of gender. It illustrates a challenge to the justice of custom itself, which has hardened into a social order.

The Tower of Tristan also corroborates the historical circumstances of its late composition. By the end of the sixteenth century critics of legal thought were arguing that social customs, not statutes, were the basis of national law. Pocock suggests that "we may never know how much of our sense of history is due to the presence in Europe of systems of customary law, and to the idealization of the concept of custom which took place towards the end of the sixteenth century. To it our awareness of process in history is largely owing."[11] Ariosto lived in a civil law society, but he was sensitive to the competing power of custom. Simone Fornari tells us that Ariosto never opened a law book during his attendance at Ferrara's Studio—he read romances instead.[12] In the Tower of Tristan episode, Ariosto redeployed a medieval French convention to mediate the cultural strains felt in Italy during the transitional years that saw the rise of Protestantism, the sack of Rome, and the end of what we call the Italian Renaissance.[13]


A keen observer of human nature, Ariosto was a man whose personality made him the ideal instrument to record a shift in attitude to the past contained in the notion of custom or usage. He loathed institutions at all times—patronage, church preferment, titles (he never used the title his father had bought from the Emperor Frederick III in 1472), marriage, and stilted forms of address (his second satire mocks the Spanish word signor that replaced the heartier Italian fratello in curial speech).[14] In his


third satire, he records how he was sent to Rome in 1513 to congratulate Giovanni de' Medici on his elevation to the papacy. Ariosto found his former friend so puffed by his election as to forbid access, leaving the poet to trudge home in the rain, where he took supper alone in his lodgings.[15] He practiced—but begrudged—persistence, the ability to serve as they do who only stand and wait that characterized the real life of a courtier more than the finer accomplishments Castiglione recommended. On another occasion he wrote to his friend Benedetto Fantino, chancellor to his patron Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, of his failure to reach the newly installed Cardinal Bibbiena, although he knew the man well,

either because he always has around him such a large circle of people that one cannot easily penetrate, or because one has to contend with ten entrance ways before arriving in his presence: such a procedure is obnoxious to me. I am never sure if I will see him, nor would I really try to see either him or any man in that palace, were it not that my regard for you forces me to act against my nature.[16]

Unlike Bradamante, Ariosto could not wave a magic staff to get through the crowd.

In the years after 1515, when the text of the first edition went to press, Ariosto struggled against the system of patronage that structured his life as a courtier. As indifferent to the institutions of Rome as he was to life in the cold climate of Hungary, he left Cardinal Ippolito's service. He waged a lawsuit with the Este over his cousin Rinaldo's inheritance. And then from 1522 to 1525, bowed by financial need, he served at his own suggestion as governor of the Garfagnana, a barbarous mountain province far from Ferrara, far from his mistress Alessandra Benucci Strozzi.

In his fourth satire, the poet complains of the constant noise made by the confluence of rivers beneath his castle walls. A visit to Castelnuovo confirms the tumult, but the noise may also be symbolic of the wild mountain populace whose ways Ariosto struggled to control.[17] As governor of the lawless and rugged Garfagnana he sought to play the part


of Spenser's Artegall, the knight of justice. He would not have the duke think that "through any fault of mine there is lacking justice, equity, or mercy" ("di mia volontà la iustizia, la equità e la misericordia, dove si conviene, non abbia luogo").[18] But if the grim scenes of his Cinque Canti were written during his residence at Castelnuovo, set in a north-south valley formed by slopes so steep that the morning sun emerges only in time to set early in the afternoon, Ariosto rejected them for another lesson he learned there.

For the local people, backed by the duke, refused to give up their weapons, to pay for more than twelve military deputies, or to let Ariosto form a local militia.[19] As captain, Ariosto found himself, like so many Renaissance officials, both constrained by his superiors and at the same time the source of constraint on others. Duke Alfonso permitted him no iron man (Talus) such as Spenser's Artegall would have. Without the proper means to eliminate injustice, Ariosto was forced to maintain order with prudence.

Having survived a bad period, Ariosto returned to Ferrara for the last eight years of his life, tempered by the experience of rule but also relieved of it. He himself acquiesced to the social order—not submitted, but acquiesced. The world was changing during Ariosto's final years, and he quieted his natural longing for individual expression, his distaste for mere social convention, his unblinkered perception of the motives of men and patrons. When he made his four large additions to his poem—the episode of Olympia, the Tower of Tristan, Marganorre,[20] and Ruggiero in Hungary—Ariosto had gained what Emilio Bigi identifies as a new appreciation of the moral and religious values of traditional ethics—courtesy, loyalty, faith in divine providence.[21] He bought a house with its famous inscription "parva sed mihi apta" ("small, but suitable to me"). The house is impressive even today, and the somewhat ironic inscription may have been put there earlier. The house was located, not closer to, but a little farther away from, where Alessandra Benucci lived.[22] Ariosto ultimately married her, but only, it seems, to assure her inheritance. They kept their relationship secret not


because he retained church benefices—Catalano has shown that he had given them up—but because Ariosto was uninterested in the social sanction of wedlock.[23]


If Bradamante's laments for Ruggiero create a personal context for her stay at the Tower of Tristan, an intervening event in the canto suggests a wider arena that embraces the relation of the individual to society. As Bradamante travels toward the Tower of Tristan, she encounters Ullania, who bears a gold shield and is accompanied by three kings. Ullania has been sent by the queen of Iceland to search for a knight worthy to marry the distant queen. Bradamante is not slow to see that discord is sure to seize the Christian camp if Charlemagne allows a contest to determine which knight is best:

She felt that this shield was bound to breed dissensions, quarrels, and immense antagonisms in France among the paladins and others, if Charles made to establish who was supreme champion.

. . . in somma pensa
che questo scudo in Francia sia per porre
discordia e rissa e nimicizia immensa
fra paladini et altri, se vuol Carlo
Chiarir chi sia il miglior.
        (OF  32.60)

Spenser registered this theme when he put a version of the Tower of Tristan at the beginning of the legend of friendship. The principal theme of Book IV is concord, and it marks a transition in The Faerie Queene from private to social virtues.[24] Ullania, however, never accomplishes her disruptive mission.[25]

Another indication of the larger scope within which Ariosto's episode should be seen is that canto 32 begins with perhaps the most powerful image in the poem of the fate of the unprotected when King Agramante


hangs Brunello, the diminutive king of Tingitana. He does so because he seeks a way to please the poem's other great female warrior, Marfisa, who has offered the beleaguered king her services. The war in France is going badly for Agramante at this point in the poem. He has retreated with his army to Arles, not least because his great warrior Rodomonte, driven by guilt over the suicide of Isabella, has retired to his own private castle and, like Achilles, refuses to fight. An outsider even in the Saracen camp, Brunello is helpless because his champion Ruggiero is not present to save him from the gallows. (Brunello's taunting of Marfisa ever since he stole her sword in Boiardo's poem made him a fit offering when Agramante sought her favor.) Bradamante is similarly marked by Ruggiero's absence when she sets out to find him. But she has rhetorical powers that Ariosto denies to the swift thief who stole Sacripante's horse and who, in Boiardo, was a persuasive speaker.[26]

Brooding, then, over Ruggiero's supposed disloyalty as she leaves home, but also concerned about possible discord in the Christian camp, Bradamante lets her reins loose and rides where her horse Rabicano desires after she parts from Ullania (OF 32.62). The weather turns as foul as her thoughts, and she asks a shepherd where she can lodge for the night. Uncommonly precise (Rajna queried, could a shepherd have told her all this?),[27] the shepherd relates a set of rules that, adding to the usual contests of strength and beauty, make the order of arrival of passersby a matter of great importance in determining whether the keepers of the castle will permit lodging or not:

If a knight finds room at the castle on his arrival, the lord of the castle will receive him, but on condition that the guest promises, if others arrive, to go out and joust with them. Should no one else turn up, there is no need for the guest to move; but if someone does arrive, he needs must rearm himself and joust with him, and the one who comes off worse must give up his lodging and go out into the open air.

If two, three, four, or more warriors arrive there first all together, they can lodge there in peace, while whoever arrives alone after


them is faced with a worse proposition: he has to joust with all of them together. Similarly, if a single traveler has arrived first, he will have to joust with the two, three, four, or more who arrive later. So if he has valor, he shall need every bit of it.

Similarly, if a woman or maid, whether accompanied or alone, arrives at this castle, and if, after her, another arrives, the more beautiful is accommodated while the lesser beauty has to stay outside.

Se quando arriva un cavallier, si trova
vòta la stanza, il castellan l'accetta;
ma vuol, se sopravien poi gente nuova,
ch'uscir fuori alla giostra gli prometta.
Se non vien, non accade che si mova:
se vien, forza è che l'arme si rimetta
e con lui giostri, e chi di lor val meno,
ceda l'albergo, et esca al ciel sereno.

Se duo, tre, quattro o più guerrieri a un tratto
vi giungon prima, in pace albergo v'hanno;
e chi di poi vien solo, ha peggior patto,
perché seco giostrar quei più lo fanno.
Così, se prima un sol si sarà fatto
quivi alloggiar, con lui giostrar vorranno
i duo, tre, quattro o più che verran dopo;
sì che s'avrà valor, gli fia a grande uopo.

Non men se donna capita o donzella,
accompagnata o sola a questa ròcca,
e poi v'arrivi un'altra, alla più bella
l'albergo, et alla men star di fuor tocca.
        (OF  32.66-68)

Potential discord characterizes the shepherd's complex set of rules for precedence. In theory, any individual who arrives at the Tower of Tristan faces the possibility that a group will already be there or will later arrive, and in either case the single knight must joust with every member of the group. An individual already part of a group, however,


may chance never to have to joust (or line up in a beauty contest), since someone preceding him in the order of combat may succeed in preserving the group's right to lodging. As Ariosto tells the story, such an advantage for the group is more thematic than practical. Bradamante easily defeats the kings of Norway, Sweden, and Gothland. But the potential remains. Like Spenser's Castle of Couples (FQ 4.1), the castle's custom is designed to punish the single traveler.

So warned, Bradamante arrives at the castle fully informed of the custom and ready to participate, despite the potential hazards—"I know the rules, and mean to observe them" ("che so l'usanza, e di servarla intendo," OF 32.70). She has been preceded by Ullania and her companion knights, who spur faster than the meditative maiden. Seeking shelter, she issues a challenge to the castle's guests. In response, the knights who had hoped to win the queen of Iceland's shield of gold reluctantly leave their hot supper and arm to joust in the cold rain. Bradamante must defeat not just one, but all three of them. Even had she arrived first, the custom would have dictated that she joust each member of a late-arriving group.

Social grouping takes precedence over the order of arrival, and the nature of the group is also significant. Only the knights must fight. Everyone else—the lower classes, the entourage—remain within. Outside, where the moon shines despite the falling rain, on the margins but still part of the game, Bradamante feels like a lover who furtively turns a door key (OF 32.74). She must win three contests, whereas the knights may individually lose and yet, because they are part of a group, still sleep indoors if one of their company defeats her. Bradamante wins in the event, and enters the castle.

The lance of gold that assures her victory serves a double purpose here. Its mere existence undermines the premise of Ullania's mission to use male aggression to create social disorder. Even a weak knight, even a woman, could win the golden shield and gain the hand of the queen of Iceland—or gain entrance to what Ariosto calls a fortresslike castle, the Tower of Tristan—if that person had the golden spear. Moreover, the


spear is a talisman of power, which symbolizes but does not completely explain Bradamante's prowess. Significantly, in the first two editions of Ariosto's poem, Bradamante knows the lance's charm; in the third Ariosto keeps her ignorant of it, increasing the rigor of her struggle against the local custom.

Once Bradamante enters Tristan's Tower, several things happen that comment in subtle ways on what would otherwise be a strange oration on social groupings by the shepherd Bradamante chanced to meet. First, Bradamante takes an oath to defend the custom of the castle. Then, over dinner, she asks about its origin. After dinner, her host suddenly remembers that the custom of the castle requires that Bradamante, as a woman, face Ullania in a beauty contest, since they did not arrive together ("Perchè non vi son giunte amendue a un'ora," OF 32.97). Judgment is quickly passed, but when Ullania is told she must depart, Bradamante finds a way to appeal the verdict. Finally, after the story of origins and after Bradamante wins her right to stay and to retain Ullania, she views a series of panels that illustrate Italy's susceptibility to foreign invasion. Although the interwoven complexity of the poetic context argues against any fixed hermeneutic, any stable interpretation of the Tower of Tristan, these three divisions—the tale of origins, the contest, and the painted panels of the castle—create a protocol of opposition and acquiescence consonant with an aulic, social interpretation.

The center of the episode is Bradamante's reaction to the beauty contest. The castellan calls two old servitors and some women to judge as he holds a quick competition, which Bradamante wins, even though she is disheveled (inculta, OF 32.99) after unhelmeting. The result is that Ullania must leave the castle. Bradamante does not object to the custom or the decision until punishment is pronounced, when Ariosto compares her changed mood to the sudden darkening of the sun by a cloud rising from a valley (OF 32.100). Then, rather than attack the custom, Bradamante objects to the castellan's strict application of it. Her language turns the beauty contest into a contest of law, the castle into a court:


'It does not seem to me that any judgment can be regarded as mature and just unless an audience has first been given to the interested party , her denials and observations taken into account.'

A me non par che ben deciso ,
né che ben giusto alcun  giudicio cada,
ove prima non s'oda quanto  nieghi
la parte o affermi , e sue  ragioni alleghi .
        (OF  32.101; my emphasis)

Armed with a golden spear, fully confident despite her sex, and in rhetorical control, Bradamante does not challenge the custom (the law), but the procedure. Her first tactic is to establish her right to be heard. She does this by claiming to speak for Ullania. By not interrupting her, the castellan in effect lets her take the case: Bradamante calls herself one who is "embracing her cause" ("Io ch'a difender questa causa toglio," OF 32.102), and so she speaks for Ullania. The translation by Barbara Reynolds—"Now, as the counsel for defence"—captures the image of civil order here.[28]

Next Bradamante shifts the focus of the custom, making herself the issue. As well as defense counsel, she becomes the defendant—the issue, the focus of the custom—instead of the silent Ullania. Having put herself in the position of the defendant, she further compels the castellan of the Tower of Tristan into accepting her on whichever terms she chooses, as a maiden or as a warrior. Arguing that her femininity is unverified, Bradamante challenges the castellan to prove she is a woman without stripping her, to deny that men can have long hair, to accept that warriors must not be judged on their beauty (OF 32.102-103). Her logic is flimsy, especially since the keeper of the castle knows her and her family (OF 32.81), but her words are effective because he cannot take any of these positions unequivocally. Flimsy logic is not necessarily no logic, and Bradamante operates like one today who, claiming that he has never established presence in a state that would render him liable to its jurisdiction, must be present to make the denial. Special care is required


when making such an appearance in order to deny one's presence.[29] Bradamante's tricky purpose in raising unanswerable questions about gender identity is to deny the castellan and the custom of the castle jurisdiction over her, thereby challenging the social order.

To deny jurisdiction is not to deny the power of the law. Jurisdiction concerns, rather, the power of the law to reach an individual. Bradamante's entry into the sovereign territory of the caste suggests submission to the local law, but since jurisdiction is unclear, she may yet escape judgment by appealing to a higher, more universal, or separate authority. Such an appeal is as difficult to achieve in real courts as escaping the long arm of the law. Bradamante attempts this defense by creating a moral issue where the custom itself does not raise one. She asks if it is fair that one should lose for lack of beauty what one has gained by valor: "It does not seem to me just to lose through inadequate beauty what I have won by valor at arms" ("Perder per men beltà giusto non parmi / quel c'ho acquistato per virtù con l'armi," OF 32.104). Fairness is never an issue when the procedure of custom is concerned—as distinct from the substance of the custom. It makes no difference to the ancient custom established by Clodione that Bradamante gains entrance first as a knight. Her being inside or outside the castle will not alter the results of the beauty contest, which Clodione established in order to exploit the chivalric practice of Tristan.

Bradamante seems to recognize the irrelevance of her arguments when she caps her discourse by echoing the ancient dualism of the chansons de geste , that Christians are right and pagans wrong. Bradamante threatens to maintain her position, right or wrong, in combat against any challenger, because she believes in her own judgment: "mine is right, his is wrong!" ("che 'l mio sia vero, e falso il suo parere," OF 32.106). The voice of the Furioso readily points out that Bradamante gets her way, ultimately, because she successfully threatens the castellan: "Bradamante persuaded their host, with many arguments and well-chosen words (but especially with her concluding remark )" ("al signor de l'albergo persuade / con ragion molte e con parlare accorto, / ma molto


più con quel ch'al fin concluse ," OF 32.106; my emphasis). The amused, hectoring narrator quickly shifts attention away from what, to that moment, has been Bradamante's successful manipulation of the custom. That Ariosto's narrator jealously steals her thunder replays once again the very nature of Bradamante's exertion of counterpressure against the voice of authority. Her terms make her a winner only if she is a warrior. Her sword parodies the sword of justice. As a result, Bradamante's threat exposes the injustice of force that underlies laws binding the social order.


In the episode of the Tower of Tristan, details of which Spenser borrowed for Britomart's adventures, Ariosto considers the individual who struggles against the oppression of a social institution. By making the focus of the "custom of the castle" a woman, Ariosto finds a way to figure the weakness of even a strong individual. The valorization of Bradamante's acquiescence to unreasonable convention or sheer power is supported by the two major digressions to Bradamante's adventure. These two wings, so to speak, of the Tower of Tristan episode are, first, the story told by the keeper of the castle about the origin of the evil custom, and second, the political prophecies pictured in the castle's gallery.

The founder of the custom of the castle is Clodione, the son of Fieramont—that Pharamond of Shakespeare and French legend who is the supposed founder of French law.[30] To justify his own conduct, the castellan tells of the arrival once upon a time of Tristan, a stranger, at Clodione's castle. Clodione is a jealous man, who refuses to allow Tristan into his home where he keeps a wary eye on his wife. Angered by this inhospitable gesture, Tristan challenges not just Clodione, but Clodione and his ten knights. Tristan adds the provision that after he defeats the group, its members must lodge outside (OF 32.87). Clodione has enough of a sense of honor that he feels compelled to accept Tristan's challenge ("Clodion, to avoid suffering this humiliation, risked meeting


his death"; "Per non patir quest'onta, va il figliuolo / del re di Francia a rischio de la morte," OF 32.87), but his force and that of his men are insufficient. Tristan defeats everyone and sends the son of the king of France outside for the night.

After he expels Clodione, Tristan suggests that while Clodione is out in the cold, he might want a woman. He teases him for losing, and claims that on the premise that only the brave deserve the fair, Clodione cannot be allowed to have his fair wife. Instead, Tristan offers to send forth a less beautiful woman with whom he had been traveling.[31] Then, because the story turns on the relativity of insider and outsider, of one who is in a group and one who is a stranger, it is fitting that Tristan tries to show Clodione the ennobling power of love, to suggest that love should lead him so welcome others into his house, not blind him with jealousy. Clodione rejects the offer of the woman, and he fails to learn the lesson of hospitality. From his nocturnal vantage outside in the wind, Clodione feels only the effects of force, not the persuasion of pedagogy. He sees that the strongest knight remains inside the castle. And he listens to Tristan, the exemplar of chivalry, demean a woman who lacks beauty.

Following Tristan's departure, Clodione turns Tristan's taunt into a rule of law. He establishes a new social practice based on Tristan's cavalier attitude toward women. The new custom is that only the strongest knight may stay inside the castle, and only the most beautiful woman. Clodione, then, overturns Tristan's lesson in hospitality by twisting Tristan's mocking threat. As a result Clodione's rules stand symbolically for the original act of injustice, the result of a clash of two sets of values, whose unequal resolution the castle comes to symbolize.

That gendered guidelines represent more than a local example of misogyny becomes clear if we compare Ariosto's episode to its main sources, the customs maintained by Brunor in the prose Tristan and by the son of Galehot le Brun in Gyron le Courtoys . In the first story, with its obvious echoes of the vulgate cycle and Grail story, the custom of the Weeping Castle is said to derive from the days of Joseph of Arimathea,


who converted all of England except for the Isle of the Giant. The ruling giant, named Dialetes, is wounded and unable to resist Joseph's missionaries when they first arrive, but later he struggles to restore paganism. Christianity alienates Dialetes from himself, causing him to do evil.

A later example of the custom of the castle, which Ariosto knew, removes the radical implications of cultural otherness found in the prose Tristan . The theme of honor—of a particularly cloying kind—marks the late thirteenth-century Gyron , a romance whose quality is well below that of the prose Tristan .[32] In this popular continuation, Gyron approaches a tower called the Passaige Perilleux where he must fight twenty knights and then, if victorious, the lord of the tower. He learns what lies ahead from Sagremor, who sits under a tree, moaning.[33] Gyron knows at once that, without doubt, this is the passage that Galehot le Brun, an excellent knight, had established. He wonders if he should take on this challenge. Many times he has heard that the perilous passage is one of the greatest adventures in Logres.[34] He is with Abilan the stranger. On and on they ride. They see the tower. It is fine. They see a stone with red letters. The letters say, "This is the perilous passage, where one knight encounters twenty. Be warned that every knight whom adventure brings here on this road will face this custom before going forward. Four knights will succeed."[35] It says that the first was Galehot le Brun. Also Danayn le roux. Nothing else appears. Abilan loses, but Gyron wins and meets the lord of the tower, who is the son of Galehot le Brun. For pages and pages, they "regarde" each other.[36] After an absolutely bloodless battle, a transparent device to establish the honor of each knight, they adjourn for the evening.[37] The lord of the castle waives the custom for the night, although technically Gyron is his prisoner. In bed, later, with candles burning, Gyron asks how the custom was established.[38] He is told the story is long, that it will keep him up past midnight, and that he needs his rest. Nonetheless, the narrative proceeds at length. The upshot is that the custom was established because Galehot le Brun ardently loved the wife of Dyodenas. The jealous husband imprisons him, and the lady, who had been unyielding, begins


to soften toward him, because he suffers. She liberates Galehot. She is imprisoned by her husband and guarded by twenty knights. (As Rajna points out, the story of jealousy resembles the tale of Clodione.)[39] A duel is arranged, to which Galehot must bring a damsel more beautiful than the wife of Dyodenas. He does, and he defeats the twenty knights and kills Dyodenas. Then, to guard his own woman better, Galehot establishes the custom that no stranger can see her at all unless he defeats twenty knights and the keeper of the tower. The source of the custom, then, is to prevent the mayhem that follows the arrival of a stranger who wants one's wife.[40] Boiardo's version of this story occurs at Castle Cruel, when Marchino burns for Stella, the wife of Grifone of Altaripa.

At the Tower of Tristan and in Ariosto's sources, the story of origins is told to explain the existence of a strange custom. As Dante says in his Convivio , "moral counselings are wont to create a desire to investigate their origins."[41] Moreover, usage and tradition have the advantage of certainty.[42] Dante's thought suggests that Ariosto tells the story of Clodione for reasons beyond showing the effects of jealousy. Codification of custom and the legal custodianship of the state arise because the keeper of a castle's customs, as well as other caste inhabitants whose vanity custom serves, seeks stability. The wandering knight errant— Tristan or Gyron in the earlier stories, Bradamante in the Furioso —confronts injustice that has taken the shape of a social institution, a place, a set of rules, a group committed to the game. But stability is not itself an ethical value. It can promote justice or injustice alike. A system of justice, or any set of social codes that seek to govern present behavior by invoking the authority of the past, can oppress an individual, as well as free him or her from fear.


Bradamante is only a parody of weakness, yet her initial acquiescence to the custom of the castle casts her into an inferior role. She feels the legacy of the past that weighs on the present. She bears the burden of


social order, absorbing Ullania's threat and recasting it in terms of an individual who confronts the strange custom of the Tower of Tristan. As a result, the Tower of Tristan is more than the product of a jealous husband for one whom Gardner called the king of court poets. In Latin institutum means practice, custom, usage, habit. In the Renaissance the word was common in the titles of educational treatises. Bradamante's struggle against custom, in the symbolic context of Tristan's tower, becomes one of individual power against institutions great and small—the court, bureaucracy, but also the church, the state, and even the foreign power of France.

Having defended Ullania, Bradamante views a series of political paintings that picture the foreign invasions of Italy, which climaxed in the 1527 sack of Rome. These panels elevate a sympathetic or ironic moment in the battle of the sexes into a more general image of the way past injustice threatens to replay itself in the future. "The ingenious ways in which the weak make use of the strong," writes Michel de Certeau, "lend a political dimension to everyday practices."[43] For the castle's founder Clodione is also the ancestor of those French invaders who threaten Italy in the illuminated panels that decorate the Tower of Tristan. His father Fieramont is said to be the first French king to conceive of invading Italy (OF 33.8).

As the keeper of the Tower of Tristan guides Bradamante and her companions through future history, Ariosto makes his point perhaps too boldly: there will be no permanent French conquest of Italy, he says, because France has no roots in Italian soil ("che non lice / che 'l Giglio in quel terreno abbia radice," OF 33.10). Only those outsiders like Pipin and Charlemagne who come to assist Italy, not to invade her, will find joy ("lieto successo") because they come not to offend ("che venuto non v'è perché l'offenda," OF 33.16). The same ambiguity that adheres to one who was disgraced by his jealous passion—while following a code of honor in combat—attaches to the French nation. The panels cast the French as the potential saviors of Italy, yet their invasions bring ruin.


The panels are at once sanguine and shrill because Ariosto was writing in the twilight of Italian liberty when he added the Tower of Tristan episode to the Furioso . From our historical distance—and we did not witness the effect in 1512 of Alfonso d'Este's cannon at Ravenna (OF 14.2)—the 1527 sack of Rome is the most important international event of the period between the second and third editions of Ariosto's poem. Ariosto added a condemnation of Rome's disaster to his final edition (OF 33.55), but from another perspective, the passage is merely one more panel in a castle known for its odd French custom, another lament for the harpies of war (OF 34.1), another scene of looting. The view from Ferrara was ambiguous. There, general principles did not deter local opportunism. Duke Alfonso assisted the foreign armies descending on Rome by constructing a pontoon bridge of boats.[44] Ferrante Gonzaga led the Italian troops. His mother, Isabella d'Este, who had once followed the progress of the Furioso with a passion, was in Rome at the time, staying in the Palazzo Colonna. She was shipping loot during the worst excesses of the occupation.[45]

Rome was culturally vulnerable long before Count Charles de Bourbon made his ruinous entry during June of 1527, leading Lutheran mercenaries sharked together by Charles V and accompanied by Spanish tercieros and contingents of disaffected Italians. The disorder of the church, the violence of local squabbles, the verbal abuse within her walls made Rome a place to avoid for men of such different temperament as Luther, who stayed briefly in 1508, and Erasmus, who lambasted the pomp and vitriol of Roman customs in his Ciceronianus (1528, recalling his sojourn of 1506). During the sack of Rome, the ministers of Charles V interpreted the city's misfortune as divine punishment for her corruption. The task of rebutting them fell to the beleaguered Clement VII's papal nuncio to Spain, Baldassare Castiglione. As he stood before the emperor at Valladolid, Castiglione had already invented his lost Italy, the land of learning and civility that would be the pattern of aristocratic chivalry for the world's imagination, a shield against the ruins of time.


He argued that no matter how unworthy her society, Rome's institutions, symbols, and tradition were too sacred to be abused.[46] But the profiler of the elegant and eloquent courtier failed in his purpose. He could not dissuade Charles V from permitting the march on Rome.

Francesco Guicciardini's History of Italy provides another compelling gloss on the way Italy's political vulnerability forced Italians during Ariosto's last years to recognize the mutability of social mores. For Guicciardini, the disaster of Rome left everything open to question. His re-visionary history asserts that when, a generation earlier, Charles VIII descended to claim the kingdom of Naples, he taught Italy a lesson that Guicciardini's prose spells out: foreign invasions produce permanent disorder because they introduce new fashions and customs.

Charles entered Asti on the ninth day of September of the year 1494, bringing with him into Italy the seeds of innumerable calamities, of most horrible events and changes in almost the entire state of affairs. For his passage into Italy not only gave rise to changes of dominions, subversion of kingdoms, desolation of countries, destruction of cities and the cruelest of massacres, but also new fashions, new customs, new and bloody ways of waging warfare, and diseases which had been unknown up to that time . Furthermore, his incursion introduced so much disorder into Italian ways of governing and maintaining harmony, that we have never been able to re-establish order , thus opening the possibility to other foreign nations and barbarous armies to trample upon our institutions and miserably oppress us.[47]

The narrator of Guicciardini's History no longer accepts his society as a given, but recognizes that it is composed of institutions and customs. Rocked by history, he looks at his own land and he sees the Other. Whatever is, is wrong. Things were different in the golden age, the era before 1494. The History makes those years seem impossibly distant.

The poet, like the historian, struggled against modernity. But Ariosto's relationship to the glorified past was different from Guicciardini's—and not only because he wrote chivalric fiction. He perceived


the past as he did any source of constraint. When Bradamante confronts a wicked custom, she is, like the world-weary Ariosto, hardly surprised that such behavior should exist. The complicated custom Bradamante must manipulate fits the image of political intrigue, and the historical context of Ariosto's late additions suggests that what upended the tradition of chivalry—the culture's term for all good custom—was a crisis in the management of the state brought about by the daily threat to the geopolitical integrity of Italy. The culture was under pressure as well. Renee of France, the woman who had married the duke's heir Ercole and would become duchess of Ferrara a year after Ariosto's death, refused to learn Italian or give up her French ways. Her Protestant sympathies would soon be manifest. Before he died, Alfonso d'Este had already noted her inability to adapt to the customs of the country.[48]


Current criticism of the Furioso is divided as to whether Ariosto's poem is a monument to stability and transcendence or an attempt to evade the nightmare of history.[49] Is Bradamante the product of social custom, or does she become a producer of it? One might as well ask whether Ariosto lived on the margins of society or within it. He did both. Currently the Furioso is regarded as a poem of crisis in faith, politics, and culture. It is also seen as an evasion of crisis. Albert Ascoli questions studies that "tend to assign priority to one source or another in a given textual circumstance" without considering the poem's proleptic reading of the "possible responses it will call forth."[50] He adds a crisis of referentiality to the question of what is historical and subjective, remarking that Ariosto also defeats such a clear division. The bitter harmony he hears is that of a poem which both confronts and evades crises in faith, politics, and culture, of a poet who is neither distraught nor complacent. Walter Binni, dissatisfied with what he characterizes as a series of oxymoronic reactions by critics to Croce's conception of an Ariosto of cosmic harmony (e.g., "la tempestosa armonia" or "le dissonanze del-


l'armonia"), finds Ariosto not a solitary dreamer, but a man who needed social contact.[51] The critical consensus has long been to identify the ironic or satiric pole of Ariosto's fiction with the author himself.[52] Yet Wiggins argues convincingly that Ariosto's ironic voice emerges from one who studied to design an ideal picture of himself while at the same time finding an urbane way to express social discontents, "the pathos of his alienation."[53]

There is enough negative capability in Ariosto's art that I would not want to add Bradamante to the list of characters like Atlante and Astolfo who have been proposed as figures for the poet.[54] The image of an inveterate tinkerer left to us by his son reconciles, for me, the tension between the individual and the social actor. Ariosto was a man who "would not leave anything he planted for more than three months in one place," writes his son Virginio, "and if he sowed peaches or any kind of seed, he went so often to see if they were sprouting, that at last he broke the shoots."[55] In his last year Ariosto received a pension from Alfonso d'Avalos, and did not fail to reward his patron with an extended encomium in the Tower of Tristan panels (OF 32.27 and 48)—creating, in his final flourish, one of the least interesting sections of his poem, unless we can see such flattery as one of "the multiplicity of force relations" that Michel Foucault defined as power: "the process which, through ceaseless struggles and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or reverses" relations such as those that define the Renaissance courtier, poet, and family man.[56]

At the end of his life, in the final edition of his poem, Ariosto drew upon the old romance convention of the custom of the castle to dramatize the response of an individual to an institution that lacks integrity. The Tower of Tristan represents, in terms suitable to a Renaissance epic, what Robert Rodini has identified in the theatrical comedies Ariosto wrote during the socially unsettled era from 1490 to 1530 as a questioning of "humanistic certainties and . . . institutional norms."[57] Bradamante's magnificent counterpressure creates a picture of one who is both a producer and a product of the social order. For Ariosto's image


of discord is not a haunted forest or male rivalry for a cold queen or even Bradamante's jealous belief (based on the twisted report of a Gascon knight) that Ruggiero intends to marry Marfisa, but Bradamante's struggle within a social convention. As the Furioso concludes, it seems that Bradamante ultimately submits to Ruggiero's greater prowess, and to marriage. But most readers would agree that she stoops to conquer, outmaneuvering the circumscriptions of space and propriety and custom. The theme of the Tower of Tristan is the practice of submission— the uses to be made not just of an asymmetry of the sexes but of an individual's tactical deference to social convention.


A half century after Ariosto wrote, Edmund Spenser confirmed the manipulations inherent in Bradamante's behavior. Spenser isolated the situation of one who confronts a questionable custom but does not make an issue of its morality. Spenser's reading of the Furioso further confirms that Ariosto's fictional progenitor of the Este family offers a crucial insight into that crisis of individualism that since Burckhardt has shaped our notion of the Italian Renaissance.

As Book IV of The Faerie Queene opens, Britomart (a country cousin, C. S. Lewis said, of Ariosto's Bradamante)[58] has not yet disclosed her identity to Amoret, whom she has rescued from Busirane's tortures: Amoret fears she owes her body to her deliverer. The pair ride until they reach "a Castell," where "the custome of that place was such" that anyone who has not "love nor lemman there in store, / Should either winne him one, or lye without the dore" (FQ 4.1.9).[59]

Britomart easily solves this castle custom, which seems designed to admit only heterosexual couples. Armed with her ebony spear (Spenser's version of Bradamante's golden lance), she gains acceptance for herself and Amoret by defeating a "jolly knight" who seeks Amoret as his entrance partner. Then Britomart upsets the apple cart. She has already overcome social custom by concealing her sex; now she overcomes it


again by revealing herself. After asking the seneschal of the castle to ratify her victory as a man, she gains entrance for the nameless jolly knight by claiming that because she is a woman, she may be allowed entry with a man.

In contrast to more conventional caste scenes, Britomart both accepts and devalues custom by her own terms and solution. She practices (in the sense of undermining ) by participating. Despite, even because of, the custom's claims on her, she operates freely. And her confidence goes beyond her ebony spear. She decides to do things the hard way—to have the "jolly knight" admitted too—thereby imposing a new possibility of failure before the custom's challenge. Instead of destroying the caste or its custom, she overgoes the rules. Her wit, as conveyed by her words, allows her to set the fashion for the castle, if not alter the custom.

Her mechanism for this feat demonstrates how the weak overmaster dominant social forces. Rather than obtaining a strategic victory, as Tristan does at the Weeping Caste, Britomart obtains victory by what Michel de Certeau calls tactical means. In de Certeau's terms, "a tactic depends on time—it is always on the watch for opportunities that must be seized 'on the wing.'"[60] That is, Britomart imposes a solution dependent not on force alone. Although Britomart owes her victory in the joust to the irresistible enchantment of her ebony spear, her triumph over the castellan is a temporal trick. Having declared herself a woman, she could not again fight for Amoret. The ruse is not reversible.




Chapter Five
Spenser's Customs of Courtesy

The decrees of society are temporary ones.

In the first half of his Faerie Queene , published in 1590, Edmund Spenser generally looks to the distant past for those values that would fashion a gentleman to the ideals of chivalry. By the time he published the second installment of his poem in 1596, Spenser seems to have struggled more openly with the relationship between social practice and values: Should one tolerate customs of which one disapproves? What can be done when others condemn what one believes is right?

The allegory of Book VI, the legend of courtesy, foregrounds these questions. The hero of this section of Spenser's romantic epic is Sir Calidor, charged by the Faerie Queene to track down the Blattant (or Blatant) Beast, a houndlike creature that Spenser named after the beste glattisant that the pagan knight Sir Palomides tracks as hopelessly as he pursues the love of Isode in Malory's Morte Darthur : Calidor's quest is also incomplete, for he finds the baying animal but cannot muzzle it permanently.


The critical consensus that the Blattant Beast represents the inevitability of slander or detraction has not been matched by agreement over the way the rest of Book VI manifests the operation of courtesy. Hamilton's introduction finds no adequate social context for the story, declaring that "allegorical interpretation [is] entirely inadequate, irrelevant and disposable. Of all the books, Book VI seems closest to romance with its aura of manifold, mysterious meanings conveyed in a 'poetic' context and not at all in any abstract moral, philosophical, or historical argument."[2] Most critics find the central theme of the legend in Calidor's vision of the Graces during the pastoral interlude in cantos 9 through 11.

What Hamilton and others attribute to the magic of romance, however, can be shown to be a deliberate vagueness that solves a problem that an enthusiastic reformer like Spenser could not avoid: how to establish good conduct, when too radical a theory of change will leave one's own system exposed to a similar revolution. Only by defining "custom" in general and universal terms as "courtesy" can Spenser open up the possibility for change and claim the prerogative to effect it. Faced with the problem that no simple rule or persuasive argument suffices to establish the priority of one of two competing moral systems, Spenser constructs a narrative solution in The Faerie Queene by drawing on the conventions of chivalric romance, which he read in ethical terms. Three times in the first half of Book VI, once at Crudor's Caste and twice at Sir Turpine's Caste of the Ford, Spenser uses the custom of the caste topos, a narrative structure in which clashing standards of behavior open a gap between moral knowledge and moral action. Spenser could have found the topos in many chivalric romances, but he certainly knew it from Malory's Morte Darthur and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso . In earlier books Spenser adopted the convention for the unchaste usage of Malecasta (FQ 3.1), the suffocating social arrangements of the Caste of Couples (FQ 4.1), and the injustice of Pollente's bridge (FQ 5.2).[3] Unlike Britomart and Artegall, the heroes of Book VI find greater difficulty in countering charges of their own ill conduct, as first Sir Calidor, then Sir


Calepine, and finally Prince Arthur face customs that someone else regards as proper.[4] Their tribulation—the difference between what they think is right and what action they can effect—foreshadows Calidor's ultimate failure to eliminate detraction.

The narrative convention of the custom of the castle, as a model of moral uncertainty, allows the Book of Courtesy to make its point that courtesy is characterized by imprecision and vagueness. This lack of formal definition characterizes other virtues, but it seems more paradoxical in Book VI, since we usually associate courtesy with show and explicit forms of behavior. Red Crosse takes precise steps and learns fairly exact lessons (the seven acts of mercy) in the House of Holiness. But Spenser's letter to Walter Raleigh emphasizes what Spenser calls "the show" rather than "precepts . . . sermoned at large."[5] Sir Calidor therefore properly enters a world of romance, pastoral woodlands and pirates, whose surface hides practical reasoning. For if good customs are merely equivalent to manners and fashion, then their social construction and relativity become embarrassingly obvious in the encounter with the Other. But if courtesy resides in the mind as some sort of universal ideal, then it can assume various outward forms.

The need for a general understanding of courtesy coincided with Spenser's early experience in Ireland. The flexible planning necessary to implement English social control over Ireland encouraged the optimistic attitude toward social change that Book VI explores. The other lesson of Book VI, that denigration accompanies accomplishment, warns that if a courteous knight wants to be a reformer, his reputation will fare better in Fairyland than in Ireland.


We first see Sir Calidor, a knight known for his "faire usage" (his moral habits, FQ 6.1.3), congratulating Sir Artegall, from whom he learns that Artegall's attempts to embody Justice in Book V have aroused Envy and Detraction and attracted the Blattant Beast. Artegall's perhaps mis-


placed certainty of his own virtue ("I that knew my selfe from perill free," FQ 6.1.9) contrasts to Calidor's perhaps overly pessimistic foreknowledge that his quest is endless and without instruction ("an endlesse trace, withouten guyde," FQ 6.1.6). Their encounter suggests that a clash of values may be resolved not by proving the invalidity of another culture (Artegall's task) but by striving to put one's own house in order. But few rules suffice for all occasions in the Book of Courtesy.

Sir Calidor attempts to apply the self-reliance Artegall preaches during his first adventure, when he confronts the foul customs of Briana and Crudor. The knight travels until by chance he finds a squire tied to a tree, who tells him about the local practice of exacting a toll (a form of custom) from passing knights and ladies:

Not farre from hence, uppon yond rocky hill,
Hard by a streight there stands a castle strong,
Which doth observe  a custome lewd and ill ,
And it hath long mayntaind with mighty wrong:
For may no Knight nor Lady passe along
That way, (and yet they needs must passe that way,)
By reason of the streight, and rocks among,
But they that Ladies lockes doe shave away,
And that knights berd for toll, which they for passage pay.
        (FQ  6.1.13; my emphasis)

Calidor also learns that the source of the custom is Sir Crudor, who demands that Briana make a mantle "with beards of Knights and locks of Ladies lynd" (FQ 6.1.15) to win his love. Calidor unbinds the squire and then rescues the squire's maiden by killing Maleffort, who works for Briana.[6] Calidor next invades Briana's castle and slays the porter. He is putting the castle to the sword, sweeping away the inhabitants like flies ("bryzes," FQ 6.1.25), when Briana accuses the knight of courtesy of murdering her men—and of threatening to rob her house and ravish her. Hamilton hears an invitation in her declaration of helplessness,[7] but surely the point of the scene is to force Calidor verbally to defend his at-


tack on the custom of the castle. The rules of civility vary in different times and places. Spenser's scene therefore gives prominence not just to the difficulty but to the uneasiness that accompanies the establishment of civility. Briana's charge that the knight of courtesy has vilely murdered her men dramatizes the perception that one has a difficult responsibility when imposing upon the customs of others.

False traytor Knight, (sayd she) no Knight at all,
But scorne of armes that hast with guilty hand
Murdred my men, and slaine my Seneschall;
Now comest thou to rob my house unmand,
And spoile my selfe, that can not thee withstand?
Yet doubt thou not, but that some better Knight
Then thou, that shall thy treason understand,
Will it avenge, and pay thee with thy right:
And if none do, yet shame shal thee with shame requight.
        (FQ  6.1.25)

Chagrin takes hold of Calidor, as he listens to Briana: "much was the Knight abashed at that word" (FQ 6.1.26). Puttenham's term for this significant pause is "aporia," whose effect is to raise doubt, as "when by a plaine manner of speech wee might affirme or deny him."[8] The nervous anxiety raised by the question of customary behavior gives a false edge to Calidor's response to Briana. First Calidor denies responsibility for what he has done. "Not unto me the shame, / But to the shameful doer it afford" (FQ 6.1.26). Calidor's speech implies that good customs, which characterize civility, preexist the evil efforts of Briana and her people to negate them.

Bloud is no blemish; for it is no blame
To punish those, that doe deserve the same;
But they that breake bands of civilitie,
And wicked customs make, those doe defame
Both noble armes and gentle curtesie.
No greater shame to man then inhumanitie.
        (FQ  6.1.26)


Briana, however, remains deaf to the "courteous lore" of Calidor, forcing him to fight Crudor.

The battle between Calidor and Crudor figures the particular strain felt by someone who alters the custom of others.[9] Their lives are compared to castles, impenetrable, as each seeks entrance to the other. With no direction—no fixed rules of deportment—Calidor and Crudor "tryde all waies" (FQ 6.1.37). Their battle mirrors Calidor's perennial pursuit of the Blattant Beast, "an endlesse trace, withouten guyde" (FQ 6.1.6). The phrase tells us that no written manual of instruction exists. The duel of Crudor and Calidor therefore figures the wandering ways, the labyrinth of fairyland.

Calidor's strain and chagrin undercut his reformation of Crudor. The battle technically ends when Calidor reduces Crudor's pride and cruelty, imposing humility on the fallen foe whose life he spares. Calidor then lectures Crudor on the Golden Rule and demands that he marry Briana without a dowry. Glad to be alive, Crudor agrees to his terms. At once something snaps in Briana (her sudden "affect").[10] She quiets down and gives her castle to Calidor, who redistributes the property to the squire and lady to recompense their lost beard and hair.

The moral would seem to be that a rude population will offer up their property in grateful exchange for lessons in civility—a fit fantasy for an English colonist in Ireland—were not Crudor's reformation curiously incomplete. How can Calidor's lesson in chivalry ("Who will not mercie unto others shew, / How can he mercy ever hope to have?" FQ 6.1.42) guarantee a new mode of conduct? Pressured by the threat of death, forced to swear allegiance on his conqueror's sword and the holy cross, Crudor bends to superior power rather than to reason. Does his mind remain stubborn?

Spenser never lets us trust what we see as each quest of The Faerie Queene opens. Here, he casts doubt on the extent to which Crudor takes to heart the new custom of courtesy, for if Crudor arises as bidden, he does so "how ever liefe or loth" (FQ 6.1.44). This episode is self-contained in the canto and never referred to again. Yet there are enough


clues to the problems of reformation that we may suspect we are not violating the poem's artistic premises by wondering whether the new custom has indeed become customary, or whether Crudor's behavior may revert in an instant. Faced with a similar scoundrel, Boiardo's Brandimarte says, "A frog will never leave the mud!" (OI 2.19.43). Spenser's attitude is not devoid of such aristocratic disdain for the lower classes, but in contrast to Boiardo's rule of force in the face of hopeless intransigence and his appeal to a limited audience, Spenser's epic promises to fashion a gentleman without distinguishing whether he means to fashion one from scratch or merely to polish a gentleman born.

A spectacle, rather than specificity, solves the problem for one who, like Spenser, stands in the present and wonders what is the right thing to do today and how to ensure that pattern of behavior for the future. Cicero regarded eloquence as the source of civility, and we usually regard Spenser as promoting this humanist view. But the first custom of the castle scene in the legend of courtesy suggests that eloquence is a necessary but limited means of shaping social behavior. Calidor makes Crudor agree not to mistreat strangers. He tells him to help ladies, without explaining how. Crudor must marry Briana without demanding a dowry, but he receives no instructions on daily behavior. Such negative injunctions merely check the inclinations, including such selfishness as Crudor and Briana show.[11] The purpose of the scene in the legend of courtesy is therefore not to promote Calidor or condemn Crudor and Briana, let alone to propose a blueprint for land appropriation or marriage settlements, but to explore social customs as a scene of contested values.


Spenser adopted the archaic mode of chivalric romance both for its essentially arbitrary form and to allow him to claim the authority of the past for those virtues he was keen to convey as guides for the future. But other people's customs represent formidable obstacles, because they too


can claim the authority of the past. How can a reformer justify change without generating an uncontrollable force that can destroy the reformation process? To illustrate this issue, the custom of the castle motif operates as a dialectical structure in which social issues may take narrative form without our resorting to the ethical habit "of ranging everything in the antagonistic categories of good and evil" with the result that "what is bad belongs to the Other."[12] The custom of the castle raises, as Jameson phrases it, "in symbolic form, issues of social change and counterrevolution."[13]

There is, therefore, no bright line test for courtesy in The Faerie Oueene . The Blattant Beast represents neither good nor evil but the way of the world: not just slander, but inevitable slander, from which no pastoral retreat provides protection (FQ 6.10.2). His bite seems arbitrary, like fashions or the complex set of duties determined by the rank of those one faces. Following the reformation of Crudor's castle, Spenser's narrative voice suggests that such courtesies are so bewildering that nature eases things for some people by making them naturally civil.[14] Calidor, for example, has nature's gift, but Sir Calepine, Calidor's lesser image, is less fortunate in this respect, as the narrative proceeds to demonstrate.

The rude forest figures the uncertainty of moral guidelines by offering Calepine and his lover Serena opportunities for behavior that others—courtiers in a castle, for example—might regard as uncivil. Calepine and Serena are sporting in the forest when Calidor happens upon them, replaying a previous adventure in which a discourteous knight (slain by Tristram) stumbled on Aladine and Priscilla making love outdoors. Unlike the earlier knight, Calidor is too well heeled to stoop to jealous envy of their game; instead, he engages Calepine in conversation until they hear the screams of Serena, whom the Blattant Beast snatches in his jaws as she wanders away to make a garland for her head (FQ 6.3.23). The beast soon releases her, but Calidor continues chasing it, and we do not see him again until he begins his pastoral interlude in canto 9. Meanwhile, Calepine finds Serena wounded and travels with


her till nightfall, when a "fair and stately place" beyond a river comes into view as they seek shelter (FQ 6.3.29).

The place is Turpine's castle, and its custom is discourtesy. Turpine refuses to help Calepine carry Serena across the ford. Calepine crosses anyway, then calls on Turpine to fight and justify his failure to lend assistance to those in need. When Turpine ignores him, Calepine calls him a coward, as Arthur will later. Turpine represents more than cowardice, however. He stands for the inevitability of social detraction when two competing sets of values confront each other.

Normally the foul custom of a castle is that one must fight for lodging rather than receive unquestioned hospitality. Turpine's custom adds a twist by setting this battle not in the present or future but in the past. The porter shuts the gates in Calepine's face and tells him

                        that there was no place
Of lodging fit for any errant Knight,
Unlesse that with his Lord he  formerly  did fight.
        (FQ  6.3.38; my emphasis)

The custom doubly bars Calepine from entering since not only does Turpine fail to appear at his castle, but he has already refused to battle him at the ford. Turpine's barrier to entry is the kind of catch-22 or double bind that Spenser characteristically gives to villains who keep castles in Book III, the legend of chastity: the custom of Malecasta's Castle Joyous precludes any escape (FQ 3.1);[15] Paridell will seduce Hellenore whether Malbecco watches jealously or not (FQ 3.9); and Amoret suffers whether she yields to or resists Busirane's black magic (FQ 3.12). Spenser does not label these practices as customs, but where a central personality organizes events, the pattern of behavior established by the moral habits of the individual symbolize those of an institution, as in the Roman de la Rose , the allegorical ancestor and source for medieval conventions of love.

Like the complex game of love that hinders access to the Rose in Jean de Meun's poem, the logic of Turpine's custom bewilders a naive Cale-


pine. Turpine fails to abide not just by the rules of hospitality, but even by the normal foul custom of a castle, where a host insists on fighting his guests before giving them harbor. Calepine misses the point that he is therefore ineligible to enter. Sounding like Malory's Sir Dinadan (MD 9.23), he tells the porter, who "no manners had," that he is weary, his lady is wounded, and he is in no mood to fight his host (FQ 6.3.38-39). He does not know that the man who refused to help him cross the ford also owns this castle. When he asks the porter for the name of the "Lord / That doth thus strongly ward the Castle of the ford" (FQ 6.3.39), it seems that he has not conceived who and what he is up against. The custom of Turpine's castle finally forces Calepine and Serena to sleep outdoors, under a bush (FQ 6.3.44)—appropriately for them, for they earlier made love outdoors "in covert shade" (FQ 6.3.20).

Calepine's obtuseness reflects his incomprehension of the basis on which others disapprove of his conduct. The custom of Turpine's castle, which Calepine cannot overcome, therefore represents the larger social power that underlies the force of detraction. By keeping Calepine out, the society he faces robs him of his dignity. The custom of the castle distorts Calepine's reputation. Even Turpine's name infects the final syllable of "Calepine," which otherwise echoes Calidor as well as the generic Renaissance word for a dictionary: both Calepine and a word book are open to the inspection of others not familiar with their culture or language. They list rules for those not to the "manner" born. Moreover, Turpine causes not just mischief to Serena but inconvenience. English law distinguished an inconvenience from a mischief. An "inconvenience" results when the public is affected (publicurn malum ), while a "mischief" (privatum damnum ) concerns private individuals.[16] Serena inconveniences Turpine, in this public sense, so he refuses to admit her. Turpine's response is that of society—of those who believe the slander of the Blattant Beast, whose bite has wounded her.

As a "dark conceit" of detraction, Turpine continues his attacks after Calepine and Serena proceed on their way.[17] Just as Calepine did not equate the knight at the ford with the keeper of the castle, so he does not


realize that the knight who attacks him the next day is that lord of the castle whom he never saw the night before. The image of Calepine hiding behind "his Ladies backe" as Turpine attacks shows not a coward but someone who pays a social penalty for his actions.[18] Calepine lacks awareness, as happens when one does not suspect the ill will of others. Turpine and his castle hold a distorting mirror up to the social reputation of whoever approaches them. They represent the sheer otherness of customs.

Detraction cannot harm one outside the society that circulates a slander. Once away from society, Calepine and Serena are safe. It is therefore fitting that "a salvage man" (FQ 6.4.2) rescues them from Turpine. The savage's invulnerable skin, a romance image of his outsider status, makes him immune to the uncivil society Turpine represents. After chasing Turpine away, the savage invites Calepine and Serena to his forest home. Ensuing events suggest, indirectly, that Serena gives birth and Calepine arranges a foster family for the baby.[19] When Calepine wanders away from her, he suddenly has an infant on his hands, which he gives to Matilda.[20] Serena meanwhile is lodged in rustic solitude. She hurls herself down until her bleeding "did all the flore imbrew" as she lies "long groveling, and deepe groning" (FQ 6.5.5). Spenser's romance uses uncertain, vague imagery and the temporal dislocations of entrelacement to avoid limiting the social allegory of Turpine's castle to a particular attitude about one issue, in this case the one raised by Serena's pregnancy. Serena's condition offers a specific but morally unnecessary reason why she and Calepine are not allowed inside Turpine's castle. The point is that the society of Turpine's castle, whatever one thinks of it, finds them unfit.


Spenser criticism is still reeling from the picture in Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning of a poet participating in the cruder moments of colonization, repressing his sexual instincts in the name of


a false civility, and helping himself to the wealth of a nation whose presence and practices provoked Spenser's deepest fears about his own stability.[21] But the darkening of Spenser's world has the paradoxical effect of keeping his poem alive. For if Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland and parts of Book V, the legend of justice, show us a man willing to starve a population or threaten it with the sword, Spenser's thought in The Faerie Queene depends on the narrative mode of romance.[22]

The custom of the castle topos offered Spenser's romance a way to present social solutions without promoting specific programs. Arbitrary rules characterize the artificial castes where custom demands one's beard or locks or upper garments of travelers. Such rules also characterize the pastoral world that Sir Calidor enters in canto 9, where Calidor attempts to win Pastorella's love by his considerate treatment of his rival Coridon. Calidor gives Coridon a garland that he had himself obtained from Pastorella: "Then Coridon woxe frollicke, that earst seemed dead" (FQ 6.9.42). Despite Coridon's delight, the garland seems like the sign of a loser, for Calidor gives Coridon another one after he throws him in wrestling (FQ 6.9.44). Boccaccio's Filocolo questions what it means for a lady to give someone a garland: is it a mark of favor, or a sign that the receiver is too poor to provide for himself? Boccaccio suggests that the meaning of the action can only be interpreted in terms of the customary behavior of lovers.[23]

Such ambiguous images and courtly love games provided romances with materials to symbolize larger questions of how to conform to social customs: how to talk, eat, get ahead, or survive. Puttenham gives a nice example of how one must tailor one's actions to what others are doing when he discusses the trope of hysteron proteron . What he calls "the preposterous" occurs "when ye misplace your words or clauses and set that before which should be behind, & è converso , we call it in Englishe proverbe, the cart before the horse." Whether the sentence "I kist her cherry lip and took my leave" is a figure of speech depends on whether it is the custom to kiss first and then bid farewell, or to first take your leave and then kiss, thereby "knitting up the farewell," in which case the


order of events is reversed. He wryly advises to "let yong Courtiers decide this controversie."[24]

Spenser relies on romance images of arbitrary and symbolic behavior—bearding knights, denying hospitality, stripping upper garments—because he seeks a nonspecific picture of courtesy, conceived as a struggle to promote civic welfare. "Vertues seat," Spenser says, "is deepe within the mynd, / And not in outward shows, but inward thoughts defynd" (FQ 6.proem.5). A virtue that lies deep within the mind would create a problem for a mimetic poet precisely because the virtue cannot be seen. But nothing Spenser shows us in his nonmimetic mirror of chivalry need be courtesy itself.

When Spenser makes courtesy a mental phenomenon, he parts from Renaissance theorists like Erasmus and Bacon and Montaigne, who almost invariably defined custom as a form of pedagogy, the training of the individual to perform or to endure. Bacon's essay on custom amounts to a program based on the idea that one can get used to anything. His real subject is habit, which has a notable power of persuasion, as when Hamlet tells his mother she can overcome the "monster custom" to develop a taste for abstinence in her relations with his uncle (Hamlet 3.4.161). The first half of Montaigne's essay "Of Custom" is similar to Bacon's essay. It is about how habits developed since childhood create one's character. In the second half, Montaigne switches to public usages, which a strong educational system helps one adopt as personal habits.

In terms of fashioning a gentleman, Spenser's retreat to generality answers a paradox that Jacques Derrida identified in Rousseau's Emile: "Pedagogy cannot help but encounter the problem of imitation. What is example? Should the teacher make an example of himself and not interfere any further, or pile lesson upon exhortation? And is there virtue in being virtuous by imitation?"[25] A measure of humility for the teacher is also involved, since as Descartes observed, "those who take the responsibility of giving precepts must think themselves more knowledgeable than those to whom they give them, and, if they make the slightest


mistake, they are blameworthy." Descartes suggests a practical solution: a historical account or a fable may be allowed to contain examples one may follow as well as "others which it would be right not to copy."[26] Philip Sidney's Defense of Poetry recommends fables over history for one who seeks to create role models. Spenser avoids the problem of constructing role models by adopting the form of nonimitative romance.

Vagueness, or generality, fittingly attends to the three goddesses who dance on Mt. Alcidale, near the end of the legend of courtesy. They are said to be the source of all civility, but they are not models for imitation. Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia offer no specific instruction in the general fields of "comely carriage, entertainement kynde, / Sweete semblaunt, friendly offices that bynde, / And all the complements of curtesie" (FQ 6.10.23). Another hundred graces circle them to the tune played by Colin Clout, who represents Spenser in his role of inspired poet. They are said to be the "complements" (specific ceremonies) of courtesy, but Spenser does not name their qualities. The omission seems deliberate in a poem capable of listing every river in England and Ireland (FQ 4.11.20-47). The name of the goddess whom Colin calls the mother of the graces reinforces Spenser's representation of a wide picture of courtesy rather than a list of rules: She is Eurynome (FQ 6.10.22), and her name combines a suffix for laws, custom, or organization (-nomy , perhaps from nomos ) with a modifier (eury ) meaning broad.[27] Her presence on Mt. Alcidale indicates that courtesy requires a wider ability than that of mastering rubrics in a handbook. Aladine and Calepine and Tristram, knights whose names come from books, never reach the standard of behavior of Calidor, whose generic name says that good conduct is a gift.

Spenser's fascination with transcending customs sets his romance beyond the clash of English and Irish cultures or the skeptical acceptance of a Montaigne or More or any of the Renaissance thinkers (Bacon is often cited) who realized that customs were a suitable instrument of social control. The mode of the poem mirrors the poet's mode of life. Spenser always operated with an eye to the future, conceiving plans for his ca-


reer, organizing the vast project of The Faerie Queene , and eagerly participating in property speculation in Ireland. This latter activity gives us a clue to his imaginative association of courtesy and the spacious ways of romance as a literary form.

The Munster settlement in which Spenser participated in the late 1580s, as he finished the first three books of The Faerie Queene , raised the issue of any large entrepreneurial enterprise, how to plan when tomorrow brings change. The English resettlements gave this issue unprecedented scope. Elizabeth's privy council under Lord Burghley promoted settlement not under color of military conquest, though soldiers and their attendant violence were common, but through the subtler procedures of property development and social engineering. The result was a keen awareness of the difficulty of planning, of allowing for delays, disappointments, and competition. This activity gave Spenser a felt need for modes of conduct that would be both widely applicable and flexible.

The experience of the undertakers reinforced an axiom of anticipation that applies today. Where the future is uncertain, an employer, or undertaker, will find his or her interests best served not by constructing laws for his employees but by guidelines full of vague references to fairness and best efforts, to following standards according to the customs of others in similar enterprises, to duty and loyalty—in short, to equity and values. Equity is a judgment that depends on a total context, not strict rules. It offers open-ended flexibility. The drawback is that it courts uncertainty, especially in costs. Trying to account for activity in Ireland, the government regularly inquired into the exact numbers of English settlers transported to Ireland. Significantly, Sir Walter Raleigh was probably the most successful at settling large numbers of English tenants. But Raleigh's "short, rather vague, and detached" responses to the crown's 1592 inquiry were too imprecise to satisfy Burghley. According to MacCarthy-Morrogh, "Back came a letter demanding amplification upon a number of points including the English population: 'whose those be, or to what number, is not expressed, as the articles of


the instructions did require.'"[28] In fact, Raleigh raised working capital by offering land to Londoners whose goal was to profit by resale, not settlement.[29]

The undertakers resorted to vagueness precisely because they bore the onus of day-to-day management and accountability, which belied the numbers Burghley might conjure up, sitting before his maps in his London chamber.[30] Spenser must have felt the weakness of the settlement scheme as he wrote or revised Book VI during the 1590s. There should have been 1,575 armed settlers according to Burghley's covenants; in fact, there were hardly that many Englishmen in Munster, of whom perhaps three hundred were ready to fight, and there was lack of provision for enclosures or defensive buildings.[31] In 1598, for reasons still obscure, the authorities suppressed publication of Spenser's analysis of what was wrong with the laws, customs, and religion of Ireland.[32] The settlement plans failed completely that year, when the local Irish rebelled, and Spenser's castle at Kilcolman was burned. Spenser had become sheriff of Cork, but died in 1599 after sailing to London, paradoxically, to petition for help in controlling a society whose ways he knew as well as any man alive.

As romance versions of the Irish Other, Crudor and Turpine, Briana and Blandina base judgments on their own provincial terms, twisting the good intentions of Calidor, Calepine, and Prince Arthur. Turpine's detraction, in particular, stands for a "can't do" attitude, which must have been anathema to the poet who wrote the most mellifluous rhymed epic in English. Such an attitude never dies, but must be ignored by the successful undertaker, just as Turpine is not eliminated, only baffled, probably temporarily, like the Blattant Beast. That the conflict between another's views and one's own may seem preposterous (the key notion of Puttenham's definitions of asteismus and hysteron proteton ) finds expression in the outcries of Briana and Blandina, in Serena's belated labor (after Calepine gives away a baby), and in Arthur's inability to punish Turpine because of slander that has always already occurred.[33] The successful person, planning for tomorrow, learns to tolerate carping. The


ultimate failure of Spenser's own career may disprove his message in particular but does not lessen the general power of courtesy conveyed by his chivalric romance.


Prince Arthur offers an ambiguous solution to the problem of the uncivil social other when he confronts Turpine in the middle of the legend of courtesy. The ambiguity arises because, if Turpine represents society's judgment of others, Arthur is not only judged but discriminates too. The narrative raises the question of Arthur's opinion in a subtle way, by sending him to Turpine's castle not by chance but to "avenge th'abuses" that Serena complains of (FQ 6.5.34). Elsewhere in Arthurian romance, knights errant do not usually witness foul customs in operation before personally confronting them. In Spenser's poem, however, Calidor finds a squire tied to a tree and sees Maleffort tearing the hair from a maiden's head before he takes action. Serena suffers from Turpine's discourteous custom and then tells her story to Prince Arthur. The pattern continues when the narrator of The Faerie Oueene mentions that Calidor once met Turpine ("that proud Knight, the which whileare /Wrought to Sir Calidore so foule despight," FQ 6.6.17). Since we only see Calepine and Arthur, not Calidor, meet Turpine, this reference may be a misprint or a mistake. If "Calidor" is correct, however, it underscores the structural principle of the scene of Turpine's confrontation with Prince Arthur, who, it turns out, has heard yet another story about Turpine before he reaches his castle.

For Arthur accuses Turpine of despoiling knights and ladies of their arms or upper garments (FQ 6.6.34), although this practice is mentioned nowhere else in the poem. Turpine's counterpart in the Morte Darthur on this matter is Sir Turquin, or Tarquin, who beats his prisoners "with thorns all naked" (MD 6.1) as he goes about capturing King Arthur's knights during his search for Lancelot. Prince Arthur has such an act of public shaming in mind when he accuses Turpine of stripping


his victims (also the practice of Ariosto's Marganorre, who short skirts ladies, and Malory's King Ryence, who collects beards and serves as a model for Sir Crudor). The public aspect that connects Turpine to Malory's Turquin is slightly roundabout, because we must consider the entire context of Turquin's story, but clear enough if we remember that the Turquin episode represents Lancelot's first appearance in the Morte Darthut and that Lancelot's reputation instantly becomes an issue. Because Lancelot rejects the sexual favors of four queens (Morgan, the queen of Northgales, the queen of Eastland, and the queen of the Out Isles, 6.3), public speculation becomes so intense that "it is noised" (MD 6.10) that Lancelot loves Queen Guenevere. Lancelot denies the allegation but at the same time recognizes the logic of public infamy—"I may not warn people to speak of me what it pleaseth them" (MD 6.10). Public gossip makes it difficult for characters like Calepine, Serena, or Timias to alter the way of the world that Turpine represents.

Spenser added the motif of public opinion to the traditional topos of the custom of the caste to make Arthur's encounter with Turpine not a confrontation between right and wrong but a conflict between different opinions. That Arthur's own reputation may also be at stake at Turpine's castle helps explain his strange behavior there, for the strategy Arthur employs in attacking Turpine owes something to a trick Lancelot uses to defeat Sir Peris de Forest Savage, someone closely associated with Turquin in Malory's story ("For like as Sir Turquin watched to destroy knights, so did this knight attend to destroy and distress ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen," MD 6.10). In an unusual and seemingly ungallant maneuver, Lancelot sends a damsel before him while he keeps himself "in covert." When Sir Peris knocks the damsel from her horse, Lancelot rebukes him and cuts his throat. In The Faerie Queene , Prince Arthur easily passes through Turpine's gates, then, like Lancelot, he dissimulates. Arthur feigns distress to give Turpine's porter an opportunity to deny him hospitality, the usual foul custom of romance (FQ 6.6.21), just as Lancelot exposes Sir Peris by hiding while Sir Peris makes a damsel his victim.


Arthur's reformation of Turpine is inconclusive, as was Calidor's victory over Sir Crudor's custom early in Book VI, because in both cases the violence of the heroes distorts their intent. The savage man who accompanies Arthur tears Turpine's porter to pieces, while his attack on a biblical quantity of "forty" yeomen causes Turpine, like Briana, to blame Arthur for killing his people (FQ 6.6.25). Even though Turpine then attacks Arthur from behind and flees from room to room through his castle, he survives because he has used the issue of violence to cloud the moral certainty of Arthur's position. Arthur's sword twists in his hands, as happens in romances whenever the author wants to spare someone from the overwhelming force of a hero ("Yet whether thwart or flatly it did lyte, / The tempted steele did not into his braynepan byte," FQ 6.6.30), while Arthur refrains from a second stroke because Blandina shrieks, shrouds Turpine, and entreats Arthur on her knees to spare him. Arthur calls Turpine a "vile cowheard dogge" (FQ 6.6.33), then lectures him on social courtesy instead of killing him.

The prince of magnificence finds himself in a strangely unsettling situation—such as a foreign culture might offer—where he must abandon traditional notions of right and wrong as he instructs this allegorical figure of social detraction. Arthur accuses Turpine of cowardice, but at the same time, he oddly voices respect for Turpine's right to live as he pleases. We hardly believe Arthur when he informs Turpine that bravery in a bad cause is no vice ("for oft it falles, that strong / And valiant knights doe rashly enterprize, / Either for fame, or else for exercize / A wrongfull quarrell to maintaine by fight," FQ 6.6.35). Turpine need not provide lodging for the wounded, Arthur says, as long as he does not attack secretly or from the back, since, even when defending bad causes, knights have "through prowesse and their brave emprize / Gotten great worship in this worldes sight. / For greater force there needs to maintaine wrong, then right" (FQ 6.6.35; my emphasis). Arthur means to persuade Turpine that it takes little pain to maintain what is right and that Arthur's own violent entry to the castle was of small moment compared to what it might have been had Arthur been in the wrong. Yet his mes-


sage seems overly casuistic, ironically not forceful enough, since Arthur seems to praise the "greater force" needed to maintain wrong while he also he gives Turpine a choice how to behave. He seems to be saying, "your country, right or wrong," as long as you are strong. It is the colonizer's creed.

We recognize what is happening to Arthur from other examples of foul customs in chivalric romances. Normally a knight errant is trapped into upholding local law by the pressure of the population, a provision of the custom itself, or a double bind. Arthur succumbs to this literary tradition by agreeing to Turpine's practice of keeping people out. He ceases to reform the local inhabitants, an act figured by his calling off the savage, who kills yeomen downstairs while Arthur spares Turpine upstairs. Finally he settles down to a "goodly feast" and entertainment provided by Blandina, Turpine's wife, who hides her true aversion to his reform. At Malory's Weeping Castle, Tristram and Galahalt find a way to "fordo" the foul custom when they submit to each other under the guise of sparing one another the shame of defeat (MD 8.27). Arthur spends the night at Turpine's castle after seeming to achieve a similar resolution.

But it is not clear that Arthur makes the correct choice when he yields to Blandina's persuasions and spends the night, although two examples of the custom of the castle topos in Malory's Morte Darthur show that a knight may ignore the behavior of others and depart without fully reforming their foul ways: Sir Dinadan refuses to lodge where the custom of the castle is to joust for bed space (MD 9.23), and Galahad rightly forsakes to kill the seven brothers who maintain the foul custom of the Castle of Maidens (MD 13.16). Here, however, Arthur's reformation proves useless because it depends on a sense of shame that Turpine does not feel. The next morning Arthur leaves Turpine's castle intact, and Turpine continues his attacks.

According to the narrator, Turpine's problem lies in his "vile donghill mind" (FQ 6.7.1). Using his wits, he convinces two knights to kill Arthur by telling them that Arthur ravished his lady, which distorts but


does not totally falsify Arthur's sojourn with Blandina. Arthur's response depends on both prowess and deception. He kills one knight and forces the other, Sir Enias, to bring Sir Turpine to him. Then, in a ploy that seems designed to attack not just Turpine's practice but his mental attitude, Arthur falls asleep—and his savage page wanders off in the woods (FQ 6.7.19)—as Sir Enias, whose name recalls the medieval reputation of Aeneas as the betrayer of Troy, fetches Turpine by tricking him into thinking Prince Arthur is dead. The ruse works, and when the prince wakes and grabs his sword, Turpine falls on the ground and holds up his hands for mercy (FQ 6.7.25).

All values need to be examined. Nothing Arthur does eliminates the social power that Turpine represents and that finds its cause in Turpine's intractable attitude. Arthur sets his foot on Turpine's neck "in signe / Of servile yoke, that nobler harts repine," but since Turpine's heart is not noble, he cannot "repine" or feel shame (FQ 6.7.26). The gesture is lost on him and once again Arthur fails to reform his ways. Arthur calls Turpine names and strips him of his "knightly bannerall," but he did essentially the same thing earlier in the castle, when he forbade him to bear arms and call himself a knight (FQ 6.6.36). Arthur's final act is to hang Turpine by his heels as a warning to others, but what warning can counter detraction? Puttenham translates what the Greeks called asteismus into English as the "merry scoff" or the "civil jest." He gives the example of one who knocked Cato on the head with a long piece of timber, then bade him beware. "What (quoth Cato) wilt thou strike me again?" The humor, Puttenham explains, arises because a warning should be given before, not after. Turpine's punishment is always too late because it comes after the fact: after his slander is already circulating.[34] The "civil jest" reminds us that detraction is not just a court foible, but a deeply rooted confrontation with the Other, because reputations depend on someone else's point of view. Arthur's encounter with Turpine shows a poet concerned about reforming society for a better future but in no sense an idealistic dreamer of utopias.


Chapter Six
Hamlet's Ghost Fear

Quam multa iniusta ac prava fiunt moribus.

Tradition may justify social usages of all degrees of importance, because customs "contain in themselves the authority of the ancestral ghosts," according to William Graham Sumner: "It may well be believed that notions of right and duty, and of social welfare, were first developed in connection with ghost fear."[2] Anxiety arises because "the ghosts of ancestors would be angry if the living should change the ancient folk-ways."[3]

The phenomenon of "ghost fear" as it lingers in the custom of the castle is the tribute paid by romance to the necessarily irrational foundations of community itself, a tribute to the power of an institution or way of life, though posed in narrative terms. An example of ghost fear occurs in a scene in the prose Tristan , one that Malory abridges and that was a source for Ariosto's Tower of Tristan episode. The scene occurs after Tristan and Sir Dynadans ask some shepherds (whose acumen impressed Ariosto) if they know of any lodging. The shepherds say that a castle is nearby, where the custom is that knights must joust against their hosts. The moral issue of knowingly maintaining a foul custom soon


emerges. Dynadans excoriates the "vilainne coustume" that they maintain in their "ostel" (T2 2:132). Only a "vilain," not a knight, makes stranger knights battle before receiving hospitality! The knights answer that their fathers long maintained this custom ("Or saciés bien que nostre peres maintint ceste coustume mout longement," T2 2:133). Therefore they must maintain it until they die, for love of them ("pour l'amour de lui," T2 2:133). Dynadans responds that they offer hostility, not hospitality ("vostre maison n'est pas herberge, ains est tout droitement osteus, car il oste menu et souvent ses ostes!" T2 2:133). Although the lords of this castle make no impression on the japing Dynadans, their excuse is powerful. They maintain the custom because their fathers established it.

Another example, in Malory, occurs when Brunor le Noire, called La Cote Male Taile, explains that he wears a rich but hewn garment because his father was slain in it as he slept, and Brunor seeks revenge on his killer. Brunor accepts his duty without anxiety (and Malory merely comments at the end of his story that he avenged his father's death, after Arthur awards him the Castle of Pendragon which escheated from Sir Brian de les Isles, MD 9.9). In the story of the Weeping Castle, as we have seen, Galahalt feels compelled to avenge his father's death even though he despises the distant isle where he was born and the custom whose maintenance made Sir Tristram his enemy.

Ghost fear also holds Hamlet in its grip, as he feels pressured to conform to the old ways of the past, to take the revenge his father's ghost asks for, even though his reason is unpersuaded. Terry Eagleton contrasts Hamlet's commitment to traditions with the disdain for popular customs expressed by Coriolanus, who represents a new type of "bourgeois individualist," scornful of public forms and "as superbly assured in his inward being as Hamlet is shattered in his."[4] Stanley Cavell claims that Hamlet's father's request for revenge "deprives his son of his identity, of enacting his own existence—it curses, as if spitefully, his being born of this father."[5] Hilary Gatti relates Hamlet's father to the collective ghosts of all ideal fathers: she thus identifies Hamlet's grounds for


"revolt against prevailing cultural modes in the name of a more heroic past symbolized in the figure of a lost father."[6] The phenomenon of "ghost fear," which links Hamlet to the old romance topos of the custom of the castle, involves the recognition by members of a human community that such "irrational" bonds as custom or taboo play a tremendous role in sustaining communities as communities. Whether registered on the level of superstition or general cultural anxiety, the "irrational" custom or tradition plays a role in sustaining society as a sphere within which it is then possible to make "rational" decisions about right and wrong, justice and injustice.

Justice is not a few rules or a set of demands, such as the acceptance of a duty of revenge. It requires knowledge, not a blind following of convention. Socrates makes this point in Plato's Republic , which concludes that virtue depends on the status of an agent, not his or her deed. As Julia Annas explains, "You cannot say what a virtue is by giving a list of kinds of action, for the same kind of action might not display that virtue, and the virtue might be displayed in other kinds of action."[7] Spenser puts the same idea into narrative form in the legend of courtesy, where he refuses to list specific attributes of the virtue. Shakespeare's Hamlet seeks a similar resolution, but in a dramatic mode, to the conflict between action and knowledge. Like a castellan, or a knight errant who suddenly finds himself or herself forced to defend the foul ways of a castle, Hamlet explains the ways of Denmark to Horatio, raises questions about the meaning of what he must do, engages in a duel, and seems committed to customs. More important, the play throws onto the audience the burden of thinking about the arbitrary nature of convention and the relationship between force and justice. The play therefore mirrors Plato's conception of justice, with devices similar to those of chivalric romance, but with a twist. Where chivalric romance represents social practice in the form of a joust to win hospitality or a woman or to escape the demand for a toll as a way of talking about justice, violence, order, and civility, Hamlet represents the force of customs by hiding them.



We want desperately to know the customs of Denmark, and much of the power of Hamlet derives from the fact that we never do. Custom is mentioned more times in Hamlet than in any other Shakespeare play, and given a full range of meanings, but specific customs are often shrouded in mystery, making it difficult to project how Danes should behave. "Is it a custom?" asks Horatio in the fourth scene, after Hamlet explains how the king revels, but to what does Horatio refer? The king's drinking, his excessive drinking, or his drinking late at night? The kettledrum and trumpet "triumph" that follows each draught? Or—perhaps most logically—the disconcerting discharge of artillery, about which Horatio first asks, "What does this mean, my lord?" Hamlet answers directly—"it is a custom"—but pursues his own line of thought, never clarifying the custom (Hamlet 1.4.15). Eventually he gives Horatio a moral discourse about the effect of drunkenness on the national character. From this swirl of uncertainties, some meaning emerges: there is a royal Danish tradition of reveling to the point even of cannon fire that Hamlet's father had demurred from observing.

Despite this seeming clarity, cloudiness prevails in Denmark. The most ambiguous element in this midnight conversation is Hamlet's concession that he is "native here / And to the manner born." His saying "but to my mind, though I am native here" implies that he disagrees with his country's custom, that he approves of breaching it—"it is a custom / More honor'd in the breach than the observance" (Hamlet 1.4.15-16). But if Hamlet agrees with this breach, this battering of the wall of custom, his "though" is unnecessary. For the concessive suggests that Hamlet opposes even that custom he has witnessed, when not in Wittenburg, during the thirty years of his life—the time of his father's reign. He should say, "But to my mind, and I am a native here / And to the manner born," we don't usually do this sort of thing, although there is an old out-of-date tradition for it. A copulative would serve, but it


would also provide a definite statement of what the custom has been.

Such precision the play avoids here and everywhere. Certainly Danish drunkenness has never gone out of style, or Hamlet could not complain that his country is "traduc'd and tax'd of other nations." But the nature of the drunkenness oscillates. Drinking in Denmark is both excessive—"they clip us drunkards"—and minimal, important in its unimportance, a "vicious mole," "defect," or "dram of eale" whose corrupting influence is out of proportion to its size (Hamlet 1.4.18-36). We may say that Hamlet objects to the sign of the drinking, not the drinking itself. Rather than condemning the vice in his ensuing speech, Hamlet complains about how foreigners perceive Danish drunkenness. But if he is indeed meditating on the corrupting influence of Claudius, it is a corruption that at this point, before the appearance of his father's ghost, only he can see. His literal objection, this early in the play, would then be not to the stain of Claudius but to his uncle's Machiavellian exploitation of a popular Danish pastime to ingratiate himself with the people. For if all Danes drink, then Claudius is merely one of the boys, so to speak, and cannot infect the state. This logic supports the normal reading, that the custom to which Hamlet objects is the loud ceremony that accompanies and calls attention to the drinking. This is the custom one usually honors by breaching it, by not observing it. The custom of this custom is that it is not a custom—the custom is out of fashion.

The anxieties of a culture caught in a moment of painful transition shape the patterns of customary behavior in Hamlet that form and un-form before our eyes. Within the castle walls at Elsinore, codes of behavior have been lost or no longer obtain. The resulting social crisis has been obscured by debates about Hamlet's character or strictly ontological issues such as whether the ghost is really a demon, or whether an injunction to revenge is morally valid or was considered morally valid by Shakespeare's original audience. Hamlet's actions have been treated as a problem of individuality and identity. But that Shakespeare hides the mores of Denmark does not mean that such issues are aspects of Hamlet's or Gertrude's or the ghost's character and status. Instead, the play is


about our struggle to make sense of patterns, codes, and ideals of conduct that have suddenly become important to a man living through a social transition.


Custom, writes Jonathan Dollimore, was the sixteenth century's word for ideology. Customs were regarded as both social practices and a means for the ruling class to control society.[8] But customs are not just instruments of oppression, argues Marshall Sahlins in Culture and Practical Reason . They are expressions of a more deeply symbolic order. Customs are arbitrary in the sense Ferdinand de Saussure meant when he noted that there is no inherent relation between a sound-image and a concept. All words that express similar concepts in a given language determine the value of any term. Moreover, language mediates our perception of objects. Taken alone, neither practical reason nor culture (defined as a common understanding that transcends immediate circumstances) accounts for the symbolic logic that organizes behavior. Both together determine social forms. For Sahlins, therefore, a culture harnesses nature to its own symbolic work, because symbolism is not inherent in objects, but instead arises from a culture's perception of objects.[9]

Hamlet faces a particular, even emblematic, problem of custom when he must respond to his dead father's presence. More than a catalyst to action, the ghost's appearance calls Hamlet to articulate his passionate attachment to the forms of things past whose loss he mourns. A variety of social ambiguities tease us because they offer themselves to historical positioning—current debates over drinking,[10] or the fashion of wearing hats, or child actors—everything from suits of woe to Italian penmanship. Hamlet dies in a rapier duel, a social practice that had only recently come into fashion in late sixteenth-century England.

The effect of Hamlet's mirroring of contemporary England is to establish the illusion that new customs are urging themselves to the fore


in Elsinore. Ophelia takes as a sign of madness that Hamlet came to her with "no hat upon his head" (Hamlet 2.1.76). But later, Hamlet offers Osric a subtle lesson in how a social system may refuse to recognize another's good intentions, when he mocks Osric's social address by asking him to put his "bonnet to his right use, 'tis for the head" (Hamlet 5.2.92).[11] For Osric, the forms of ceremony require that he take off his hat when speaking to his superior. Osric then experiences the panic of one for whom specific rules fail. When Montaigne visited Italy, he could not get over the fact that Alfonso if, the duke of Ferrara, removed his hat as a mark of respect to his visitors when they entered, and did not replace it until the audience ended.[12] In contrast a later entry in his journal noted that the pope doffed his cap to no one ("le pape ne tire jamais le bonnet à qui que ce soit").[13] Lancelot Andrewes traces to the Apostles' times the contention over "whether men were to pray uncovered , and women veiled or no?"[14] Sumner (who knew Hamlet ) cited tipping the hat among usages that "contain no principle of welfare, but serve convenience so long as all know what they are expected to do."[15] Although Boccaccio in his Filocolo makes a game of whether doffing a garland or putting it on signals more respect, the issue could be very serious.[16] Suffolk's pride could not endure that he should "stand uncover'd to the vulgar groom" (2 Henry VI 4.1.124-128). These questions of what came to be called etiquette produce an anxiety of civility—civility in the sense Puttenham means it, as that which has to do with public society.[17]

If sixteenth-century thinkers did not define customs as the arbitrary and symbolic expression of a culture, they nonetheless questioned the validity of customs as a source of values, despite their apparent usefulness. Customs represented the voice of the past but still required interpretation, giving them a two-faced or Janus-like quality. They were able to undergo change through time while remaining one and the same thing, like a substance that remains constant while what Aristotle would call its "accidents" change. Customs, since they were of no certain origin, were both always old and always new. This notion of precedence is the key to the strange concept of the "ancient constitution" that played


such a strong role in shaping English common law in the years when Shakespeare was writing.

The essence of custom was that it was immemorial, and the argument could . . . be used that, since the people had retained a given custom through many centuries, it had proved itself apt to meet all the emergencies which had arisen during that period. Custom was tam antiqua et tam nova , always immemorial and always perfectly up-to-date.[18]

Custom was also a rhetorical as well as legal topic.[19] When Thomas Wilson in his Arte of Rhetorique defined custom as that "which long time hath confirmed, being partly grounded upon nature, and partly upon reason," he did so to show how an orator could manipulate custom to suit his persuasive purpose.[20] That is, the orator could discourse on time, nature, or reason, and define each to suit his topic. In particular the possibility of defining time to fit one's argument had been recognized at least since Saint Augustine, who confessed that he knew what time was as long as no one asked him, but when someone asked "What is time?" he did not know. Paul Ricoeur begins Time and Narrative with Augustine's remark to support his claim that time cannot be defined, only narrated.[21] Ricoeur's thought, in turn, suggests that narrative is not so much a literary form as a category of knowledge, as time and space were for Kant. In postmodern terms, stories structure our experience of the world.[22] When a dying Hamlet instructs Horatio "to tell my story," he realizes that Horatio will only be able to recount it "more or less": "the rest is silence" (Hamlet 5.2.349, 357-358).

The temporal indeterminacy of Shakespeare's As You Like It , another play about a young man whose father's spirit impels him to action against current corruption,[23] corresponds to our inability to construct a full account of Hamlet . In the comedy, probably written just before Hamlet , it is unclear how long Duke Senior has lived in the Forest of Arden: Charles the wrestler implies at one point that Duke Frederick has only recently banished his brother, but Celia later says she was "young"


when the banishment occurred.[24] When Duke Senior asks his forest followers whether "old custom" has not "made this life more sweet / Than that of painted pomp?" (As You Like It 2.1.2.), he may mean that he and his followers have grown accustomed over a long time to winter and rough weather, or he may mean that they have rediscovered in the pastoral setting certain lost virtues of friendship and consideration—the "old custom" that, the play suggests, they will bring back to court as soon as the plot allows them to return after their sojourn in the forest.

Hamlet never learns what to do—or more precisely, when to do it. Orlando, by contrast, receives good instruction. Rosalind's education of her lover, moreover, takes the form of lessons in timing, from her initial lecture on the varying pace of time—it trots, ambles, or gallops according to circumstances—to her insistence that Orlando be on time in keeping his appointments with her. As a strong woman who shapes the social order to suit herself, Rosalind is Shakespeare's successor to Spenser's Britomart and Ariosto's female warriors (Marfisa and Bradamante), who compete with men in the customs of chivalry, often by controlling time, while wandering through the forests of romance. Rosalind's instruction of a rather bewildered Orlando—she cures his passion by polishing his manners—turns her restoration, by means of the play's powers of illusion, into the vision of a better world of courtesy and civility, a world of good customs to which the medieval concept of chivalry continues to be applied.[25]

The proper names of As You Like It (Arden, Orlando, Oliver, Charles) echo those of the Italian romanzi . (In Thomas Lodge's euphuistic pastoral Rosalynde , Shakespeare's direct source, the hero is named Rosader, not Orlando.) Shakespeare almost certainly knew the custom of the castle topos, not just from John Harington's translation of the Furioso or from The Faerie Queene , but also from commonly reprinted chivalric romances such as Malory's Morte Darthur, Bevis of Hampton, Palmerin of Englande, Palmerin d'Oliva , and especially Amadis of Gaul , where every adventure of both Amadis and his brother Galaor involves a castle and a foul custom, often the product of an enchantment that prevents a young


lady from attaining her rightful inheritance.[26] Given the shift in mode from chivalric narrative to drama, the custom of the castle forms the background to Shakespeare's imagery if not the object of his direct imitation. Customs remain an important theme in Shakespeare's later plays, one whose meaning can be brought out by keeping in mind the elements of the custom of the castle topos: the keeper of the custom, the errant knight who faces it, the nature of the custom, and the castle that contains it.


Shakespeare rarely uses the word custom in plays earlier than Henry V , where the first use of a form of the word occurs when York speaks of the king's "customary rights" in France. Attracted by the perquisites of custom, King Henry sends Exeter to France to say that he intends to have all the honors that belong to the crown of France "by custom, and the ordinance of times" (Henry V 2.4.83). By the end of the play, Henry finds in his use of custom a way to legitimize the royal inheritance left him by his usurping father. His boldness contrasts to the vascillations of disinherited Hamlet.

To avoid offending the ghost of those ancestral kings whose line his own father had usurped, Henry V learns to manipulate customs. We see his political acumen in symbolic form at the end of the play as Henry woos Katherine of France. When he wants to kiss her, he ignores her appeal to custom, which is given in French to stress its ineffectiveness (just as York wants the king to say "pardon" in French to nullify the efficacy of the words in Richard II ): "Les dames et demoiselles pour être baisée devant leur noces, il n'est pas la coutume de France."[27] When Henry kisses her, he overcomes custom as a sign of Katherine's otherness and opposition to him. He also affirms his political dominance.

O Kate, nice customs cur'sy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confin'd within the weak list of a country's fashion. We are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places


stops the mouth of all find-faults, as I will do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country in denying me a kiss; therefore patiently and yielding. [Kissing her .] (Henry V 5.2.268-275)

Henry's theory that he can create customs—although he leaves unsaid the usual justification that he is only restoring an older usage that has been usurped—reappears in Hamlet in the opening speech of Claudius. The new king welters between nature and reason (which Claudius calls "discretion"). But Hamlet calls into question Claudius's political manipulation of custom. Where Claudius thinks Hamlet's time of mourning too long, Hamlet thinks it too short. Where Claudius is justified by reason, which claims to understand death and so control one's reaction to it, Hamlet claims to be justified by nature, which would mourn. Claudius condemns his nephew's behavior as "a fault to nature, / To reason most absurd, whose common theme / Is death of fathers" (Hamlet 1.2.102-103). But Hamlet's scorn raises questions: Why not "mirth in funeral" and "dirge in marriage" (Hamlet 1.2.12)? What is the customary period of mourning for a father? For Gertrude's dead husband?

Distracted by the reappearance of his father's ghost, which now only he can see, Hamlet, who thinks himself one who must set things right, accuses his mother of staining his father's memory. Wildly assuming she has intercourse with Claudius every day (what is the norm for married Danish royalty where the male partner drinks excessively?), he would have her refrain from her adulterous bed for one night, "and that shall lend a kind of easiness / To the next abstinence, the next more easy; For use almost can change the stamp of nature" (Hamlet 3.4.161-162). His lecture to her reflects an approach to moral education through "habituation" that, R. M. Frye observes, "can be traced through Luther, Erasmus, Aquinas and many others, back to Aristotle."[28] It is her ability to choose, and the uncertainty of the moral value of an action, that leads him to call custom a "monster" (as Viola in Twelfth Night calls herself a monster because, disguised as a man, she is half one thing and half an-


other). Hamlet tells his mother that she has the power to choose whether she will rely on a habit that makes her "act in character" in an unproblematic way, or whether she will consider that her lovemaking is a habit that ought to be changed because it leaves her vulnerable. But does Gertrude have such a choice?

Besides leaving us uncertain about some customs and habits, certain judgments in Hamlet assume an unsupportable definitiveness. Laertes and Polonius, for example, tell Ophelia how to behave with Hamlet, but the play is vague about premarital conduct. Hamlet's behavior is not custom but "a fashion and a toy in blood" (Hamlet 1.3.6). Laertes objects that Hamlet's inheritance makes him unfit for Ophelia: "His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own." But since Gertrude has no objections ("I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife," Hamlet 5.1.244), we cannot be sure what the custom is. What should Ophelia do? Laertes lectures her, but she asks him to consider his own behavior. On that subject, Renaldo seeks to learn from Polonius, whose standards are not clear, what is expected of a young Dane in Paris.

By withholding evidence of Hamlet's normal patterns of behavior and daily routine—whether he practices fencing or plays pranks (such as, perhaps, appearing in slovenly dress before Ophelia)—the play makes it impossible for us to judge how far he deviates and whether he is mad. Everything in the play seems deviant, but in another culture—in England, as the grave digger says—no one would notice (Hamlet 5.1.155). Shakespeare can make his characters do anything and make us believe anything he puts into the world of Hamlet because he withholds the norms.[29]

Shakespeare eliminates what Fredson Bowers called "the normal guideposts to assist an audience in its interpretation of the action."[30] The resulting "vagueness" (Bower's word) shifts our attention to the moral status of Hamlet, a status that seems to alter in the last act.[31] In answer to our own puzzlement, we seem to glimpse Hamlet's soul when he lectures Horatio on the fall of a sparrow and declares that the "readiness is all" (Hamlet 5.2.219-222). As G. K. Hunter writes, Hamlet's


heroism depends less on "acting or even knowing than upon being. "[32] The shift parallels Plato's search for the meaning of justice elsewhere than in the world.

Our view of Hamlet's inner history may change, but not that of others: Claudius is still a murderer who, although he loses his life, gets his man. As Harry Levin observes, "Tragedy always culminates when the survivor takes over with an appeal to the restoration of order."[33] Might not right triumphs in the form of Fortinbras, who orders a military funeral for Hamlet, although Hamlet has shown no inclination for life in a regiment. What is the funeral custom for a prince? Is it to be buried in armor, like his father's ghost? Or is the equation of royalty with soldier-ship the form the Norwegian Fortinbras prefers, the custom he intends to establish, once the election lights on him, when and if he takes up residence within the battlements of Elsinore, keeping the customs of the Danes?

Hamlet , like Spenser's Book of Courtesy, questions whether civility can ever be defined in a particular way. All custom of the castle scenes are images of social integration, but some of them give special emphasis to the particular strain of altering custom. Doubt and uncertainty attend the realization that customs may be created, that people alter the institutions they pass to the future. The next chapter shows Shakespeare's solution to this anxiety in the castles of Macbeth , which illustrate the distant, future orientation of English customary law. The model for the displacement of medieval castles in subsequent fiction, Macbeth offers an oxymoronic vision of the future as the time of good customs.


Chapter Seven
Macbeth's Future: "A Thing of Custom"

Sixteenth-century Protestantism solved the problem of social change by projecting itself not as revolutionary but as a return to the better ways of the past. The restored church modeled itself on the ways of Christ's first apostles.[1] This pattern extended from religious to legal and political affairs. The fiction of common lawyers in the early seventeenth century was that custom was always up-to-date, or the people would discard it; at the same time, it was by definition immemorial, "in the full sense of 'traceable to no original act of foundation.'"[2] Sir Edward Coke argued to King James what would become Edmund Burke's Whig position, that no man could be wiser than the laws, because the law, based on ancient customs, contained the sum of many men's wisdom. It did not matter that customs could only be thought immemorial by men whose historical imaginations failed to consider the effect of the Norman conquest.[3] The result was a valorization of common law as "nothing else but the Common Custome of the realm."[4]

Not unexpectedly, the past was then harnessed to political agendas. During Shakespeare's prime working years, the Parliamentary party argued that ancient customs formed the very basis of English common law. By 1604, when King James assumed the throne and Macbeth was


first produced, the value of custom as a means of reading the past and preparing for the future had reached a new urgency. The key to customary law was that the future could always be justified by the past, a trick that civil law, which James favored, could not perform.[5]

This chapter argues that just as English customs could be used to justify a better future, Macbeth empties Dunsinane of himself, a form of exorcism that allows an oppressive castle to be reinscribed as a sign of justice. Midway through the play, Lady Macbeth strives to excuse Macbeth's derangement as a "thing of custom" (Macbeth 3.4.96), but we know it arises from his fear of Banquo's ghost. The play ends when Macbeth at Dunsinane proclaims that "Our castle's strength / Will laugh a siege to scorn" (Macbeth 5.5.2-3), then inexplicably abandons his fortress. In so doing, Macbeth allows what he perceives to be the significance of his own castle to solve the social, political, and personal problems his ambition has created.

Exorcizing a castle, whether by siege or dispossession, offers a powerful image of the establishment of a civil society. André Chastel has shown how Protestant propaganda turned Rome into an infernal Babylon before imperial troops entered the city in 1527. Rome was first demonized by propaganda and then exorcized by invading troops. Thus emptied, its walls could be reinscribed with the new ideologies that Chastel traces through later sixteenth-century art.[6] The formula of demonization, exorcism, and reinscription imitates the origins of Christianity, the new law that replaced the old. The formula also describes what happens to the image of a castle when a knight errant overcomes its foul customs.

Critics have generally interpreted the castles of Macbeth as images of hell. Macbeth's porter, after all, claims to be tending hell's gates when he answers Macduff's knocking, and Macbeth turns Scotland into an inferno to defend the usurped crown he wears.[7] Christ's harrowing of hell was a favorite theme of the morality plays, the source usually cited for Macbeth . The morality plays end with demonstrations of God's mercy; in the Castle of Perseverance (1405-1425), for example, which David Bev-


ington calls "the grand archetype of moral plays," the conclusion finds the protagonist "unprepared for Death, sin-ridden, deserted by friends, his worldly treasure, and his heirs, and so deficient in good deeds that he must depend solely on God's mercy."[8] Macbeth, "sick at heart" as his thanes fly from him, recognizes this abandonment as his own situation: "And that which should accompany old age / As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, / I must not look to have" (Macbeth 5.3.24-26). Just as medicines can be poisons if misapplied, Macbeth's admirable desire for a safe tomorrow and peaceful old age elicits his murderous depravity in that strange combination of good and bad qualities—of good qualities made fatal by circumstances—that we regard as essential to a properly tragic hero.

The paradigm of the custom of the castle suggests that Macbeth's death benefits society as well as his soul.[9] The self-exorcism of Dunsinane blurs the issue of guilt and innocence, increasing Macbeth's heroic stature even as his murders and guilty conscience make us wish for his defeat. Macbeth's castles, once haunted by foul crimes, stand open to new masters, new customs.

I. Inverness

T. S. Eliot contrasted Dante's allegorical style—where images are clear, even if their meaning is uncertain—to the unique convergence of "intelligibility and remoteness" that makes Shakespeare's English harder for a non-native speaker to understand than Dante's Italian. Eliot chose the castle description of Macbeth as his example:[10]


This castle hath a pleasant seat, the air


Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself


Unto our gentle senses.



This guest of summer


The temple-haunting [martlet], does approve,


By his lov'd [mansionry], that the heaven's breath


Smells wooingly here; no jutty, frieze,


Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird


Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle.


Where they [most] breed and haunt, I have observ'd


The air is delicate.


(Macbeth 1.6.1-9)

Duncan and Banquo actually describe not the castle but the air around it. Literally, their words indicate that the location of Macbeth's castle positions it so that a wind clears it of the smells associated with lack of sanitation. On a map, Inverness stands at the top of Loch Ness, where to Shakespeare's imagination the breeze would doubtless be brisk. Movie versions show us the castle in the distance, and stage notes have Lady Macbeth greet Duncan outside the castle.[11] Yet the torches and hautboys of the First Folio suggest an interior scene.

Poetry projects olfactory sensations with difficulty. It is easy to miss that Banquo and Duncan describe what they smell as much as what they see. Harry Berger has argued that Banquo hides his thoughts from Duncan in this conversation, although he projects himself as a war bird (mar tlet) whose procreant cradle will produce future kings of Scotland.[12] If the play closes by raising the possibility that Macduff may become Malcolm's Macbeth—he has killed one king of Scotland (Macbeth) and may make a habit of it—at this point Banquo, who knows the witches' prophecy for Macbeth, may intuit—or smell into (as the Fool says in King Lear )—more than he reveals.[13]

Like the uncertain future that stretches beyond dusty tomorrows, the innocent past lies tantalizingly beyond the bounds of the play. Macbeth's letter and sudden arrival makes indeterminable the precise point at which Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to wish Duncan dead. Even as he prepares a dagger for Duncan's throat, Macbeth conjures a former social order of "even-handed justice" (Macbeth 1.7.10) which the movement of the play will eventually reimpose. This vision of a former world raises the hope for a better tomorrow, just as ancient customs theoretically determine future conduct in the common law.


Shakespeare's sources offered no details about Duncan's murder except that, prodded by his wife, Macbeth kills the king "at Enverns, or (as some say) at Botgosuane."[14] Nothing in the play raises specific alternatives to the murder plot Lady Macbeth devises, such as the possibility of Macbeth's killing Duncan in a jealous rage after finding him in bed with Lady Macbeth, or "accidentally" pushing him off a battlement, or poisoning his supper. The suitability—as Lady Macbeth sees it—of a lone Scottish castle for murder disguises the question of whether Macbeth's letter implies that the couple had previously discussed the death of Duncan.

If the play's sleight of hand precludes one from imagining a better murder plan than that cobbled together under the pressure of Duncan's sudden arrival, the eventual failure of Macbeth's purpose for murdering Duncan gives the lie to Lady Macbeth's declaration that time and place "have made themselves" (Macbeth 1.7.53). When Lady Macbeth herself greets Duncan, the porter is significantly absent: his romance role would have been to explain the castle's ways, that a king who enters risks death. Lady Macbeth substitutes. But she has replaced Banquo's martlets with her own raven thoughts; called on spirits, murdering ministers, and night; and haunted the castle before Duncan's entrance to its battlements. When she and Duncan exchange convoluted courtesies, the double duties Lady Macbeth advertises—"All our service / In every point twice done, and then done double" (Macbeth 1.6.14-15)—mimic her double purpose and duplicity.

Whereas Macbeth tells himself that his only fear is to lose "the present horror of the time, / Which now suits with it" (Macbeth 2.1.59-60), his wife consciously expresses a visionary future. Eager for murder, when she first greets Macbeth she tells him she feels "the future in the instant" (Macbeth 1.4.57). "Tomorrow" (Macbeth 1.4.59)—to her mind the day when Duncan remains alive—need never come. Shakespeare's characters typically listen to what others say, and may use a word scenes or acts later because prompted by something spoken earlier. Lady Macbeth's narrow view of "tomorrow" haunts Macbeth, until he turns the word over three times on hearing she has died.


From the time of Chrétien de Troyes, romances reflect the situation of a feudal nobility caught between what Erich Köhler called an ambitious and increasingly centralized monarchy and a rising urban bourgeoisie of merchants, manufacturers, and jurists.[15] Macbeth is a nobleman, and the play's opening scenes further establish him as a type of knight or warrior used to killing at close quarters. He slays the merciless Macdonwald with a reverse sword stroke typical of romance heroes, unseaming him from the "nave to th' chops" (Macbeth 1.2.22). Editors with an eye on Shakespeare's sources have rightly glossed the sisters whom Macbeth meets as images of fate, the Anglo-Saxon "weird," but the consistent spelling of weird as "weyward" in the 1623 folio, our only early text of the play, suggests the theme of knight errancy as well—the wanderings and errors and right ways and wrong ways and crossroads and Herculean Y's of romance knights seeking adventure.

As the wolf howls and Macbeth moves with "Tarquin's ravishing strides" (Macbeth 2.1.55), like injustice incarnate, toward the chamber where Duncan sleeps, he fears not so much the event or failure or eternal damnation, though each of these enters his consideration. More strikingly, his mind leaps to that point in future time just beyond his control; he craves finality, to "jump the life to come" (Macbeth 1.7.7). But closure eludes his imagination, and this factor also contributes to the portrait of Macbeth as a knight of romance, the literary form that, David Quint argues, lacks the ability of epic to terminate.[16] Instead of projecting a kind of teleological sublime, Macbeth's thoughts form a court for "judgment," where his "vaulting ambition" takes sides against the logic of precedent: "we but teach / Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return / to plague th' inventor" (Macbeth 1.7.8-10, 27). Unable to project a settled future to justify his gruesome course, Macbeth passes sentence against himself as he broods on "consequence":

                    This even-hand justice
Commends th' ingredience of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips.
        (Macbeth  1.7.10-12)


Like Brutus or Othello, Macbeth projects conditions under which he deserves to perish. When he abandons Dunsinane, his imaginings find a way out.[17]

II. Forres

Succession—the issue that preys on Macbeth's mind—is a powerful instance of social custom. The rules of Tanistry obtain in Scotland, in Holinshed's account, whereby the title devolves by popular election on the warrior best able to sustain it. A few years after Macbeth , the rule of Tanistry would be outlawed in Ireland—the country whose customs seem to have made England so conscious of her habits and manners.[18] Macbeth thinks Duncan defrauds him, because

by the old lawes of the realme, the ordinance was, that if he that should succeed were not of able age to take the charge upon himselfe, he that was next of bloud unto him should be admitted.[19]

The play, by contrast, ignores the Tanistry issue, making it seem that only Macbeth's perverse ambition leads him to believe that he and not Malcolm should be named as successor.

Duncan announces the succession at Forres, where he also conjures an image of a nostalgic time, when traitors were executed and hypocrites, whose faces did not betray them, were exposed. Macbeth professes his loyalty in the kind of intricate language associated with ceremonial customs and the ritual expectations of feudal exchange, although his words hint at his concern for his own posterity: "Your Highness' part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne and state children and servants" (Macbeth 1.4.23-25). Mimicking the inscrutable features of his predecessor, the Thane of Cawdor, which led Duncan to conclude that "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face," Macbeth seeks to disguise his "deep desires" before Duncan calls Macbeth's valor a "banquet" during the first scene set at Forres (Macbeth 1.4.11-12, 51, 56).


Later in the play, Forres offers itself as a place where Macbeth can harbor himself, his murderous ways, and his brittle deluded hopes (before the witches dash them in act four) of passing his title to a son. At Forres, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seek to establish ceremonial order after the death of Duncan. The banquet scene at the royal palace plays out the conflict between Macbeth's murders and a vision of a future when Macbeth can be free from fear, a vision conjured by the open sky of Scone where Macbeth was crowned, "whole as the marble, founded as the rock, / As broad and general as the casing air" (Macbeth 3.4.21-22). As Macbeth welcomes his guests, he makes his banquet the image of former, untroubled times. As in some noncompetitive golden age, the guests each know their "own degrees" (Macbeth 3.4.1). No keeper of the castle is needed to seat them, as if the absence of a castellan indicates the absence of evil custom. Macbeth condescends to mingle, while Lady Macbeth keeps her woman's place of silence apart—"my heart speaks they are welcome" (Macbeth 3.4.7), letting her husband talk formally for her.

The banquet at Fortes uses ceremonies and priorities of seating to give physical shape and civilized expression to underlying debts and obligations and competition. But Macbeth's murderers disrupt this expression of social order, prompting Lady Macbeth to complain that Macbeth's private conversation with them, in drawing him apart, devalues the meal's "ceremony" (Macbeth 3.4.35). In Holinshed's ambiguous account, Macbeth, it may be argued, has Banquo murdered on his way home from dinner at Fortes, "so that he would not have his house slandered."[20] Shakespeare clearly puts the murder first, so that Banquo's ghost can invade the ceremonial dinner. The entrance of Banquo's ghost thrusts the image of order into the past—the image of what a shaken Macbeth calls "th' olden time, / Ere humane statute purg'd the gentle weal" (Macbeth 3.4.75).[21] Lady Macbeth desperately attempts to give the name of normalcy to the disorder that Banquo's ghost stirs in Macbeth—"Think of this, good peers, / But as a thing of custom" (Macbeth 3.4.95-96). It is not obvious to Lady Macbeth—nor would it have been


clear to many English jurists—that disorder cannot be justified and social concord restored under the sign of "custom."

III. Dunsinane

Macbeth is at first a just king in Holinshed, who rules well for ten years. Then he starts to fear that "he should be served of the same cup, as he had ministered to his predecessor."[22] Once he eliminates Banquo, he finds that he benefits in two ways from killing off his nobility: they cannot threaten him, and he gets their property. He orders the construction of Dunsinane as an image of central power and a way to dominate his nobles, who must in turn finance and assist in its construction:

Further, to the end he might the more cruellie oppresse his subjects with all tyrantlike wrongs, he builded a strong castell on the top of an hie hill called Dunsinane, situate in Gowrie, ten miles from Perth, on such a proud height, that standing there aloft, a man might behold well neere all the countries of Angus, Fife, Stermond, and Ernedale, as it were lieing underneath him.[23]

In the Holinshed tradition, the castle at Dunsinane—a high hill surveying several counties—offers Macbeth an image of his pride and a place from which to oppress his nobles. The castle is not primarily defensive. When the English forces arrive, Macbeth leaves its walls to face the enemy in the field.

In Shakespeare's play, by contrast, Dunsinane shelters a man who lives in constant fear. Like Inverness, where Macbeth hears noises after he murders Duncan, Dunsinane becomes a projection of Macbeth's psychic state, for Dunsinane represents a riddle of the future. Macbeth hears the name when he seeks two prophetic answers from the "wey-ward" sisters.[24] First, he wants to know if he will be killed. Second, he wants to know if Banquo's issue will reign. After Macbeth is shown three apparitions—the armed head, the bloody child, and the child crowned, with a tree in his hand—he concludes that he "shall live the lease of na-


ture, pay his breath / To time and mortal custom" (Macbeth 4.1.99-100). The question about Banquo's issue is answered by "a show of eight Kings , [the eighth] with a glass in his hand, and Banquo last." Macbeth believes the two answers contradict each other: why, if the witches correctly (as he believes) predict that he will live long will Banquo's issue inherit the throne?

What seems to ensue—if we accept Banquo as the ancestor of King James—is that Macbeth soon dies, while Banquo's issue succeeds. One set of prophecies (the apparitions) is ambiguous, the other (the show of kings) accurate. But why should the witches' spectacle of kings unambiguously foretell the future? They do so because Dunsinane represents that "imagined better state" that R. S. Crane identified as the key to Macbeth's conduct.[25] As an omen of social change, Dunsinane is first mentioned when the weird sisters produce their third apparition, the child crowned. A shift in accent suggests that Macbeth misinterprets what the sovereign child tells him about the length of his own reign. Informing Macbeth that he will rule just as long as Birnan Wood does not move, the apparition gives Dunsinane a penultimate stress ("Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be untíl / Great Bírnan wóod to hígh Dunsínane híll / Shall come against him," Macbeth 4.1.92-94). Macbeth pronounces it another way ("Till Birnan Wood remove to Dunsináne / I cannot taint with fear," Macbeth 5.3.2). Macbeth regards Dunsinane as an image of his own safe future, but the shift in pronunciation reinforces his self-deception.

After Macbeth takes (false) hope from the witches in act four, Dunsinane becomes his sole habitation. We see him nowhere else. He mentions the Birnan Wood prophecy frequently while there, though he says nothing about the succession that tormented him earlier ("For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind," Macbeth 3.1.64). He sends others to kill Lady Macduff (he personally murders her in Holinshed). While he remains within, he orders Seyton to scour the countryside and hang those who talk of fear (Macbeth 5.3.36). From a military perspective, there is no reason not to believe him when he proclaims that "our castle's


strength / Will laugh a siege to scorn" (Macbeth 5.5.3-4). Macbeth has "supp'd full with horrors" (Macbeth 5.5.135), but at Dunsinane, he seems to have buried his fear while conducting a reign of terror.

Dunsinane appears to Macbeth as a refuge. He constandy scrutinizes it as a way to control society, ostensibly because it keeps him safe as long as Birnan Wood stays away. Lady Macbeth's death changes his perception. Psychologically, Macbeth removes himself because his caste, haunted by his dead wife, no longer corresponds to his vision of a safe future. Despite the advantage of the castle, Macbeth then arms and meets the English forces in the field.

To understand this shift we need to recognize that Lady Macbeth's death takes place in the same interval of the eternal present that confines Macbeth throughout the play—cut off from the past, unable to reach the safe future. First, Macbeth hears a cry. Before he learns the source of the sound, he recalls a happier time, before blood had dulled his sensibilities, a time when he could feel horror—"The time had been, my senses would have cool'd / to hear a night-shriek" (Macbeth 5.5.10). Seyton then announces Lady's Macbeth's death. His words prompt Macbeth's soliloquy on the empty significance of tomorrow. The announcement of Birnan Wood's movement closes the interval in which Macbeth loses his hold on that "imagined better state" whose heroic pursuit turned his murders into tragic misdeeds. Realizing his future is empty, Macbeth engages in a form of sympathetic magic: he empties his castle to allow its reinscription by others. The gesture reveals the courage that makes Macbeth attractive despite his foul deeds. His departure, with harness on his back, leaves the edifice open to the invading forces.

Emptied by Macbeth, Dunsinane welcomes the English as Macbeth fights in the field. "This way, my lord, the castle's gently rendered," Siward tells Malcolm: "Enter, sir the castle" (Macbeth 5.7.24, 30). Shakespeare's direct sources provide nothing like this moment. But the literary roots of a castle that both symbolizes the law and also shelters foul customs stretch back through chivalric romance. The sea change in


Macbeth's perception of Dunsinane—his self-abandonment of what previously had represented future hope but now seems only a reminder of past sin—depends on the symbolism that made castles a sign of status and future hope.

Macbeth's intuition that he is the keeper of foul customs leads him to face the invading forces, a military decision also found in one of the chivalric romances Shakespeare may well have read, Anthony Munday's 1591 translation of Palmerin d'Oliva:

When the King of Scots understood the coming of the King of England, and that in all haste he would bid him battle [he conferred] with his Captains about their present affairs, concluding to offer the enemy skirmishes, because thereby they would know their intent.

Although the confrontation seems unsettled, the Scottish king suddenly foresees the future, to the amazement of the English:

Notwithstanding he gave order to prepare for battle, because he knew the King of England came for no other purpose. The Englishmen, not suffering the Scots to have leisure to fortify themselves, were by the king the next morning commanded in array, and all wings and squadrons appointed.[26]

Dunsinane, as Macbeth abandons it, represents his recognition of society's need to forget—in the name of futurity—the amount of injustice and repression that goes on in the process of civilization. With Macbeth's demise, banished good returns, evil is purged, savage customs are tamed. Macbeth's foul ways and his castles yield to the new dominion promised by Malcolm: domestic order, civility, proper burial, true succession. At the political level, the northward march of Malcolm, Siward, and their English troops, who join disaffected Scottish lords at Birnan, softens what might otherwise be viewed as imperial conquest. As the play ends, the invaders appear to restore sound but temporarily displaced Scottish traditions, which dovetail with good English manners. Malcolm—the son of Duncan, the virgin warrior and instrument of jus-


tice—renames his "thanes and kinsmen" with the English word "earls" (Macbeth 5.9.28-30). But he maintains the custom of being "crown'd at Scone," a nostalgic but powerful sign, the image of a wild, romantic past when kings were freely chosen in the open air, when justice still walked on earth, and ghosts did not yet dance on castle ruins—an image that Protestant propaganda used to justify attacks on Church of Rome property, as in Lewes Lavatar's gloss on Isaiah 34:

In the ruinous and tottering Pallaces, Castles, and houses, horrible spirits shal appeare with terrible cries, and the Satyro shal call unto hir mate, yea the night hags shal take their rest there. For by the sufferance of God, wicked Devils work strange things in those places where men have exercised pride and cruelty.[27]

By exorcizing such demons from old castles, the social resolution envisioned by Macbeth combines the old and the new, the distant source of ancient and good customs and the present that winnows away foul accretions, to provide a glimpse of a proper future, a more civil society.


Chapter Eight
Epilogue: The Disappearing Castle

The universal tension between public justice and private control underwent a radical change in vocabulary during the 1020s, according to Georges Duby, as new divisions of power were established in France. The heart of the new social unit was the castrum , or castle; it was a tower in the countryside, and its design echoed the walls of a city under regal control. "The castle was an ambivalent symbol: it was both the seat of justice and the base of a potentially oppressive power, a sign of the lord's duty to protect his people and also of his right to command and, if necessary, punish them."[1]

The Normans who invaded England relied on such castles to maintain their authority over a large and far-flung population.[2] Castles functioned to protect the realm, as residences for the king, and as centers of shrieval administration. Royal castles also provided a depository for public records, food supplies, wine, and prisoners.[3] By the early fourteenth century, according to N.J.G. Pounds's recent study The Medieval Castle in England and Wales , at least half of the fifteen hundred castles built since the Conquest had been deserted.[4] Others were crumbling. Their importance diminished as the king's courts spread their influence and the costs of maintenance increased. Their military significance faded except on the borders, while the number of great


barons diminished until the peerage numbered no more than sixty or so families. Gunpowder made smaller castles useless.[5]

During the War of the Roses, castles had no military impact:

Strategically castles proved as insignificant as cities. The private castles of the nobility might never have existed for all the effect they had upon the wars. Of the royal castles, only Harlech, for reasons now obscure, withstood a long blockade. The rest of the Welsh castles, like Pembroke and Radnor, and the great northern castles, Alnwick, Bamborough, and Dunstanborough, which figure so prominently in the meager narratives of the 1460's, never held out more than a few weeks.[6]

Castles had been licensed by the crown, and the custom continued during the fifteenth century in the need to apply for permission to crenellate a dwelling. Thus the outward form of the castle became what Pounds terms an "empty symbol," but nevertheless the "object of ambition of every aspiring member of the upper classes."[7] By the time of Spenser and Shakespeare, a castle offered status to the newly ennobled, and its designs were perpetrated by academic and charitable institutions. Real fortresses were redesigned according to foreign styles, as when from 1538 to 1540 Henry VIII built coastal artillery forts along the Thames to Portsmouth.

The fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight illustrates the appearance and disappearance of the castle as a sign of status and good manners.[8] The fantastic and sudden presence of the Green Knight's castle of Hautdesert, just as Gawain prays for harbor, emphasizes its symbolic character, which David Aers identifies as the conflict between individual identity and social standards.[9] The seductive behavior of Bercilak's wife suggests at first that Hautdesert is designed to call into question the values of the Arthurian community, but the castle turns out to be a courtly mirror of chivalry, a school for refinement. The name of Bercilak's castle, Hautdesert (high reward?), indicates its function as part of a traditional chivalric Bildung , a story of personal moral


development. There is some irony in the poem's celebration of courtly culture. The pentangle Gawain wears represents his private devotion to the "sacralization of the court's values, practices, and language,"[10] but he never objects to the rules of the game played at the Green Knight's castle. Instead he blames himself for his failure to reveal the girdle he has received from Bercilak's wife. Although Gawain considers himself a moral failure, Bercilak and Arthur's court regard him as a hero and accord him the social status that the image of the castle came to represent.

Spenser's Faerie Queene maintains the old dichotomy of the castle, which could represent either justice or oppressive power. The poem recapitulates a long history of literary usage. It uses the word "castle" to refer to houses, palaces, temples, and towers. It draws on centuries of tradition in which the edifice represented vices and virtues; goodness, holiness, and honor; pleasure, felicity, and the soul. Castles are built of glass, on rock or sand, and there is even a parody of the Italian rocca (a castle or fortress), when Malengin lives literally in a "rock," or cave, instead of a more civilized structure (FQ 5.9.4). Spenser's castles may be figures of speech, as in the caste of health (FQ 1.9.31).[11] Or they can be emblematic, like the sign of Philip II, king of Castile: in a dedicatory sonnet to Lord Howard, Spenser refers to the Spanish Armada as "those huge castes of [the] Castilian king."[12] The castle can be a synecdoche for a larger war: Spenser represents the whole battle against the Spanish in the Low Countries by the siege of Antwerp (FQ 5.10.25-39), where Arthur imposes "new laws and orders new" (FQ 5.10.27). (In a similar way, the eleventh-century Roman d'Eneas turned the field camp of Aneas into a medieval castle, and the Trojan soldiers wage war as armed knights.)[13] Or the castle can project psychic states: C. S. Lewis referred to Spenser's houses and castles (the terms are interchangeable in The Faerie Queene ) as "prolonged states of inner weather."[14]

Spenser's castles also symbolize ideals or a vocation, thereby representing the inscrutable future. In Book IV, Artegall leads Britomart, Scudamor, and Glauce as all four search for Amoret (who has been snatched by Lust). He and Britomart have just recognized each other


for the first time, although Britomart has previously seen in Merlin's glass that Artegall will be her husband. Artegall guides her to "some resting place" where they can heal their wounds, enjoy "dayly feasting both in bowre and hall," and get to know each other (FQ 4.6.39). Artegall's edifice is not a lowly cottage like the House of Care (FQ 4.5.32), whose hammering blacksmiths reminded Coleridge of an opium nightmare.[15] It is well appointed; indeed, it is too pleasant to be in the middle of nowhere. It is there when needed, then gone. Within what Philip Sidney, using a proverbial phrase, called a "castle in the air,"[16] a daydream, Artegall lays siege to Britomart, "continuall siege unto her gentle hart" (FQ 4.6.40). The exercise is superfluous, since she is already in love and has been pursuing him since the beginning of Book III. But Artegall needs the absent edifice for a symbolic reason besides the love allegory of wooing. It provides a proper setting for Artegall's declaration of a "custome ancient" (FQ 4.6.44) according to which he must travel from there with no guide, leaving Britomart behind while he strives to bring justice to the world in Book V. The place appears out of nowhere, but this is its significance—only Artegall sees it at first.

The castle, in the eyes of Artegall, represents a vision of a just future, a sign of dominion where the horrors of the past on which it is founded are forgotten. This vision helps explain the imagery of Shakespeare's Richard II . Castles are mentioned more often in Richard II than anywhere else in Shakespeare. Successive scenes are set at Bristol Castle, where Richard's favorites, Bushy and Green, take refuge; at Berkeley Castle, which its lord surrenders in the company of York, who berates his nephew Bullingbroke for his treason before abandoning Richard to join with him; at "Barkloughly castle" (Harlech, in northern Wales), where Richard lands on his return from Ireland, salutes the earth, and learns the extent of his misfortunes; and finally at Flint Castle, where Richard goes to "pine away," realizing that he must soon yield up his crown, jewels, scepter, and "gorgeous palace" (a phrase from Philip Sidney's Defense of Poetry that Prospero will use in The Tempest ).[17] In each case we hear the word castle , although in later scenes in this well-


balanced drama the term is avoided. At the end of the play, Northumberland tells Richard that he "must to Pomfret," where he later is murdered, not to Pomfret "Castle," and Windsor Castle, where Bulling-broke pardons Aumerle, is not named.

The disappearance of the term reinforces the symbolic nature of castles in the world as the play's characters conceive it. Richard compares the king's two bodies to a castle. The castle wall is both "brass impregnable" where the king can "monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks," and also mere flesh, through which death can bore, piercing the "castle wall, and farewell king!" (Richard II 3.2.165, 170). Bullingbroke compares Richard's ruin to the "tottered battlements" of Flint Castle (Richard II 3.3.52), and Richard rings changes on the humiliation of the lower courtyard or "base court" to which he must descend: "Down court! down king!" (Richard II 3.3.182).[18] If Richard foresees his loss of kingship at Flint Castle, his descent and the disappearance of the word from the play also comment on the historical transition of the castle from a military outpost—that place of both justice and oppression—to a sign of status. Having lost his castle literally, Richard loses it figuratively as well.

Earlier in the play, Richard's opponent Bullingbroke makes his first appearance in England after his banishment while traveling through the Gloucestershire countryside, looking for Berkeley Castle. "How far is it, my lord, to Berkeley now?" he asks Northumberland, who is himself lost and weary, when up rides Northumberland's son, Harry Percy, the Hotspur of 1 Henry IV , whose sole appearance in Richard II occurs in this scene (Richard II 2.3.1). Hotspur has been sent by his uncle Worcester to scout the forces at Berkeley. He has learned that the Lords of York, Seymour, and Berkeley occupy the castle as they await King Richard's return from Ireland. The symbolism of the scene, as Hotspur meets his father and Bullingbroke, turns on what they can and cannot recognize. Hotspur knows where Berkeley Castle is, but he does not recognize Bullingbroke. Chastised by his father, he excuses himself for omitting the proper courtesy to the future Henry IV, saying, "I never in my life


did look on him" (Richard II 2.3.38). But that is a poor excuse for not recognizing a king. It reduces Bullingbroke to the level of the helpless dauphin, who thinks he can hide his majesty from Joan of Arc (1 Henry VI 1.2.65). Symbolically, Bullingbroke has not the aura of royal power to induce recognition in Hotspur. Hotspur can, however, see Berkeley Castle. And he can see it from where he stands, while his father and Bullingbroke cannot. Northumberland echoes Bullingbroke's opening line, "How far is it to Berkeley?" and Percy, who stands just where they do, points it out: "There stands the castle, by yon tuft of trees" (Richard II 2.3.51, 53).

Hotspur's perception is more than just that of someone who has been scouting the local countryside. He views the world as a gallant fighter who lives for glory. In the next play, he will spin the tale of Mortimer's unreal, single combat with Glendower on "Severn's sedgy bank" (1 Henry IV 1.3.98). He will seek bright honor horse to horse with Prince Hal. Hotspur can see Berkeley Castle because he lives by those values of chivalry and honor and combat that literary castles once represented.

Any castle can be polarized between good and evil, a home to some, a source of repression to others. Hotspur's perception makes the castle a romantic image to which his father and Bullingbroke, a couple of opportunists in these plays, are blind. They cannot see the ideal image of chivalry, even though it is just beyond "yon tuft of trees." When they look for a castle, they are looking for a fortress. For them the castle represents the dreary, oppressive necessity of power.

Just as Artegall and Hotspur literally see castles where others do not, Prince Hal is also able to separate the contradictory qualities of oppression and justice symbolized by the medieval castle and also, I would argue, by the character who first appeared in Shakespeare's play as Sir John Oldcastle. (Shakespeare changed the name when descendants of the real John Oldcastle complained about the unseemly depiction of an ancestor who was regarded as a religious martyr, not a figure of fun.)[19] The name change buried an important line of imagery that reinforces the theme of transition from the old ways to the new in these history


plays, for Prince Hal finds qualities in Falstaff that escape his father the king.

We glimpse a rift in the old world of chivalry, for example, when Hal associates castles (and Falstaff) with inns. In 1 Henry IV , Hal parodies Falstaff's reference to mine "hostess of the tavern" by referring to his boon companion as the "old lad of the castle." But in 2 Henry IV , where the prince and Falstaff carouse at the Old Boar Inn in Eastcheap, Hal refers to Falstaff as "the old boar" (2 Henry IV 2.2.146). Falstaff represents—for Hal as a character within the plays—not only the old castle where good and bad customs obtain but also the old and eventually discredited ways of the past. When he becomes king, Hal gives up the alehouse and sheds Falstaff from his presence. The king who names his most famous victory after the "castle" of Agincourt marks the perception and recognition of loss that occurs when new social modes replace old ways.

Shakespeare's Henry VI plays (written earlier in Shakespeare's career) continue the devaluation of the sign of the castle. Henry V is no sooner dead in the first scene of 1 Henry VI than the scene shifts to France for an early demonstration of how gunpowder made castle architecture obsolete. A French sharpshooter kills Salisbury as the English stand on a turret's top, looking down into Orleans. Outmoded by new weapons and specialized fortresses, the castle no longer represents a threat.

Although written earlier than Henry V , the Henry VI plays represent a later era, when chivalry was further in decline. In what was probably the third scene Shakespeare wrote, he uses the Tower of London as an image for polarizing the sides of a religious dispute. Cardinal Winchester's men have locked out Gloucester, the lord protector, who represents the crown. Ethical lines are clearly drawn, for Gloucester's character coincides with John Foxe's estimate of him as "the good Duke" and "a supporter of the poor commons."[20] The evil cardinal maintains the inside of the tower, just as the "custom of the castle" places the Other inside a castle, which a knight errant seeks to enter. Here, as in the origins of the Weeping Castle founded by Dialetes, religious difference underlies the


confrontation between chivalry and foul ways. Like Foxe's Book of Martyrs , Shakespeare's plays typically project the Protestant Reformation back into history. His King John, for example, brazenly and anachronistically defies the pope and employs Falconbridge to expropriate church property.

Although Winchester meets Gloucester outside the walls, where the mayor of London intervenes to separate the two adversaries, what Gloucester says to Winchester two acts later shows that the Tower represents more than a young playwright's haphazard choice of location. The word "castle" occurs in a figure of speech that in combination with the scene at the Tower shows the sediment of the old romance image. Gloucester confronts Winchester in Parliament and accuses him of plotting against him, "In that thou laidst a trap to take my life, / As well at London Bridge as at the Tower" (1 Henry VI 3.1.22-23). Winchester angrily answers, "And am I not a prelate of the Church?" as if to say that the accusation is absurd. But Gloucester's retort has the ring of truth in the way it implicates Winchester in a tradition of nobles whose private fortresses protected foul customs. The "use" Gloucester complains of is mere theft:

Yes, as an outlaw in a  castle keeps
And useth  it to patronage his theft.
(1 Henry VI  3.1.147-148; my emphasis)

But Gloucester's role as prototype of English xenophobic Protestantism charges his lines with the fundamental antagonism of religious difference.

The Henry VI plays empty knights errant and castles of their heroic status. York calls Talbot a "noble chevalier" (1 Henry VI 4.3.14), and Somerset calls his attack on Bordeaux a "wild adventure" (1 Henry VI 4.4.7): these phrases use the language of chivalry.[21] Yet even though Talbot praises old Bedford as one who once "couched lance" (1 Henry VI 3.3.134), that medieval military tactic seems to vanish before our eyes, because it never occurs in the history plays. Similarly the English no longer trust themselves to castles.[22]


Castles nonetheless retain a symbolic function. At the beginning of 2 Henry, VI , a spirit conjured up at the urging of Eleanor, the duchess of Gloucester, warns that Somerset, a Lancastrian, should "shun castles" (2 Henry VI 1.4.35). The prophecy proves ambiguous, as the castle turns out to be no fortress but an inn.[23] Richard of York observes Somerset's place of death after he kills him and solves the riddle of the prophecy:

For underneath an alehouse' paltry sign,
The Castle in Saint Albans, Somerset
Hath made the wizard famous in his death.
        (2  Henry VI  5.2.67-69)

Somerset's death at an alehouse suggests that as long as there is genuine contest for values, there is a need for a symbolic site of social confrontation. C. S. Lewis somewhere remarks on the disappointment of the early explorers, who found few wealthy cities waiting in the New World. What was the use of traveling if not to reach, like Ulysses, exciting civilizations?[24] The only castles Columbus saw in the New World were those that sailed from Europe and anchored off the flat beaches. Both the bow and the stern of Spanish ships were referred to as a "castle": the sterncastle (castillo de popa , where Columbus stood when land was first sighted in 1492) and the forecastle (castillo de proa ).[25]

Later conquistadors, however, found masonry structures in mainland America. So powerful was the custom of the castle as a way of thinking about social confrontation that the fantasy of the Spaniards provided castles for the Indians in America. Then they made them disappear.

The Mayan civilization was in decline when Cortés sailed before the walls of Tulum in the Yucatan in 1519. With watchtowers and a superstructure resembling a castle—although recent research has shown the temple towering over the Caribbean Sea to be astronomically aligned, much like Stonehenge or Ireland's Newgrange—the edifice must have seemed reassuringly familiar. The result is inscrutable, like the fate of Castle Cruel. The explorers then proceeded west. In a passage that is often cited to show how romances colored the perceptions of the Span-


ish conquistadors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo describes his first vision of Mexico City:

We were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments they tell of in the legend of Amadis, on account of the great towers and cues[26] and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream.[27]

Michael Murrin compares this vision to the dream of empire represented by Spenser's fairyland—politically, those realms controlled by the Habsburgs, who were interlopers, according to Spenser's myth, on lands previously visited by English heroes.[28] Stephen Greenblatt identifies a crisis of representation, the impossibility of describing the absolutely other. The Spanish are excluded, but by destroying the city, they make it real and therefore subject to possession. First they identify themselves with the Aztecs; then comes the terrible moment when they begin to regard the Indians as totally alien and other.[29] Both critics read the passage as wish fulfillment, which they associate with romances.[30] But the reference to Amadis and its enchantments has a slightly different function in this passage by Díaz.

The purpose of the passage is to conjure a vision of a castle in order to make it disappear. "Of all these wonders that I then beheld," Díaz writes in his account later in the century, "today all is overthrown and lost, nothing left standing."[31] How could such a center of power be overthrown?

The passage answers us in the language of romances. Following the expected topos, the Spaniards observe and scorn the local customs. They wander among the flowers and fruit trees, palaces and gardens, temples and idols, zoos, aviaries, slave markets, and scenes of human sacrifice—foul customs in abundance. The Spaniards are greeted, escorted into town, lodged and dined, the usual ritual of hospitality. Because the Aztecs keep the Spaniards at arm's length culturally, they do not imprison them or ask them to do anything. To the contrary, the


Spaniards even "placed their artillery in a convenient direction," as if Montezuma completely disregarded it. Montezuma, it seems, plays the role of an unwilling keeper of foul customs. He provides what the Spaniards need to eat and feed their horses "according to [their] own use and custom."[32] A contest of courtesy, and Montezuma's undoing! For Cortés takes Montezuma prisoner, plays off the fictions created by the power of the Aztecs and their customs of human sacrifice, staves off a rival Spanish offensive, survives a native siege of his headquarters, then manages to withdraw with his treasure. The old romance image becomes the new historical truth.

The custom of the castle topos ended when chivalric romances no longer persuaded audiences that their fictions, even when playful, represented such serious issues. Although a flexible mode of thinking about tradition and social convention was lost, castles continued to appear in Gothic fiction as images of domestic ideology.[33] Novels like Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1764) and those of later writers like Anne Radcliffe or Jane Austen or Emily Brontë begin with the premise that a castle, or its later variant the country house, represents a social space of confinement or oppression as well as good manners.

In the early modern era, a refinement of manners accompanies the growth of manors—from the French châteaux to the great English country houses. The pun is well established by 1603 when Anne, the fallen wife of Thomas Heywood's play A Woman Killed with Kindness , is carted off to the country by Jenkin, who quips, "A man cannot say by my old master Frankford as he may say by me, that he wants manors; for he hath three or four."[34] As castles give way to rural estates, new images arise for the containment of social behavior. The literary depiction of social intercourse shifts from violence to domestic etiquette. Social justice dwindles into social sentiment. Morality becomes less a series of prohibitions than prescriptions for correctness.[35] The novel, the new narrative mode, found new ways to represent the strains of civil society.



In Shakespeare's plays, no castellan demands that a visiting knight joust or sleep outside, yet a suitor like Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice or a powerless king like Lear must conform to the custom of the castle, so to speak—choosing the right casket, obeying wicked daughters—if he is to enter society.

The social relations put before us in King Lear —Lear's lack of a male heir; the Cinderella situation of Cordelia unjustly exiled by her father's petulance and her sisters' greed and jealousy—illustrate how a system where customs rule can justify injustice. "Thou, Nature, art my goddess," cries the illegitimate Edmund, "to thy law / My services are bound. Wherefore should I / Stand in the plague of custom?" (Lear 1.2.1). AS John Danby has noted, Edmund's position that customs can be unnatural and unreasonable (based on the idea that men's reason has been clouded by the Fall) is also that of so orthodox a thinker as Richard Hooker: "I deny not but lewd and wicked customs, beginning perhaps at the first among few, afterwards spreading into great multitudes, and so continuing from time to time, may be of force in plain things to smother the light of natural understanding."[1]

Piercing to the moral roots of custom (not the deeds, but the status of the agent), the questioning of fight and wrong in King Lear lies not in particular situations, as if it mattered whether this beadle is more guilty than that whore, or whether Lear was fight or wrong to seek a peaceful retirement. Instead, much of the power of King Lear derives from the extended defenses of their actions by those whom we believe evil—those like Regan and Goneril and Oswald and Ed-


mund and Cornwall and Lear in his dotage and Gloucester in his anger. We listen to their motives and mitigate their evil, or the play has no depth. Even Regan and Goneril justify themselves insofar as they must endure a whimsical, overbearing patriarch who favors their younger sister. Lear's daughters find excuses for locking their father out of Gloucester's castle, and Edmund, who rails against the "plague of custom" that deprives him of a birthright, takes over his father's castle, expelling his brother Edgar and allowing Regan and Cornwall to lock out Lear. We must acknowledge Lear's petulant wishes too, for there is no tragedy if he is genuinely foolish.

In the denouement, Edgar returns as an unnamed knight, as if from a chivalric romance, but too late to save Cordelia from another "castle" (Lear 5.3.246), which appears in symbolic fashion as a suitable site for death of a young lady who could not conform to the customs of courtesy but remained silent when asked to speak. R. A. Foakes writes of King Lear that "no ghosts haunt the play, no voices of the past."[2] But this lack of memory depends on the illusion Shakespeare creates, by setting the play in the deep past, that the social world of Lear is long established. When Edgar declares that those alive will never see so much, nor live so long, as the previous generation, he may well be hoping, against reason and experience, that foul customs will not again creep in.



Othello's situation resembles that of Bradamante at the Tower of Tristan or, in the scene derived from Ariosto, Britomart at the beginning of the Book of Friendship. All three experience the subtle rules of a binding social order. Seeking not to smash but to outwit local custom, the female warriors manipulate time by the way they alternatively assume the rights of women or strong war-riots as they win jousts and beauty contests. Similarly, we first see Othello, another outsider, manipulating time.

For example, Othello postpones Brabantio's objections to his marriage with the excuse that the duke needs him for affairs of state. But Othello's unnatural, unreasonable passion foils his attempt to master customs, despite his control of time. The "castle" (Othello 2.1.201) to which Othello brings Desdemona in Cyprus, and where eventually he kills her, belongs to a world of ways to which Othello falls victim.

Iago's snares consist of social conventions, as when he exploits Cassio's exchanges of courtesies with Emilia and Desdemona on their arrival in Cyprus or when he uses the "custom" of drinking to expose Cassio to Othello's suspicion (Othello 2.3.35).[1] Although Othello declares to the rulers of Venice that the "tyrant custom" can habituate him to harsh physical conditions, he mentally refuses to "make a life of jealousy" when Iago infects his thoughts (Othello 1.3.220; 3.3.176). (He can habituate his body but not his mind.) Othello's downfall begins when he returns from "walking on the works" of Cyprus (Othello 3.2.3). When he reenters the castle, Iago captures him in his web of suspicion by using what Othello calls "tricks of custom" (Othello 3.3.122).


Iago's tricks of custom, of course, are more extensive than those hesitations of speech that a dishonest man might counterfeit but which in an honest man are "close dilations, working from the heart" (Othello 3.3.123). They include the meaning of Desdemona's handkerchief, which, Lynda Boose writes, "may well lie hidden in rituals and customs."[2] Boose identifies the handkerchief with Desdemona's stained wedding sheets, and more recent critics have continued to regard it, if not so literally, as a symbol of female power, which waxes and wanes. The handkerchief that passed from a female sibyl to a female "charmer" to Othello's mother to Desdemona at first represents the ability of women to subdue the wandering eros of men. Othello says his mother was told that if she lost it, his father's "spirits should hunt / After new fancies" (Othello 3.4.62-63). Carol Neely Thomas argues that Othello later reinterprets the handkerchief, reversing its meaning, when he says it is an "antique token / My father gave my mother" (Othello 5.2.216-217): it becomes "his love token—a pledge of his love and possession of Desdemona and of her sexual fidelity."[3] She rightly chastises earlier critics who failed to note that Othello changed stories. But what matters most is not the new sexual symbolism of the handkerchief but Othello's narrative shift. The woven handkerchief represents woven fictions, as Othello, the victim (but perhaps student) of what Greenblatt calls "Iago's constant recourse to narrative,"[4] reveals his own ability to tell a tale: in this case, a ghost story.

It may be that Othello believes in the power of the handkerchief to control passion, in which case he illustrates his own ghost fear. He may or may not expect Desdemona to believe it. In any case, the handkerchief represents Othello's ancestral past, male or female, and Othello tells its tale of origins to frighten Desdemona. By seeking to instill or arouse ghost fear in the girl who begins the play by defying her father, Othello now maintains one of the customs—that set of male-oriented, socially determined practices such as bureaucratic promotion, mockery of social others, jealous possession of females—of what Marguerite Waller has called "the club" to which Iago and now, tragically, Othello belong.[5] Othello's search for acceptance dramatically illustrates that moment of the custom of the castle topos where the powerful warrior finds himself or herself upholding the foul ways of systems he or she opposes, or would oppose if not morally bewildered.



Chapter One Introduction

1. "Of custom, and not easily changing an accepted law," in The Complete Essays of Montaigne , trans. Donald M. Frame (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958), 79, 83.

2. I have taken the last phrase from The Essays of Montaigne , trans. John Florio, 3 vols. (New York: AMS Press, 1967), 1:112. The French text is Les Essais de Michel de Montaigne (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1965), 115.

3. Plato, "Gorgias," trans. W. D. Woodhead, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato , ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, Bollingen Series LXXI (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 266-267.

4. See Jean Daniélou, Sacramentum Futuri: Études sur les origines de la typologie biblique (Paris: Beauchesne, 1950), 115.

5. Readers trained in Chartrian poetics—the Platonic notion that life is an intellectual pilgrimage of the soul—were accustomed to seek hidden truth. See Donald Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 63. A prominent example of moral bewilderment based on this notion occurs in the vulgate Quest of the Holy Grail when Gawain encounters the evil customs of the Castle of Maidens. Here the narrative resolution takes the form of an explanation by a hermit that the seven brothers who maintain the foul custom represent the seven deadly sins, the castle represents hell, and the maidens are to be understood as "the souls of the just that were undeservedly imprisoned there before the passion of Jesus Christ" ( Grail 79). The problem of knowing how to behave ill an earthly as opposed to a spiritual context, the great theme of the Grail story, emerges from the clash between Gawain's martial values, which lead him to defeat the seven knights, and the surprising explanation of the hermit, based on an opposing, spiritual set of values, that by killing the seven brothers Gawain prevented them from doing penance for their wicked custom.

6. The Beaurepaire episode begins at line 1699. The later prose Lancelot also makes marriage a means to real estate. In that story, the custom of the castle of Estroite Marche ("la droiture del chastel et encontre les coustumes," L 8:277) derives from the will of the local people, who have told their lord that he has waited too long to marry off his daughter. They decree that no knight may spend the night at the castle unless he jousts the next day and swears always to be the enemy of anyone who attacks Estroite Marche. Hector therefore must fight Marcanors, who works for the King of the Hundred Knights and every day arrives at the castle's bridge to joust. As a representative of King Arthur's royal power, which reaches into and stabilizes the countryside, Hector satisfied the "borgois de ceste vile" ( L 8:279) by defeating Marcanors and arranging a marriage for the lord's daughter. Compare the cyclic version in Lancelot ("Que jamais chevalier n'entrast en cest castel qu'il ne jeust une nuit en ma maison et demorast l'endemain jusc'a miedi en l'aide de la vile," L 8:280) to the noncyclic version in Lancelot do Lac ("Et il me distrent que ja mais chevaliers n'antrast an cest chastel qui ne geüst une nuit an [ma] maison[et] qui ne d[em]orast l'andemain anjusque au midi an l'aide de la vile. Et lo jor qu'il s'an devroit aler, ainz qu'il aüst les armes, li covanroit jurer sor sainz que a tozjorz seroit nuisanz et annemis a toz ces qui guerroieroient lo Chastel de l'Estroite Voie—issi a non li chastiaus,'' L2 447).

A similar situation occurs in Yvain , where a woman maintains the Custom of the Boiling Spring to select a husband and lord for her estate. Because Yvain has won her he must decline the hand of the lord's daughter at the Castle of Most Ill Adventure.

7. Michael Murrin, The Veil of Allegory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 115-116. Donald Maddox points out that Chrétien's "preoccupation" with customs "precedes and anticipates the development of customals" such as the Summa de legibus Normanniae (1235-38) or the Coutumes de Beauvaisis of 1283 ( The Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991], 139 and 165). In his study of Chrétien's romances, Maddox treats many scenes and issues (contracts, community, methods of adjudication, rituals) that the present study can only suggest. He concludes that "the Arthurian romance unveils a world ill regulated by its customs, chronically prone to crisis, and repeatedly destabilized in the absence of effective upholders of its institutions" ( The Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes , 119).

8. Roger Sherman Loomis traces the bastons cornus (horned staves) of the two champions to the Coutumier de Normandie (1194-1223), the Assises de Jérusalem , the Coutumier d'Amiens , and another thirteenth-century "Norman-French compilation which goes under the name of Britton," concluding that their equipment is based on "the judicial practices of Christendom from Acre to England" but that "it would have been contrary to custom for two champions to fight on one side." To this he adds, seriously, "nor would the intervention of the lion have been tolerated." See Arthurian Tradition and Chrétien de Troyes (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949), 323-325.

9. Arthur is torn between his need to uphold the Custom of the White Stag, which he inherited from his father, and his realization that dissension will rend his court if he must choose the most beautiful woman to kiss as the custom requires.

Arthur's custom exemplifies the first of three kinds of customs that Erich Köhler identifies in Chrétien's romances, since it is both the basis of his rule and a constraint on it. From a political and sociological point of view, Arthur provides an outlet for the idle and dangerous energies of his knights. As a figure of central authority, the king has as much obligation to provide adventures as he does to give gifts to maintain the social order. The second type of custom in Chrétien's romances occurs where someone has misappropriated a custom for strictly personal benefit, creating a dissonance between the interests of the indi-

vidual and those of the community as represented by an Arthurian knight. This type describes the "custom" of defending a fountain that begins Erec and Enide , where the device allows a widow with property to be integrated with the main social group. A third type of custom usually takes place at what Maddox calls a "remote locus," where a villain has arbitrarily instituted a foul custom which the hero undoes in some great terminal adventure, as in the "Joy of the Court," where Erec reestablishes order and harmony by excelling at battle and thereby earning the right to abolish a custom which no one could modify because it is based on the absolute imperative of the single combat. See Köhler, "Le rô1e de la 'coutume' dans les romans de Chrétiens de Troyes," Romania 81 (1960): 386-397, and Maddox, The Arthurian Romances , 35ff.

10. Maddox, The Arthurian Romances , 8.

11. Arthur Ferguson, Clio Unbound: Perception of the Social and Cultural Past in Renaissance England (Durham: Duke University Press, 1979), 229.

12. The award is regulated by the composition made between the prior "and the bailiffs and the commonality of the said city of old time" ( English Historical Documents: 1327-1485 , ed. A. R. Meyers [New York: Oxford University Press, 1969], 565).

13. According to Marc Bloch, customs could be a source both of continuity and of constraint because there could be bad customs : "In fact, the legal documents quite frequently use these words, but almost invariably they are applied to rules actually or supposedly of recent origin—'those detestable innovations,' 'those unheard-of exactions,' denounced by so many monastic texts. A custom, in other words, might seem especially to deserve condemnation when it was too new. Whether it was a question of Church reform or of a lawsuit between two neighbouring lords, the prestige of the past could scarcely be contested save by setting against it a past more venerable still" ( Feudal Society [1940; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961], 88).

14. "Sanz faille cele costume que li jaianz i establi i fu puis trop longuement tenue" ( T 456.30).

15. "A savez vos por quoi je ai ensi establie ceste costume? Por ce que je veil que vox avez des ores mesa seignor le meillor chevalier que aventure aportera ceste part, et que vos aiez a dame la plus bele que aventure vox i envoiera" ( T 456.51).

16. Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), 113.

17. J. G. A. Pocock makes this point in The Machiavellian Moment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), 159.

18. The English translation is that found in Sir Thomas More, Utopia , trans. and ed. Robert M. Adams (New York: Norton, 1975), 10. For the Latin text, see The Complete Works of St. Thomas More (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), IV: 58-59 ("haec nostris, inquiunt, placuere maioribus, quorum prudentiam utinam nos aequaremus").

19. Thomas Wilson, The Rule of Reason Conteinying the atone of Logique , ed. Richard Sprague (Northridge, Calif.: San Fernando Valley State College, 1972), 199.

20. "Hoc veritatis fundamentum, non consuetudinis abusum sequor" (Peter Ramus, Arguments in Rhetoric Against Quintilian [1549], trans. Carole Newlands [DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1986], 99 and 179, including the Latin text).

21. Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), 237.

22. See The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643) and the note on custom in Merritt Hughes, ed., John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose (New York: Odyssey, 1957), 696-697.

23. Thomas Wilson reproaches Catholicism for promoting worship "not in spirite, but in Copes, in Candlesticks, in Belles, in Tapers, and in Censers, in Crosses, and many good morowes else," in The Arte of Rhetorique (1553), fol. 19, or the edition of G. H. Mair (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), 33. Russell H. Wagner rules that because Wilson did not revise his text, citations should be to the 1553 edition, not to the 1560 reprint by Mair ("The Text and Editions of Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique," MLN 44 [1929]: 421 - 428). The difference is slight.

24. Cicero remarks, "Consuetudine autem ius esse putatur id quod voluntate omnium sine lege vetustas comprobarit" ("Custom law is thought to be that which lapse of time has approved by the common consent of all without the sanction of statute," De Inventione , The Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960], 2.22.67).

25. Wilson, The Arte of Rhetorique , fol. 19; Mair's edition, 33. I have slightly modernized the spelling.

26. J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law , 36, presumably citing Sir Edward Coke.

27. Alan Harding, A Social History of English Law (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1973), 217.

28. See William C. Dowling, Jameson, Althusser, Marx: An Introduction to "The Political Unconscious " (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), 129. I am greatedly indebted to Bill Dowling, in person and in prose, for helping me shape this introduction.

29. Bacon defines the idols in Novum Organum , the second book of his Great Instauration . See The Works of Francis Bacon , 3 vols. (Philadelphia: M. Murphy, 1876), 1:45-47 (essay) and 3:347-353 (idol of the theater).

30. Pascal, Pensées , 274.

31. For Samuel Daniel's Defense of Rime (1603), see Hyder E. Rollins and Herschel Baker, The Renaissance in England (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Company, 1954), 657. Daniel published his Defense to promote the Gothic "neochivalric mode that had dominated Elizabethan court pageantry from the late 1570s on" as the proper "custom" of England to contrast the imperial "Roman manner" of the new monarch, King James, whom he regarded as a royal intruder from Scotland. See Richard Helgerson, "Barbarous Tongues: The Ideology of Poetic Form in Renaissance England," in The Historical Renaissance , ed. Heather Dubrow and Richard Strier (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

32. Wesley Trimpi, Muses of One Mind (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983), 343 n.

33. Aristotle, Poetics , trans. Gerald E Else (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1970), 48 (1455 b 1-15).

34. Trimpi, Muses , 308.

35. Ibid., 343.

36. I have not been concerned in this study with the castle of knowledge or perseverance or the castle as an image of the soul or the besieged female body—each a well-known topic of Renaissance scholarship. I have sought, instead, a process of social adjustment that is often disconcerting, imprecise, and uncertain. The practical and social nature of the custom of the castle distinguishes it from (although it has its roots in) the theme of private hospitality and that court hospitality that surrounds a festival, studied by Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner in Narrative Invention in Twelfth-Century French Romance: The Convention of Hospitality (1160-1200) (Lexington: French Forum, 1980). For a different but related analysis, see Roberta Douglas Cornelius, The Figurative Castle: A Study in the Medieval Allegory, of the Edifice with Especial Reference to Religious Writings (Bryn Mawr, Penn.: n.p., 1930); G. R. Kernodle, From Art to Theater (Chicago: Uni-

versity of Chicago Press, 1944); Don E. Wayne, Penshurst: The Semiotics of Place and the Poetics of History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984); and Thomas M. Greene, Besieging the Castle of Ladies , Occasional Papers, no. 4 (Binghamton, N.Y.: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1995). Prof. Greene's seminar on Ritual and Ceremony, held at the Newberry Library in 1988, encouraged me to pursue the topic of this book.

Chapter Two Malory's Weeping Castle

1. "Li tost le non de pucele" (448.13). I cite the prose Tristan from the edition of Renée Curtis, giving paragraph and line numbers. For this study her text is a reasonable approximation of what Malory had before him, although work in progress by Michael Salda promises new light on Malory's sources. When referring to the French source, I use the spelling Tristan and Iseult and Galehaut; for Malory, I use Tristram and Isode and Galahalt. Translations from the prose Tristan are my own, except where they appear in Curtis's Romance of Tristan , an abridgement of the prose Tristan . For details, see the Bibliographical Note.

2. I have taken the translation of this passage from The Romance of Tristan , trans. Renée Curtis, Oxford World's Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 88-89.

3. "Two enchanters, two ghosts, two ferlies are always half as impressive as one" (C. S. Lewis, "The English Prose Morte, " in Essays on Malory [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963], 7-28, 12).

4. On my use of Vinaver's second edition, see the review article by Michael Salda, Chaucer Yearbook 1 (1992): 264-271, which authorizes retention of the 1973 text despite new editions. I generally have modernized Malory's language in the interests of readability, basing my text on Le Morte D'Arthur , ed. Janet Cowen, 2 vols. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), which I have silently emended in many places. Some citations are from Vinaver's edition.

5. Emmanuèle Baumgartner, Le "Tristan en prose " (Geneva: Droz, 1975), 169.

6. J. R. Lander reveals that "taxation returns made in 1436 list 51 lay peers, 183 greater knights, 750 lesser knights, 1200 esquires, 1600 men with incomes of £10 to £19 a year from land and 3400 between £5 and £9 that is on the fringe between yeomen and gentlemen" ( Conflict and Stability in Fifteenth-Century England [London: Hutchinson University Library, 1969], 173).

7. English Historical Documents: 1327-1485 , 410.

8. Sir John Fortescue, A Learned Commendation of the Politique Laws of England , trans. Robert Mulcaster (1573), 26. I have modernized the spelling of the translation by Spenser's teacher. This edition includes the Latin text.

9. The following discussion is based on Fritz Kern's classic study, Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages (1914; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1968), 149-180.

10. Kern, Kingship , 179.

11. These borough customs—perpetual succession, legal power to hold lands—often "secured by the terms of a written document," were closely entangled with merchant law. See Mary Bateson, Borough Customs , Selden Society, vol. 18 (London: Bernard Guaritch, 1904), xiv. The rights of towns particularly characterized Irish affairs: the Dublin customal was copied by Waterford (Bate-son, Borough Customs , xxiv). The ruling class of the towns had often purchased its privileges, and were at odds with growing craft guilds. See English Historical Documents: 1327-1485 , 391. Thomas More edited the customal of the Cinque Ports (Bateson, Borough Customs , xxii).

12. F. W. Maitland comments, "We ought to carry our thoughts back to a time when England was full of private prisons—the prisons of lords who claimed jurisdiction by royal grant or by prescription. At the suit of the imprisoned subject the king would send his writ to the keeper of the gaol, bidding him have the body of that subject before the king's court, to undergo and receive what that court should award" ( The Constitutional History of England [Cambridge: At the University Press, 1948], 271).

13. Beverly Kennedy, Knighthood in the Morte Darthur , Arthurian Studies XI (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1985), 159-160.

14. Elizabeth Pochoda, Arthurian Propaganda (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971), especially chapter 2.

15. A useful introduction on these matters is Alan Harding's A Social History of English Law .

16. Edward IV's years of rule (1461-1470, 1471-1483) coincided with Malory's composition of the Morte Darthur : Malory presumably worked during the 1460s; William Caxton printed the manuscript in 1485.

17. Lander, Conflict and Stability in Fifteenth-Century England , 102.

18. Bloch, Feudal Society , 113.

19. Ibid.

20. See, for example, Malory's Originality , ed. R. M. Lumiansky (Baltimore:

The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1964). Other critics and a bibliography can be found in Aspects of Malory , ed. Toshiyuki Takamiya and Derek Brewer, Arthurian Studies I (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1981) and Studies in Malory , ed. James W. Spisak (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1985).

21. The motif can also be at Dolorous Guard, one of the most important sources of the Weeping Castle, which Lancelot disenchants to prove himself worthy of Guenevere. In the prose Lancelot , the confusion of tasks at Dolorous Guard corresponds to Lancelot's unsureness in the ways of love. The young hero learns his name and lineage after he disenchants the castle and overcomes one of the many customs that replay Chrétien's cart episode and the custom of Gorre, which traps Arthur's subjects who enter the foreign realm in Chrétien's Chevalier de la charrete . The point of Dolorous Guard seems to be that Lancelot's royal birth and prowess qualify him for the love of the queen that he has felt from the time she knighted him.

This type of love allegory based on enigmatic, almost elliptical analogy shadows the custom of the castle topos from Chrétien to Spenser. When the author of the first part of the prose Tristan , who identifies himself as Luce of the Castle of Gail (or Gat) near Salisbury, proposed to integrate Tristan into the world of the Round Table, he drew on the Arthurian convention of the custom of the castle to create a dense network of personal relations, themes, duplications, enigmas, analogies, and etiologies. The author of the prose Tristan learned to concentrate themes—love, friendship, cultural otherness—in a single, symbolic episode, using duplication and analogy to create a mise-en-abîme after the lovers first make love on board ship. Later, after his marriage to Iseult of the White Hands, Tristan encounters another land of confinement. He drifts, asleep, with the second Iseult and her brother Kahedin in a small boat to the Servage, a land of harsh ways controlled by Nabon le Noire. Later still, when Tristan exchanges his excessive devotion to Iseult for life among Arthur's adventurers, he and his companion Dynadans face a foul custom that requires that they joust to establish their right to hospitality. In stark contrast to his earlier confinements, the errant knight, now less encumbered by the curse of his passion for Iseult, resolves the issue simply by walking away from the castle, unconfined by its "custom" ( T2 2:124ff.; cf. MD 9.23: one of the epigraphs of this book). If there is an uncertain correspondence in details, nonetheless the stories reveal a general pattern wherein key Arthurian characters face evil customs whenever the lovers' fortune changes.

22. Larry Benson, Malory's " Morte Darthur " (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976), 70. Benson also analyzes Gareth's struggle against the Red Knight, which may be compared to Chrétien's "Joi de la cort" episode at the end of Erec et Enide ( Malory's " Morte Darthur ," 93, citing Vinaver, Works of Sir Thomas Malory , 1428). Benson finds a Bildungsroman pattern: "Malory introduces the proof-of-knighthood theme, which requires, after a preliminary bat-de (here the whole Red Knight adventure), success in a tournament, then a quest in which an evil custom is abolished (and usually prisoners are freed and some enemy of Arthur's is punished), and finally the jousting of the hero, unrecognized, with some of Arthur's knights" ( Malory's "Morte Darthur,'' 105). But we need to look at the episode from the perspective of the Red Knight, who keeps the custom thirty winters, not just Gareth, who undoes it.

23. John Ladd, "Custom," in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967).

24. Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), 193.

25. John Ladd, The Structure of a Moral Code: A Philosophical Analysis of Ethical Discourse Applied to the Ethics of the Navaho Indians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), 256.

26. Ibid., 257.

27. Ibid., 269.

28. Caxton substituted "destroy" for Malory's "distress," making it seem as if Tristram already knows that he must fight Sir Breunor to the death. Malory's original word suggests that Tristram is only reacting to his imprisonment. Either way, Tristram expects to find good customs at a caste.

29. Paul Zumthor invented the term mouvance to describe the practice that followed from the presumption that the text was subject to critical review and clarification, to new intentions and a new audience. "Scribal adaptation is a fact of medieval writing," and nowhere more so than in the vast compilation known as the prose Tristan , the most important—because the most direct—source of the convention for Malory and later writers. See Donald Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance , 146.

Scholars date the prose Tristan from 1225-1230, but its mouvance carries it along from at least another century. We read the work as unsure of its provenance as Malory and Spenser were when they encountered it. Perhaps it suffices that, like Malory, we know the story was written in French during the Middle

Ages and that it refers to other French stories, particularly the prose Lancelot .

The Lancelot is itself of uncertain origin, but it served as a source for scenarios involving customs and castles, including the "male costume" of Morgan's Val Sans Retour ( L 1:277), Lancelot's disenchantment of the "malvaises coustumes" of Dolorouse Garde ( L 7:312), Dolorouse Chartre (where Gawain is lured by a vavasor of Brandon des Isles, who controls Dolorouse Garde, L 7:353), and at least four castles which involve problems of women: two adventures of Gawain's cousin Galescalain, the duke of Clarence, first against the "doleroses costumes" at Pintaduel ( L 1:228) and second, his attempt to enter Escalon le Tenebros, where darkness has descended following the rape of a woman in a monastery ( L 1:232). At Estroite Marche, Hector fights Marganorre (the name Ariosto used) and the people legislate the custom of drafting strangers because the lord has no son to inherit his estate ( L 8:279). Perhaps the most important scene, because it anticipates the joust and beauty contest motifs of the Weeping Castle, involves Sir Hector's battle against Persidés, husband of Helen sans per, after he is brought to her aid by her sister. He is higher class than she and his family will not accept her. She claims she is more beautiful than he is strong, so he locks her in a tower and is not allowed to leave until Sir Persidés meets someone stronger or a more beautiful woman arrives ( L 8:397-406).

The prose Tristan fragments and mirrors these scenes, as Tristan's main goal is to imitate Lancelot, the world's greatest knight and lover. Tristan comes to reside at Lancelot's castle of Joyous Guard (the former Dolorous Guard), when he and Iseult match the fame of Lancelot and Guenevere (the point where Malory leaves his story).

30. A "descriptive ethics" relies on an analysis of an informant's thinking as one means for overcoming an ethnocentric view of someone else's social customs. It is similar to descriptive linguistics, which analyzes "how people actually talk, rather than setting up norms or prescriptions for the way they ought to talk." Its purpose is to determine what acts are objects of moral prescription, and what establishes their claim to that status. See John Ladd, The Structure of a Moral Code , 26.

31. Vinaver ( Works , 1450) notes that Malory adds the words "all the astatis and comyns of that lordshyp were there ready to behold the battle and judgement" ( MD 8.25). The public attends constantly in the French source, but only here are we suddenly aware of its presence in the English text. Malory therefore condenses his source and then summarizes at a dramatic moment, maximizing

the impact of his words. Baumgartner observes the role in Malory's source played by those of Cornwall ("cil de Cornoalle"), the common people in Mark's realm who are always ready to help Tristan against his uncle ( Le "Tristan en prose, " 321). At the Weeping Castle, by contrast, Tristram is at odds with the population.

32. Mark Lambert draws attention to the role of the collective voice in Malory's works ( Malory: Style and Vision in "Le Morte Darthur " [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975], 16-19).

33. Catherine La Farge, who has also studied Malory's speakers, notices that they are often at cross-purposes. They respond with more emotion than relevance, and rarely speak at length. They retreat from known facts and recast indicative statements in the subjunctive. She writes that Malory "adds confusion and ambiguities to the received narrative by making the reader depend upon the dialogue of his self-defensive and, all in all, rather unreliable speakers" ("Conversation in Malory's Morte Darthur," Medium Aevum 56 [1987]: 225-238, 230).

34. Y 6211-6377. Maddox finds in Yvain a manipulation of rights by "ruse" rather than heroic might, royal proclamation, or majority rule ( The Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes , 70-77). Elspeth Kennedy cites other examples in her edition of Lancelot do Lac , 2:347.

35. "car trop a li rois petit gent, 'et se je conquerroie,' fait il, 'sa terre en cest point, je n'i aroie pas honor, mais honte'" ( L 8:12).

36. Before he sails for Cornwall, Tristan promises to visit Galehaut in Sorelois or Logres, "but it was not long before he heard that Galehaut was dead" ("mes il ne demora pas granment qu'il oï qu'il estoit morz," T 481.27-28).

37. In the French story, the King of the Hundred Knights destroys the Castle of Tears, but Galehaut himself must go to the site, after he has recovered from his wounds, and exact oaths from the former inhabitants that they will remove the custom.

38. The Weeping Castle symbolizes Isode's situation, which is not a happy one. She must endure an arranged marriage to King Mark, made worse because she and Tristram fall in love, yet Tristram refuses to or cannot break the convention of marriage to release her from her bondage. (She must also endure Malory, who hardly hints that her marriage is a problem and suppresses all of her speaking parts.) Besides confronting the custom of the castle, where she risks losing her head if she loses a beauty contest, Isode also suffers from Tristram's inattention, particularly as Malory tells the story. Tristram's main concern is with hunting (one of the "customs of noble gentlemen," for which Tristram

wrote the book, MD 8.3), or with how he compares to Lancelot. In a striking addition to his source, Malory has Tristram regret, when the Weeping Castle episode ends, that he cannot immediately seek out Lancelot because he must first deliver Isode to Mark: "'Alas,' said Sir Tristram, 'and I had not this message in hand with this fair lady, truly I would never stint or I had found Sir Lancelot'" ( MD 8.28). Tristram not only complains about this delay, but about the money the woman costs him. In a sentence that Malory adds to his source, Tristram says that he expects Mark to treat him well because of the "fetching and costs of Queen Isode out of Ireland, and the danger than I was in first and last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to bring again Queen Isode from the Castle Pluere" ( MD 9.21).

Isode's sad situation continues after she leaves the Weeping Castle. In Cornwall, the Irish princess finds herself in a strange land, uncertain how to behave. There is a clash of cultures between the bridal party and the locals. Two Cornish women envy Dame Bragwaine, who accompanies Isode from Ireland, and they arrange for Bragwaine's abduction. Isode shows signs of homesickness when she finds her maid missing: "Wit ye well she was right heavy as ever was any queen. . . . The cause was for she came with her out of her country" ( MD 8.29).

Homesick, vulnerable in a male world, Isode must then endure Palomides, who pesters her for favors. She makes him a rash promise that if he will return Bragwaine to her, she will reward him. When he does, she discovers that she is expected to keep her bargain. King Mark proves unable to fend off Palomides, and Tristram is "in the forest a-hunting" in her hour of need ( MD 8.30). Palomides bears her away, but she manages to escape when he has to fight Sir Lambegus, Tristram's knight. She flees like Ariosto's Angelica, Tasso's Erminia, or Spenser's Florimell: "So the queen ran into the forest, and there she found a well, and therein she had thought to have drowned herself" ( MD 8.30).

Tristram's chivalry may contrast to Sir Breunor's crude social customs, but he has little refinement or cortoisie : He hardly meets the requirement that Gaston Paris listed among the elements of what he called Courtly Love, that the lover grovel as an inferior before his lady. (For a reassessment of the nineteenth-century origins of courtly love—that love be adulterous, secret, debasing to the male—see R. Howard Bloch, "'Mieux vaut jamais que tard': Romance, Philology, and Old French Letters," Representations 36 [1991]: 64-86.) The English knight is not a doting Lancelot, however, but a colder man. He resembles Ariosto's Tristan, who taunts Clodione and offers him a woman without asking her first ( OF 32.90), and Spenser's Tristram, who seems more interested in his armor

than in his lady's welfare: having despoiled a dead knight, he "long fed his greedie eyes with the faire sight / Of the bright mettall" ( FQ 6.2.39). The name of the Weeping Castle seems to reflect Tristram's faults in the story at large, creating an image of Isode's social situation in the outside world.

It is only fair to notice, however, that within the castle the custom which Tristram calls foul plays into Isode's own best interests. She easily wins the beauty contest against Breunor's wife. Moreover, the French text makes clear what Malory's scene offers only elliptically: once the couple establish themselves, they are perfectly happy. The Castle of Tears is described from the beginning as handsome and well appointed ("biax et bien seanz," T 452.3). Even King Mark could not object to their being together ("il n'i penseroit ja nul mal," T 474.5). Their cohabitation is justified because they are prisoners. Prison is therefore so pleasing to them, in the French story, that they want never to leave. Iseult can forget the world ("tot le monde oblier," T 474.7) and regard only Tristan. Tristan feels the same way, and they spend three happy months together ("I1 demeurent en la tor bien trois mois entiers,'' T 474.15-16). Their isolation and happiness excuse the custom of the castle, which confines them within its law.

Malory characteristically suppresses Isode's happiness. And the essence of the episode that Malory retains from his source despite many changes is that the custom of the castle represents total constraint. Its customs are so powerful that they implicate Tristram, who furthers their purpose even as he resists. By his eventual success in fleeing himself from the castle's customs, moreover, Tristram unwittingly destroys Isode's happiness.

39. Paul Zumthor comments, "Les monstres des romans 'bretons' symbolisent les forces anticourtoises" ( Essai de poétique médiévale [Paris: Seuil, 1972], 360, cited by Jacques Le Goff, introduction to Erich Köhler, L'aventure chevaleresque: Idéal et réalité dans le roman courtois [Paris: Gallimard, 1974], xiii: Zumthor is citing P. Lakits, La Châatelaine de Vergi et l'évolution de la nouvelle courtoise [Debrecen, 1966].

40. There seems to be no good evidence that the rapist thief Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, Warwickshire, wrote the Morte Darthur , according to William Matthews, The Ill-Framed Knight (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), who suggests Thomas Malory of Yorkshire instead. See Benson, Malory's "Morte Darthur; " ix, and R. M. Lumiansky, "Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur ; 1947-1987: Author, Title, Text," Speculum 62 (1987): 878-897.

41. Caxton's Own Prose , ed. F. N. Blake (London: Andre Deutsch, 1973), 47.

42. Ibid.

43. Northrop Frye, On Shakespeare (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 38.

44. E. K. Chambers, English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), 196.

45. For Caxton's text, see Blake, ed., Caxton's Own Prose , 126. I have modernized the English. On Lull and the prose Lancelot , see Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), 11.

46. Chambers, English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages , 197.

Chapter Three Boiardo's Castle Cruel

1. Cicero, De Legibus , 1.14.40, in De Re Publica; De Legibus , Loeb Classical Library (1928; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952). The Latin text, where cited, is from this edition.

2. Ibid., 1.15.42.

3. "But in fact we can perceive the difference between good laws and bad by referring them to no other standard than Nature" (ibid., 1.16.44).

4. Ibid., 1.16.45.

5. Clifford Geertz, "Found in Translation: On the Social History of the Moral Imagination," in Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology (New York: Basic Books, 1983), 36-54, 48.

6. Ibid., 41.

7. Ibid., 44.

8. Ibid., 48.

9. Georges Duby cites a mid-eleventh-century text by a monk of St. Cybard of Angoulême, which relates how Hugh, lord of Lusignan, captured a castle and had the entire garrison thrown from the top of the keep, "thereby purging the entire area of his enemies." Ransoming them would have been more profitable. Hugh's violence indicated, contradictorily, his lack of power. See France in the Middle Ages , 987-1460, trans. Juliet Vale (1987; Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 71.

10. The castle bridge where the giant releases a trap door is an image of fraud, one that Edmund Spenser, for example, will make part of the custom of Pollente's castle in the Book of Justice ( FQ 5.2.12). Falling victim to fraud suggests an ignorance of what others consider acceptable behavior.

11. The Italian text is that edited by Aldo Scaglione and reprinted in Matteo Maria Boiardo, Orlando Innamorato , trans. Charles Stanley Ross (Berkeley: Uni-

versity of California Press, 1989). Numbers in the text refer to book, canto, and stanza.

12. Angelica performs a function similar to that of a damsel who alleviates Gawain's torment when he is confined to King Caradoc's Dolorous Tower in the prose Lancelot ( L 1:203-213). In that story the damsel brings Gawain a box of ointment for his swelling (he had been flogged), a pole to fight off vermin, and (later) some poison bread that kills the vermin. The pillar that keeps Gawain off the filthy floor recalls Ranaldo's roost. Caradoc's cruel mother perhaps explains why Ranaldo refers to Marchino's wife as "mother," although the epithet may also derive from a similar horror story in The Golden Ass of Apuleius. In both the Lancelot and the Innamorato , the hero does not understand the extent to which a damsel assists him.

13. John Florio, A Worlde of Wordes (1598), s.v. "lima."

14. Jo Ann Cavallo, Boiardo's "Orlando Innamorato": An Ethics of Desire (Rutherford, N.J.: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993), 57.

15. See "The Improvisation of Power," in Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 222-254.

16. Similarly, Ariosto's Rodomonte, like Marchino, unexpectedly uses terms of endearment on Isabel instead of raping her. Like Boiardo, Ariosto shifts attention from the past to present custom, highlighting a clash of cultures. Holed up in a hermitage in France, Rodomonte follows advice Ranaldo gives him in the Innamorato , that when in France he should follow French customs (in that case, by not killing horses, OI 2.14.48). Rodomonte finds barrels of wine and drinks them, "repudiating Saracen custom" ("e ripridendo il rito saracino," OF 29.22). But he gets so drunk that Isabel tricks him into killing her, preserving the chastity she vowed to her dead husband, Zerbino.

17. The duel between Orlando and Ranaldo begins when Ranaldo kills Trufaldino, a villain whom Orlando defended because he had been tricked into swearing an oath to save Angelica. Ranaldo's real claim is that Orlando had no business defending the evil king of Baghdad. In fact, Orlando only makes an issue of Ranaldo's vengeance because he jealously fears that Ranaldo loves Angelica. When Orlando, though in the wrong, claims to wield "the sword of justice," Ranaldo uses local law as a shield to protect himself from Orlando's claim ( OI 1.27.15).

18. Amorotto maintains the custom of the Castle Crudele on the island of Perfida after killing the son of Sir Gurone the Courteous ( Tristan and the Round Table , trans. Anne Shaver [Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and

Studies, 1983], 185-190). The Italian version of Tristan's story was titled La Tavola Ritonda by its nineteenth-century editor, Luigi Polidori. It seems fairly certain that Boiardo knew the Tavola in some form. Urgano the Hairy, a giant who maintains a castle in the Tavola , reappears early in the Innamorato as one of four giants who escort Angelica from her home in Cathay to Charlemagne's court in Paris ( Tristan and the Round Table , 174). Boiardo assigns Urgano's shaggy pelt to his companion Lampordo ( OI 1.1.75). Moreover Boiardo says that Tristano and Isotta die in each other's arms, a detail provided only by the Tavola Ritonda ( Tristan and the Round Table , 322). See OI 2.26.2 and Cavallo, Boiardo's "Orlando Innamorato ," 66.

19. The Metamorphoses of Ovid , trans. Allen Mandelbaum (New York: Harcourt, 1993), lines 6.648-649 and 6.655 in the original. The Latin text is cited from Ovid, Metamorphoses , The Loeb Classical Library, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971).

20. The hatred of Marchino's wife echoes what Agamemnon, thinking of how he was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, tells Odysseus in book 11 of the Odyssey , that there is no protection from a jealous woman. Marchino's wife makes a similar claim when she tells Ranaldo that "No creature is more terrifying, / Crueler and more incendiary, / Than is the wife in love when she / Is scorned and falls to jealousy" ("Lo animal che è più crudo e spaventevole, / Ed è più ardente che foco che sia, / É la moglie che un tempo fu amorevole, / Che, disprezata, cade in zelosia," OI 1.8.37). Agamemnon's concubine was the unmarried Cassandra, who could read the future though no one believed her. Marchino makes love to Stella who, after he murders her husband, is technically a widow. Boiardo alters Homer to catch the disruptive effect a beautiful widow has on the wife of another man.

21. "Ma qual vendetta lo potria far sazio / Ché pensando al suo oltraggo in veritade / Non v'era pena di tal crudeltade" ( OI 1.8.45). The original lacks punctuation, allowing the reading I give, whereas Scaglione's edition puts the phrase "considering her crime" with what follows, making the text read: "considering her crime, there is no punishment too cruel for her.'' This reading fits Marchino's desire to be the lewdest man who ever lived, but we need not rely on the lectio facilior . Marchino seems an even crueler man if he analyzes his victim's psychology, as he does, I have suggested, when he woos Stella by wiles, not force.

22. Virgil's Aeneid , trans. Allen Mandelbaum (New York: Bantam, 1981), 8.486. The Latin text is that of R. A. B. Mynors, P. Vergili Maronis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969). Boiardo follows Virgil closely: "And to the corpse

[Marchino] had Stella bound / Hand to hand, and face tight to face" ("Fece la dama a quel corpo legate, / Viso con viso stretto, e mano a mano," OI 1.8.46).

23. Spurned by Ranaldo, Angelica flies home to the East and seeks help from the magician Malagise, Ranaldo's cousin, to help her seduce Ranaldo. She offers Malagise his release from the prison where she had confined him (following an earlier attempt outside of Paris to rape her), plus the restoration of his magic manual if he will act as a go-between for her.

Malagise flies to Spain, where Ranaldo is commanding the army of Charlemagne, and informs his cousin of Angelica's offer to release Malagise if only Ranaldo will sleep with Angelica. When Ranaldo still refuses, Malagise devises a plan to lure Ranaldo to a more enticing location by means of a pilotless ship that ferries Ranaldo beyond the Straits of Gibraltar to an island named after its principal building, Palazo Zoioso (the Pleasure Palace). Although a damsel tells Ranaldo that he is a prisoner of the island of the Pleasure Palace and cannot leave, Ranaldo has only to walk away and board ship to depart. This inconsistency makes the allegory of love clear enough: Ranaldo is a prisoner insofar as the damsel finds it inconceivable that he will reject Angelica's offer of love—"You can't refuse" ("Non pôi disdire," OI 1.8.12). So strong is the effect of Merlin's Fountain, however, that Ranaldo disdains the offer of love. Furious at Ranaldo's refusal, Malagise once again transports him, this time to Castle Cruel.

24. Geertz, Local Knowledge , 43.

25. Ibid., 46.

26. The silent file that Angelica leaves for Ranaldo suggests a similar inadequacy of narrative terms to represent Ranaldo's final reaction to Castle Cruel. It functions as a sign of Angelica's sharp anguish, but it also permits Ranaldo to escape and use his sword. Boiardo had no precedent for using the file that makes no sound to suggest the social or bureaucratic structure that enables justice to operate.

27. E. M. W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), 18. Recent critics have complained that Tillyard, in his Elizabethan World Picture , projects a static, conservative society as a Renaissance ideal. Catherine Belsey, for example, accuses him of fostering a "lost Elizabethan Utopia" and promoting "in the principle of order the necessity of submission to the proper authorities, social and divine" ("Literature, History, Politics," in Modern Criticism and Theory , ed. David Lodge [New York: Longman, 1988], 400-410, 400). Cf. Patricia Parker ( Literary Fat Ladies: Rhetoric, Gender; Property [New York: Methuen, 1987], 115, 125) and Jonathan Dollimore, who attacks

Tillyard's representation of a static social system ("Introduction: Shakespeare, Cultural Materialism, and the New Historicism," in Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism , ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985], 2-17, especially 5-7). These critics generally regard Tillyard as a representative of British colonial thought, someone who cites with admiration Ulysses' speech on degree, from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida , a passage that has been reprinted for years in the Norton Anthology of English Literature , vol. 1, but was dropped from the sixth edition (New York: Norton, 1993). The example from Boiardo suggests that Tillyard's purpose was not so much to defend a new social order or promote a proper disposition as it was to read the romance images that inform Elizabethan literature. The Innamorato 's double perspective—as when Marchino first tries his role as a courtly persuader and then falls back on the extremes of violence—fits what Tillyard calls "a habit of mind most difficult for a modern to grasp, being at once fantastic and closely allied to action" ( Elizabethan World Picture , 45).

28. Tillyard, Elizabethan World Picture , 20. The "standards" Tillyard refers to are those of a Christian "theological scheme of sin and salvation" (18).

29. Cicero, De Legibus , 1.14.40.

30. Ibid., 2.4.10.

31. In the vulgate Lancelot Dolorous Guard presents a variable set of strange customs that Lancelot must overcome to win the love of Queen Guenevere. When he does and their affair seems assured, Lancelot changes the name of the castle to Joyous Guard. Inside of Dolorous Guard are found, among other things, the statue of a woman holding keys, a copper pillar which the big key opens, a coffer which the little key unlocks, thirty pipes, and a demonic organ from which devilish voices emerge to enchant the castle. These objects are a "bricolage mythologique," part of a figurative space that relies on the allegorical imagination of the audience (Daniel Poirion, "La Douloureuse Garde," in Approches du Lancelot en prose , ed. Jean Dufournet [Paris: Champion, 1984]: 25-48, 40). Its features change each time Lancelot encounters it, and his adventures there have several dénouements. Its customs are not explained. Rather, the customs "are alleged as the justification for many acts performed during the Conquest. They are arbitrary phenomena, announced from time to time when a need for justification of behavior arises. . . . They are the rules of the game, apparently created by the author as the game progressed" (J. Neale Carman, "The Conquests of the Grail Castle and Dolorous Guard,'' PMLA 85 [1970]: 433-443, 442).

32. Geertz, Local Knowledge , 41.

33. Aeneid 6.421; Inferno 6.27.

34. Rime 103.22 ( Enciclopedia Dantesca [Rome: Trecanni, 1971], 6:665; my translation). Dante found the image of internal suffering in the poems of Guiraut de Calanso ( Enciclopedia Dantesca , 3:651, s.v. "lima").

35. See James Nohrnberg, The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene " (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 368 n. 154.

36. "Pereunt quos appulit aequor" ("He slew the strangers whom the sea brought to shore") (Lucan, The Civil War ( Pharsalia ), trans. J. D. Duff, Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969], 4.606 [218-219]).

37. David Quint, Epic and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 165.

38. See OI 1.17.24-29 and 2.3.57. Rubicone brings out Ranaldo's violent side just as Lucan's Caesar reveals his true, antirepublican character by crossing the Rubicon river.

39. Boiardo's poem shares the general Renaissance disdain for the lower classes, Antonio Franceschetti argues in "Eroi, soldati, e popoli nel mondo dell' Innamorato e del Furioso, " in Humanitas e poesia: Studi in onore di Gioacchino Paparelli (Salerno: Pietro Laveglia, 1988-1990), 117-142. Nonetheless, as Stephen Greenblatt shows in a well-known essay, the ways in which an artist depicts even the murdering of peasants tell us something about his deeper social values ("Murdering Peasants: Status, Genre, and the Representation of Rebellion," Representations 1 [1983]: 1-29). Boiardo, as an aristocrat, depended on the past for his identity, but Castle Cruel indicates a poet who worried deeply about the loss of natural law and the power of experience and the recent past to motivate human behavior.

40. Quint argues that Virgil associated the wanderings of romance with history's losers ( Epic and Emphre , 9). I would argue that Boiardo regarded errancy as a temporary truancy for the privileged.

41. See Hans Baron, The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966). It is Baron's civic humanism, traveling through the centuries, sometimes in the open, sometimes hidden, that J. G. A. Pocock in The Machiavellian Moment (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975) traces through the seventeenth century to show how it developed into an ideology of republicanism that supported the American revolution.

42. Ibid., 49.

43. Ibid., 71.

44. Translated by Edmund G. Gardner, Dukes and Poets of Ferrara (1904; New York: Haskell House, 1968), 70 n. 1.

45. The index to my translation of the Orlando Innamorato (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) traces how these characters appear first in stories and then in the story .

46. Cicero, De Legibus , 1.15.42.

47. Ibid., 1.15.42-43.

48. Cavallo, Boiardo's "Orlando Innamorato, " 113. For other recent assessments, see Peter Marinelli, Ariosto and Boiardo: The Origins of "Orlando Furioso " (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987), and Antonio Franceschetti, ''II Boiardo e l'avvio del Furioso, " in Da Dante al Manzoni , ed. Bianca Maria Da Rif and Claudio Griffio (Florence: Olschki, 1991), 111-130, 123 (arguing that Ariosto's heroes reason and make decisions, in contrast to Boiardo's knights).

49. "fosse iustizia, o fosse crudeltade" ( OF 11.52). Like the custom of Castle Cruel, the custom of the Ebudans emerges from the pathos of a victimized victim. Proteus invades the island to punish a father who has punished his daughter for being raped by Proteus: "As the story makes clear, woman is punished for sins she did not commit and punished again for being the victim of sins she was unable to avoid" (Valeria Finucci, The Lady, Vanishes: Subjectivity and Representation in Castiglione and Ariosto [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992], 138).

Chapter Four Ariosto's Fable of Power

1. William Shakespeare, As You Like It , 2.1.12.è

2. Jean-Franois Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute , trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele (1984; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 29.

3. Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element of Culture (1950; Boston: Beacon Press, 1962). The terms in quotation marks are typical of the language of ethnomethodologists such as Harold Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967).

4. See Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince , trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, World's Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), chapter 6.

5. "While seasons of praise or blame for that historical classic [Jacob Burckhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy ] have come and gone in one of the more elaborate rituals of the tribe of historians, the notion of a transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance refuses to go away. I take it to be one of Burckhardt's central, though seldom fully appreciated, insights that what he called 'Renaissance individualism' emerged with new forms of political, social, and cultural organization, which simultaneously promoted and militated against the free expression of individuality" (Randolph Starn, Contrary Commonwealth: The Theme of Exile in Medieval and Renaissance Italy [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982], xviii).

6. Pio Rajna, Le Fonti dell' "Orlando Furioso " (Florence: Sansoni, 1900), 486-505. Rajna thought such scenes merely revealed the errant knight's prowess.

7. Peter Marinelli, Ariosto and Boiardo: The Origins of "Orlando Furioso " (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987), and Albert Ascoli, Ariosto's Bitter Harmony: Crisis and Evasion in the Italian Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). Mario Santoro's work is typical of criticism that concentrates on the Arthurian elements of Rinaldo's defense of women (canto 5) and the story of the "nappo" (canto 37), although he also analyzes the story of Olympia, which was added to the third edition of the Furioso ( Ariosto e il Rinascimento ) (Naples: Liguori Editore, 1989), 134-166, 171-184, 275-294. Daniel Javitch, Proclaiming a Classic: The Canonization of ''Orlando Furioso " (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), writes about Ariosto's reception in the sixteenth century without mentioning Spenser or his fascination with Ariosto's customs and castles.

8. Peter DeSa Wiggins, Figures in Ariosto's Tapestry: Character and Design in the "Orlando Furioso " (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 202. Wiggins repeats his formulation elsewhere when he calls Spenser's imitation of the Tower of Tristan the "profoundest" of his imitations of Ariosto and suggests the need for a harder look at the scene ("Spenser's Anxiety," MLN 103 [1988]: 75-86, 84). Pamela Benson argues that because Bradamante "makes a carefully reasoned defense of her rights as a military woman," one can say that Ariosto explicitly connected the Rocca di Tristano episode to the tradition of defenses of women ( The Invention of Renaissance Women [University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992], 129). By contrast, Valeria Finucci writes that "Bradamante seems to suffer from penis envy since she dresses like a

man, behaves like a man, and claims that she is a man even when everybody is convinced otherwise, as in the Rocca di Tristano episode" ( The Lady Vanishes: Subjectivity and Representation in Castiglione and Ariosto [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992], 210). See also Deanna Shemeck, "Of Women, Knights, Arms, and Love: The Querelle des Femmes in Ariosto's Poem," Modern Language Notes 104 (1989): 68-97.

9. Marianne Shapiro, The Poetics of Ariosto (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988), 184.

10. Wiley Feinstein implies that the Tower of Tristan episode counters his thesis that "Ariosto undermines Bradamante's feminist potential" ("Bradamante in Love: Some Postfeminist Considerations in Ariosto," Forum Italicum 22 [1988]: 48-59, 48). I think he is right, that the episode is more "subtle" and "complex" than his brief comments show (51-52).

11. J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (1957; New York: Norton, 1967), 19.

12. Cited by Edmund G. Gardner, The King of Court Poets (1906; New York: Greenwood, 1968), 21-22, who goes on to quote from Ariosto's sixth satire, "My father drove me with goads and lances, not merely with spurs, to turn over texts and glosses, and kept me to that rubbish for five years" ( Satire 6.154-159).

13. On the sack of Rome as a cultural watershed, see Alberto Asor Rosa, "Il Sacco di Roma del 1527 e l'immaginario," Rivista di studi italiani 6 (1986): 18-34.

14. Line 76. See The Satires of Ludovico Ariosto: A Renaissance Autobiography , trans. Peter DeSa Wiggins (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976), 35.

15. Lines 175- 183. See The Satires of Ludovico Ariosto , 67-69.

16. "Perché ha sempre intorno un sì grosso cerchio de genre che mal si pò penetrate, sì perché si conven combattere a x usci prima che se arrivi dove sia: la qual cosa a me è tanto odiosa, che non so quando lo vedessi; né anco tento de vederlo, ne lui né omo che sia in quel palazo: pur per vostro amor forzarò la natura mia" (Ariosto's letter of 7 April 1513, in Ludovico Ariosto, Satire e lettere , ed. Cesare Segre [Turin: Einaudi, 1976], 96; my translation).

17. Lines 4- 5. See The Satires of Ludovico Ariosto , 99. For Ariosto's aural sensitivity, see James V. Mirollo, "On the Significant Acoustics of Ariosto's Noisy Poem," MLN 103 (1988): 87-112.

18. Letter of 25 June 1523, in Satire e lettere , 139.

19. Michele Catalano, Vita di Ludovico Ariosto , 2 vols. (Geneva: Olschki,

1930), 1:542. We have the list in Ariosto's hand of his dozen "balestrieri" and their salaries (2:242).

20. In the second of two custom-of-the-castle scenes Ariosto added to the final edition of the Furioso , to which I can only refer briefly here, Marganorre responds to the manipulation of customs that two women use to kill his sons by decreeing that any woman discovered in the valley near his castle and town "is to be beaten across the shoulders with a willow-rod and then ejected; but first her dress is to be shortened to expose that which Nature and modesty conceals. And if any woman happens there escorted by an armed knight, she is to be slain" ( OF 37.83). Although Ariosto signals his debt to earlier romances when he refers to this decree as an "evil custom" ("ria costuma," OF 37.99), he usually refers to it as a "cruel law" ("la legge ria di Marganorre,'' OF 37.103; "la legge sua credule e rea," OF 37.104). Marganorre implements it like a statute and posts it in the town square. But Marganorre's evil ways do not survive the attention paid to them by Marfisa.

The prestige of legislative law over oral custom depends on the reputation of the king or law-making assembly that promulgates it. After Marfisa eliminates the foul custom of Marganorre's castle by force, Marfisa literally inscribes a new law. Her belief in the primacy of the legislative act associates her with the practices of civil law. She decrees that husbands must "make over to their wives the administration of the territory and all else" and that "what elsewhere appertains to the husband was here to fall to the wife" ( OF 37.115). To ensure the administration of women, she has her rules written on a column in the town. The con-flation of customs with the strict regulations of a tyrant is not uncommon in earlier romances, but the written form of the custom or law is an Italian Renaissance touch with no precedent in Arthurian romance:

The brave warrior-damsels noticed a column standing beside a church; on it the impious tyrant had inscribed his cruel, insane law. Now they attached the shield, breastplate and helmet of Marganor to it after the manner of a trophy, and had their own law there inscribed. ( OF 37.119)

Marfisa's inscription is all the more significant because Spenser eliminates it when he creates his own version of the Marganorre story in The Faerie Queene . English common law, based on custom, had defined itself since the time of Fortescue in opposition to civil law and its sources in Roman codes (see Sir John Fortescue, De Laudibus Legum Anglie , 43 [chapter xx]). This opposition extends to Spenser's reversal of Ariosto's story. When Britomart, who represents chastity

and married love, defeats the Amazon Radigund, she does not impose but repeals the rule of women. Her action is paradoxical. How can she, as a woman, establish a law that says women cannot rule? Why would she want to? The answer is that she is not establishing a law, but restoring one.

Britomart's gesture is typical of English jurisprudence based on custom, where judges act not to make law but to uncover law that already exists. Britomart operates not by codes and decrees but by the "laws of chivalry." She establishes her reliance on chivalry at the moment when Radigund makes conditions for their combat.

But ere they reared hand, the Amazone
Began the streght condition to propound,
With which she used still to tye her fone;
To serve her so, as she the rest had bound.
Which when the other heard, she sternly frownd
For high disdaine of such indignity,
And would no lenger treat, but bad them sound.
For her no other terms should ever tie
Then what  prescribed were by  lawes of chevalrie .
        ( FQ 5.7.28; my emphasis)

The "laws of chivalry," which Britomart claims as her authority, are the good concepts of custom. These rituals of chivalry seem no different from the customs that dictate Yvain should fight two demi-goblins at once, the custom of Pesme Aventure. Yet there is a difference of degree. As Brian Stock has pointed out, one of the implications of literacy is that oral discourse often functions as if written texts were present ( The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983]). Chrétien's references to customs sometimes sound as if they assumed the existence of exact codes, and in Perceval they are, in fact, said to be written. For Chrétien customs are not diminished by writing, but they are for Spenser. When Britomart defeats Radigund, she overturns her law, and she does so by oral instruction, not by inscribing a pillar:

        there [Britomart] as Princess rained,
And changing all that forme of common weale,
The liberty of women did repeale,
Which they had long usurpt; and them restoring
To mens subiection, did true Iustice deal:

That all they as a Goddesse her adoring,
Her wisedome did admire, and hearkned to her loring
        ( FQ 5.7.42)

By insisting on the "law of chivalry," Britomart sets up an opposition between negotiated law and customary law that Spenser himself maintains by eliminating Ariosto's inscriptions. Spenser says that the "law of chivalry" is prescribed ( FQ 5.7.8, quoted above). That is, it precedes written law. This notion of precedence is the key to the strange concept of the "ancient constitution" that J. G. A. Pocock has shown played such a strong role in shaping English common law in the years when Spenser was writing: custom was both always old and always new.

21. Bigi finds that a new tension between ideals and sordid reality informs the historical series of French invasions portrayed on the walls of the Tower of Tristan ( OF 33.1-59), illustrations that Bradamante views in the second part of this addition to the 1532 version of the Furioso . See the introduction to his edition of Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso , 2 vols. (Milan: Rusconi, 1982), 36.

22. Catalano, Vita Di Ludovico Ariosto , 1:618.

23. Ibid., 1:611-612. Ariosto's private marriage was probably more typical than has been thought. Before the Council of Trent, free consent of the parties determined wedlock; see James A. Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 552.

Catalano also suggests that Alessandra's secret marriage allowed her to retain custody of her children and maintain the patrimony left her by her husband Tito Strozzi, to which she was probably entitled as long as she remained a widow (Tito Strozzi died intestate) (Catalano, Vita Di Ludovico Ariosto , 1:614). It is not to be overlooked that remarriage allowed Alessandra to escape the constraints of widowhood: in a letter she complains of having "consumato dieci anni del fiore della mia etade, come ho fato, 'in viduità'" (1:616). Alessandra's behavior may be regarded as self-centered: she kept her children in shabby conditions in Florence, complained about the little wealth her husband left her (although she had her own houses and farms in Florence), and sent her insolvent debtors to prison (1:619). But Catalano also calls Alessandra a "donna sventurato": married young to a man twice her age, she was a widow with small children during her prime of life. It may have been that the world did not condone her illegitimate relation with the poet, or that she was allowed to reveal her subsequent marriage (1:623). She died in 1552 (1:622).

24. Northrop Frye divides the virtues into private and public ("Structure of Imagery," in Fables of Identity [New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1963], 75-77), an idea that Nohrnberg develops: "Spenser's second installment goes on to treat the virtues of friendship, justice, and courtesy, which, unlike the first three, involve social loyalties rather than fidelity to a private ideal" ( The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene " [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976], 60). Holiness and temperance, the subjects of Spenser's first two legends, are individual virtues: The former begins in the wandering wood of error and the deceptive house of Archimago where Red Crosse dreams. The legend of Temperance is served by the House of Medina, which suits the lesson of the temperate mean that Aristotle teaches in the Ethics , and by the Castle of Alma, or the soul.

The order of Spenser's next four legends (chastity, friendship, justice, courtesy) reflects the Aristotelian and humanist belief that matrimony, a partnership based on diversity, is the foundation of the social order and justice. The legend of chastity starts with a version of the custom of the castle. Malecasta is said to have ordained a "law" requiring passing knights to battle for her, and she is "accustomed"—Spenser's only use of the word—to Persian luxury ( FQ 3-1.41). The motif then appears successively in the opening cantos of the following books: the Castle of Couples in the legend of friendship in Book IV, Munera's Castle in the legend of justice in Book V, and Crudor's Castle and Sir Turpine's Castle of the Ford in the legend of courtesy in Book VI.

25. Ariosto did not settle on this reprise to round out the action of the two poems, but added Ruggiero's involvement with King Leo of Hungary as a preliminary to his final duel with Rodomonte. Henri Hauvette long ago caught an echo of Boiardo's poem in this aborted plot, sensing that the "trophée" was a departure point for new rivalries ( L'Arioste et la poésie chevaleresque à Ferrare au dé-but du XVIe siécle [Paris: Champion, 1927], 280). Angelica's similar challenge—part of a plot by her father to disrupt Charlemagne's court—begins Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato and disperses the Christians, keeping Orlando from the defense of Paris. Knowing Ariosto planned yet further revisions, Hauvette found the Ullania addition out of keeping with the economy of the poem, and compared it to the Cinque Canti . The theme of those strange stanzas is also discord. A council of malignant fays haunts a forest near Prague, and Charlemagne must exorcize this image of hate, chaos, violence, and deceit. Ariosto rejected this dark expansion, and the Cinque Canti were not printed until after he died. Similarly, he seems to have rejected an open allegory of discord, leaving Ullania's mission attenuated in the poem as we have it.

26. Ruggiero saves Brunello from the gallows in Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato 2.21.36ff.

27. Pio Rajna, Le Fonti del' "Orlando Furioso, " 492; for the shepherd, see the epigraph of this book.

28. Barbara Reynolds, Orlando Furioso (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974).

29. The United States Supreme Court has held, in an infamous decision, that a state has the power to treat any appearance by a defendant as a submission to the state's jurisdiction over his person, York v. Texas , 137 U.S. 15, 11 S.Ct. 9 (1890). No state currently exercises its power to lay this cruel trap. Similar issues of institutional jurisdiction, especially the boundaries of canon law and civil law, must have worried the legal minds of Ferrara.

30. See Henry V 1.2.37. In poking fun at Clodione, Ariosto undermines the notion that customs have founders at all. Pocock observes that Machiavelli could write with what seems singular naiveté of the man "chi ordinó" so complex a creation of history as the monarchy of France: "Custom came to be a salutary corrective to the thought of this king; all its emphasis was on gradual process, imperceptible change, the origin and slow growth of institutions in usage, tacit consent, prescription and adaptation" ( The Ancient Constitution , 19). Custom, when written and codified, loses its essential character. To restore authority to custom, common lawyers began to posit remote and mythical legislators (36).

31. With him when he arrives at Clodione's castle is a woman whom he recently rescued from a giant. Waldman's translation says Tristan was still pulling along the giant. The Italian probably means that the giant had been pulling the woman along when Tristan rescued her ("che traea presa a forza un fier gigante," OF 32.84).

32. Gyron le Courtoys c. 1501 , ed. C. E. Pickford (London: Scolar Press, 1977).

33. Gyron le Courtoys , cclviii v . The technique whereby a main character leaves his main quest to settle some local political affairs occurs when Ranaldo finds Iroldo weeping in a grove, wondering how to rescue Prasildo from Falerina's Garden ( OI 1.16.60-1.17.22). At this point Rubicone appears (see above, chapter 3, note 38). Boiardo's example suggests that the custom of the castle is usually the tip of the iceberg for themes that circulate, often submerged, through interlaced romances. Guyon's version of this motif occurs when he meets Mammon, whose house has its own foul customs ( FQ 2.7.3). Gyron should be added to the list of sources for Guyon's name.

34. Gyron le Courtoys , cclix v .

35. "Cy est le perilleux passage dung chevalier seul encontre les vingt. Et bien saiche vrayement que chascun chevalier errant que avanture apportera par destuy chemin que iamais ceste coustume ne fauldra devant que passez y feront par force darmes quatre chevaliers" ( Gyron le Courtoys , cclx r ).

36. "Gyron qui le chevalier voit venir le commence a regarder" ( Gyron le Courtoys , cclxiii v ). There is a pun. They "regarde" each other because they have such "regarde" for each other (cclxvii v ).

37. "Gyron voit que la nuyt vient si approchent" ( Gyron le Courtoys , cclxv v ).

38. "Me diez en quel guise ceste perilleux advanture de ce chastel fust establie premierement" ( Gyron le Courtoys , cclxviii r ).

39. Rajna, Le Fonti del' "Orlando Furioso ," 498.

40. Gyron le Courtoys , cclxviii v -cclxxiv v

41. The Convivio of Dante Alighieri , trans. Philip H. Wicksteed (London: Dent, 1903), I: viii.

42. Ibid., I: x.

43. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), xvii.

44. André Chastel, The Sack of Rome , 1527, trans. Beth Archer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 26. The account that follows is indebted to Chastel's work.

45. Isabella lost a cargo of precious tapestries to pirates (Chastel, The Sack of Rome , 1527, 245).

46. Ibid., 37.

47. Francesco Guicciardini, The History of Italy , trans. Sidney Alexander (1969; New York: Collier, 1972), 49 (my emphasis). "[Charles] entrò in Asti il dì nono di settembre dell'anno mille quattocento novantaquattro, conducendo seco in Italia i semi di innumerabili calamità, di orribilissimi accidenti, e variazione di quasi tutte le cose: perché dalla passata sua non solo ebbono principio mutazioni di stati, sovversioni di regni, desolazioni di paesi, eccidi ci città, crudelissime uccisioni, ma eziandio nuovi abiti, nuovi costumi, nuovi e sanguinosi modi di guerreggiare, infermità insino a quel dì non conosciute; si disordinorono di maniera gli instrumenti della quiete e concordia italiana che, non si essendo mai poi potuta riordinare, hanno avuto facoltà altre nazioni straniere e eserciti barbari di conculcarla miserabilmente e devastarla" ( Opere , ed. Vittorio de Caprariis [Naples: Ricciardi, 1961], 435).

48. See Gardner, The King of Court Poets , 206.

49. Michael Murrin finds a conflict between those who find an Ariosto of concord (Marinelli, Wiggins) and those for whom his skepticism is paramount (Quint, Ascoli): "While these critics wish to recover Ariosto for history, none of them is doing a New Historical analysis of the court, the role of the poet in that court, or fables of power" ( Italica 66 [1989]: 466-469, 467).

50. Ascoli, Ariosto's Bitter Harmony , 31 n.55, 32.

51. Walter Binni, Due studi critici: Ariosto e Foscolo (Rome: Bulzoni, 1978), 11.

52. Cf. Nohrnberg, The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene, " 18.

53. Wiggins, The Satires of Ludovico Ariosto , xx.

54. For Atlante as Ariosto's persona, see David Quint, "The Figure of Atlante: Ariosto and Boiardo's Poem," MLN 94 (1979): 77-91. For Astolfo, see A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), 140. See also Ascoli, Ariosto's Bitter Harmony , 37.

55. John Addington Symonds, The Renaissance in Italy: Italian Literature , 2 vols. (New York: Scribner's, 1904), 1:441-442.

56. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction , trans. Robert Hurley, 3 vols. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 1:92.

57. "Dispersion and (Re) Integration: Ariosto's I Suppositi and Archetypal Modes of Early Sixteenth-Century Italian Comedy," JMRS 16 (1986): 197-212.

58. C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love (1936; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), 306.

59. At the nameless castle, where the social order is uncertain, Britomart avoids a strategic confrontation, in contrast to the brutal justice of Talus ( FQ 5.2.25), or to her own earlier adventure at Malecasta's castle, where the issues of right and wrong, chastity and the lack of it, are clear-cut ( FQ 3.1).

60. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1899), xix.

Chapter Five Spenser's Customs of Courtesy

1. Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Russian Literature , ed. Fredson Bowers (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981), 146-147.

2. See the prefatory remarks to Book VI in A. C. Hamilton, ed., Spenser: The Faerie Queene , 621.

3. In contrast to the arbitrary, symbolic customs of Book VI—Crudor's craving for shaved beards and Arthur's strange charge that Turpine strips travelers of their upper garments—the customs of Pollente's bridge and castle in the legend of justice (Book V of The Faerie Queene ) seem eminently practical. The Pollente episode suggests the skills needed to confront the historical reality of local tolls and town customs in Ireland, highwaymen who rob passersby, and neighboring landlords ready to go to court to defend property lines. Bacon called the related topic of tenures a source of great turbulence: "I have chosen to Read upon the Law of Uses made 27. Hen . 8, a Law whereupon the Inheritances of thise Realme are tossed at this day like a Ship upon the Sea" ( Learned Reading upon the Statute of Uses [1642], A 3).

Spenser would not have known Bacon's lecture. But it seems fitting that Spenser compares Pollente's duel with Artegall to the contest between a dolphin (glossed as "guile" by Hamilton) and a seal. Seals usually live at sea. But seals are also the wax impressions that attest the execution of a legal document, such as a deed. Pollente's daughter is named Munera, "agreeing with her deeds." A pun on deeds as activities (such as bribing officials) and rifles to real estate had been possible since Henry VIII's Statute of Uses, which authorized conveying title to realty by a writing. The beneficial interest in property is called a "use" (the nominal owner might be someone else). Even Donny the dwarf knows that Pollente's way of fighting is not to joust (the romance sign of justice), but to jump off his bridge "through practice usuall " ( FQ 5.2.8). I believe that the Pollente episode is as close to a poetic representation of the Munster settlement as The Faerie Queen provides. The trapdoors in the bridge may represent the procedural pitfalls of a lawsuit, such as Spenser and his neighbor Lord Roche engaged in. Or the scene may figure Artegall's inability to ascertain the exact nature of local custom, a problem for someone seeking to prove title to land.

4. Despite the strategic placement of these scenes, few critics focus on custom itself, or extend to Turpine's Castle of the Ford their comments on the topos that the Variorum edition of Spenser's works treats most fully for Malecasta's castle, which it traces back to Boiardo's Palazo Zoioso (Edmund Spenser, Works: A Variorum Edition , ed. E. A. Greenlaw, F. M. Padelford, C. G. Osgood, et al., 10 vols. [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1932-1949]), vol. 3, 208. Rosemond Tuve, for example, says that "castles with 'customs' which the errant knights must face" are merely incident to "the initial datum : these are tales of knights errant" ( Allegorical Imagery [Princeton: Princeton University

Press, 1966), 379-380; cf. 384). Harry Berger lists romance motifs for Book VI, from nurseries and foundlings to cannibals, shepherds, and "withdrawal and return," but like others he ignores the custom of the castle topos (Harry Berger, Jr., "A Secret Discipline: The Faerie Queene Book VI," in Revisionary Play [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988], 215-242, 216. Patricia Parker's wide-ranging essay on romance in The Spenser Encyclopedia , which reminds us that romances are characterized by recurring images such as magic castles where knights receive instruction, overlooks the custom of the castle as a scene of social confrontation ( The Spenser Encyclopedia , ed. A. C. Hamilton [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990], 609-618). Humphrey Tonkin's article " The Faerie Queene , Book VI" adds nothing to his earlier studies of courtesy, and misleadingly telescopes hundreds of years of Arthurian Romance by referring to Crudor's custom as "a variation on a Celtic legend" ( The Spenser Encyclopedia , 283-287). The Spenser Encyclopedia itself offers no article on either castles or customs.

Critics who do consider Crudor's and Turpine's castles usually ignore the theme of social custom. James Nohrnberg is something of an exception. His analogical technique rightly turns our attention to Malecasta, Malbecco, and the opening of Book IV, and he compares Turpine to the "difficult or intractable person" of Giovanni Della Casa's courtesy book, Galateo ( The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene, " 656). The critical focus usually falls, however, on the knight who broaches the castle or on the keeper of the custom. Dorothy Woodward Culp summarizes the first episodes of Book VI by saying that Calidor meets and helps various people in distress ("Courtesy and Fortune's Chance in Book 6 of The Faerie Queene," Modern Philology 68 [1971]: 254-259, 254). Theresa Krier merges Crudor's demand that Briana beard knights (thus humiliating her by demanding a price for his love) with the traditions of courtly love. She therefore adds an economic motive to the secrecy, adultery, and idealization of the female that normally characterize the medieval passion whose essential distinction, one supposed, was its ability to transcend cupidity ( Gazing on Secret Sights [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990], 231-232). David Miller ("Calidore," The Spenser Encyclopedia , 127-128) and Gordon Teskey ("Arthur in The Faerie Queene,'' The Spenser Encyclopedia , 69-71) nearly contrast the conduct of Crudor, which may be reformed, to Sir Turpine's irredeemable turpitude. Yet the infinite varieties of evil do not quite explain the problem of social confrontation. What a poem can treat as moral philosophy has darker consequences in the world.

5. See Hamilton, Spenser: The Faerie Queene , 737.

6. The allegory is "faint enough," writes Norhnberg, but the meaning seems to be that "perverted effort [Maleffort] in the service of evil custom is a fertile source of error" ( The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene, " 695).

7. Hamilton, Spenser: The Faerie Queene , note to FQ 6.1.25.

8. George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (1589; Cambridge: At the University Press, 1936), 226.

9. Frank Whigham comments that "when Calidore and Crudor fight in The Faerie Queene . . . moral disparity recedes before martial resemblance." He reads the episode as an expression of a "tension between ideological distinctiveness and the fluid social reality" ( Ambition and Privilege: The Social Tropes of Elizabethan Courtesy Theory [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984], 78-79).

10. Compare the "affection" that suddenly alters Leontes in The Winter's Tale (1.2.137), making him suspect his queen of adultery. Although Briana calms down while Leontes heats up, both experience a sudden change in mood.

11. Kenneth Burke, Language as Symbolic Action (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), 441.

12. Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious , 234-235.

13. Ibid., 173.

14. Felicity Heal identifies two contrasting aspects of English civility: "The first is the idea that refinement separates those who possess it from the rest, and justifies them in seeking one another's company. . . . Paradoxically, the second important aspect of the civility literature is its concern for the idea of accommodation. Social versatility, and the ability to adjust to the needs of others for the avoidance of unpleasantness, became major themes in English writing from the mid-Elizabethan period onwards" ( Hospitality in Early Modern England [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990], 103-104).

15. The first part of Malecasta's entry procedure inverts the normal custom that tests a knight by his prowess. By her rules, whoever wins, loses. A knight with no lady must serve her. A knight with a lady must abandon his lady. And a knight who refuses to give up his lady and successfully defends her beauty against Malecasta receives, by law, Malecasta as his reward, just what he does not want, since he already has a lady. Because her "soueraine beautie hath no living pere," say her six guardians in a logical non sequitur, she "hath ordained this law, which we approuve" ( FQ 3.1.26).

The unweaving of Malecasta's social web is caused not by anything Britomart does, but instead follows from the web's own logic. After Britomart defeats the

six perversions of civility who defend Malecasta—Gardante and the others were ironically "traynd in all civilitee" ( FQ 3.1.44)—she enters the castle for the night, as required by Malecasta's law. If Malecasta represents adultery or premarital sex, as most commentators say, nonetheless her law—which Spenser's interest in laws and customs characteristically emphasizes—functions to allow her to operate simply as what used to be called a "masher," someone sexually aggressive, either male or female, whose attentions make others uncomfortable.

16. Sir Edward Coke, for example, calls the shifting of land from tillage to pasture an "inconvenience" to the commonwealth due to depopulation and the beginning of "mischief" ( The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England or A Commentary upon Littleton , 4th ed. [London, 1639], 85). Spenser uses "inconvenience" in this technical sense throughout The View of the Present State of Ireland .

17. Spenser calls The Faerie Queene a "continued Allegory, or dark conceit" in his letter to Raleigh (Hamilton, Spenser: The Faerie Queene , 737).

18. What is looked for at Calepine's hand is a heroic response, but Calepine balks. By contrast, Britomart, Paridell, and the Squire of Dames threaten to fire Malbecco's gates when he locks them out ( FQ 3.9.17). Boiardo's Orlando tells the traitor Trufaldino that unless he unlocks the gates of Albraca, he will scatter the citadel across the plains ( OI 1.15.46). Generally Spenser's knights have only human powers; none takes on armies singlehanded. But they do overpower mobs, and even Calepine later disperses the savages who capture Serena. Here, however, he shows only weakness.

19. The allegory suggests that she was bitten by the Blattant Beast because she became pregnant while making love outdoors to Calepine—or that slander would have it seem so.

20. Nor does the romance endorse specific practices of child care. In contrast, Renaissance courtesy manuals often center on family life. L. B. Alberti's Vita Civile , for example, advises mothers to nurse their children, or to find a suitable substitute. Spenser's images work insofar as they show universals, not accidents of history. Nonetheless, a detail that has nothing to do with courtesy keeps the romance grounded in reality: the baby cries all day. It is a grateful Calepine who finds Matilda, a childless woman who relieves his social embarrassment. By the time she does, however, he has lost his way. He will not meet Serena again until he finds her naked and silent among the savages, a rich image

that from this perspective suggests her inability (due to herself, social practices, or male conditioning) to impart her experience ( FQ 6.8.51).

21. Stephen Greenblatt, "To Fashion a Gentleman: Spenser and the Destruction of the Bower of Bliss," in Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 157-192. In a similar vein, Robert Stillman suggests that Spenser uses the green world of pastoral romance to conceal his political concerns ("Spenserian Autonomy and the Trial of New Historicism: Book Six of The Faerie Queene," English Literary Renaissance 22 [1992]: 299-314).

22. The Book of Justice, as well as Spenser's plans for reforming Ireland, make the mistake of specificity that Book VI generally manages to avoid. The Book of Courtesy starts off on this wrong foot by making civility a place, not an idea (the flower of virtue "spreds it selfe through all civilitie," 6.proem.4). Edmund Campion similarly equates civility with areas of Ireland that answer the writs of the crown ( Historie of Ireland [Dublin, 1633], fol. A).

23. Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Filocolo , Book IV, question i, in Decameron, Filocolo, Ameto, Fiammetta , ed. Enrico Bianchi, Carlo Salinari, and Natalino Sapegno (Milan: Ricciardi, 1952), 838.

24. Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie , 170.

25. Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology , trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 212.

26. René Descartes, Discourse on Method and the Meditations , trans. F. E. Sutcliffe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), 29.

27. Civility, the culmination of social graces, is broadly characterized. Colin later tells Calidor that the graces "teach us, how to each degree and kynde / we should our selves demeane, to low, to hie; / To friends, to foes" ( FQ 6.10.23). Colin Clout represents that part of Spenser capable of poetic rapture or ecstasy, the furious fit described in the October eclogue. His lofty, transcendent vision therefore does not translate the three graces into specific modes of conduct. We gather little more than that the three graces contrast the three detractions, Defetto, Decetto, and Despetto. They assume the classic position of Renaissance art—two facing forward, one backward—to show "That good should from us goe, then come in greater store" ( FQ 6. 10.24). Defetto and Decetto, like Turpine and the Blatant Beast (now spelling with one t ), prefer to attack from behind ( FQ 6.5.19).

28. Michael MacCarthy-Morrogh, The Munster Plantation: English Migration to Southern Ireland, 1583-1641 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 111-114.

29. Ibid., 124.

30. See Bruce Avery, "Mapping the Irish Other: Spenser's A View of the Present State of Ireland," ELH 57 (1990): 263-280.

31. MacCarthy-Morrogh, The Munster Plantation , 135.

32. Custom is defined narrowly in the View , a dialogue that treats in turn the Irish abuses of laws, customs, and religion, then offers remedies to solve the problems it identifies. Spenser's fascination with specific social forms emerges most forcibly when Eudoxus exclaims how much he enjoys listening to Irenius's description of these customs, the "manye swete remembraunces of Antiquityes" ( Spenser's Prose Works , ed. Rudolf Gottfried [Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1949], 81). Abusive customs include nomadic herding (97), wearing a mantle and glib (long bangs that cover the face, 99-102), uncivil battle cries (102), choice of weapons (106), ceremonies such as prayers and charms and vows (107), and the Irish "manner of marryinge of burying of dauncinge of singinge of feastinge of Cursinge" (109). The moral of the View is that Irish ways of dressing, speaking, and riding are unsuited to Englishmen. The Faerie Queene , however, locates suitability in the moral sphere, not in precise modes of dress, speech, or carriage.

33. For example, Arthur, if he were to become king in some future extension of The Faerie Queene to twenty-four books, would necessarily become what in Malory he already is, the husband of an unfaithful queen.

34. The lesson that courtesy includes tolerating practices of which one disapproves, as well as others' disapproval of what one believes is right, is repeated three times in the two central cantos positioned between the first half and the last third of the book—where we usually look for Spenser's allegorical core. First, Arthur baffles Turpine and holds him up for an example, but does not kill him. Second, Mirabella, like Turpine, maintains her own ways, despite the heavy sentence imposed on her by the court of Cupid. When offered a choice, she refuses to be released from Disdain and Scorn. The presence of these figures suggests their inevitability in social situations. The narrative voice castigates her woman's pride ( FQ 6.8.1), but the story accepts her resolution. Some aloofness is necessary for a woman, even if she is condemned for it. Finally, Serena ends where she began, naked and outdoors with Calepine, vulnerable, unable to communicate her experience in terms others will understand ( FQ 6.8.51). As an outcast, she can easily stand for the entrepreneurial poet, whose very vocation exposes him to censure.

Chapter Six Hamlet's Ghost Fear

1. "How many unjust things custom makes one do" (Publius Terentius Afer, Heauton Timorumenos ( The Self-Tormentor ), in Terence , trans. John Sargeaunt, Loeb Classical Library [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953], 202-203 [line 839]).

2. William Graham Sumner, Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals (Boston: Ginn and Company; The Athenaeum Press, 1913), 28-29, 67.

3. Ibid., 3.

4. Terry Eagleton, William Shakespeare (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 73. Coriolanus rails against the customs of Rome that he must follow if he wishes to have the people's voice as their leaden Leah Marcus argues that Coriolanus displays the increasing power of the laws and customs of London ( Puzzling Shakespeare [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988], 211). Marcus reads the banishment of Coriolanus as the symbolic ouster of royal and aristocratic privilege from London: "If there is one precipitating cause behind his rejection as consul, it is his inability to act within what the aristocrats scoffingly refer to as the citizens' 'rotten Privilege and Custom'" (204). Coriolanus (who uses the word custom more than any character in Shakespeare) rejects "customs" because they represent the voice of the people (205).

5. Stanley Carell, Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 188.

6. Hilary Gatti, The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge: Giordano Bruno in England (London: Routledge, 1989), ix.

7. Julia Annas, An Introduction to Plato's "Republic " (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 22.

8. Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 9-17. Insofar as it has come to be an anthropological commonplace, Dollimore's key insight survives his telling: in Radical Tragedy , Dollimore traces two conceptions of ideology, which he calls cognitive and materialist. The cognitive conception recognizes that rulers consolidate power by conspiring to produce systems of belief that will mystify the ruled. Men like Machiavelli, Calvin, Montaigne, and Marlowe tell us such deception exists. But a materialist ideology is more important than the cognitive, because the materialist concep-

tion conditions and grounds consciousness itself. A material ideology "exists in, and as, the social practices which constitutes people's lives." For Dollimore, the materialist conception represents an important shift in Marxist thinking. While the term "materialism" recalls Marx's historical materialism (the cognitive doctrine that ideology is the way those who control a society's means of production defend their privilege), the new form of materialism contains the cognitive conception of ideology within it. It invokes an interrelationship of ideology and power. In this way, materialism and cognition together are more complex than a strictly limited cognitive conception of ideology.

These cultural conceptions were also "inextricably related" during the Elizabethan/Jacobean period, as the writings of Francis Bacon show—to Dollimore's astonishment, since it took current Marxist thought so long to recognize their overlapping nature. For example, Bacon's doctrine of idols reveals a cognitive view of ideology, leading Bacon to equate tradition with credulity. But Bacon simultaneously held a materialist conception of ideology, as when he observes that customs move men as forcibly as wheels move engines.

At this point Dollimore supplies the interpretive logic necessary to combine Bacon's awareness of the limits of cognition with Bacon's less obvious insight into historical materialism. To move men as wheels move engines is to have power over society. Traditions move men, customs move men; any social practice moves men. Therefore traditions, customs, and social practices are sources of power. Dollimore praises the sophistication of Bacon's thought for its understanding that this power to move men is the power to maintain social order. Bacon knows that the power of custom depends on the force of belief. This knowledge comes to him when he recognizes the element of raw credulity on which traditions, customs, and social practices depend. Because Bacon understands the importance of credulity and the force of belief, he therefore understands what Dollimore calls the epistemology of truth. Those who maintain a social order also control its epistemological truth. The corollary to this grasp of the very, foundation of social behavior follows, that such truth is relative to local custom.

Dollimore claims, however, that not only is epistemological truth—what we credulously believe—relative to social custom, but that ethical truth is similarly relative. He derives this ethical dimension not from his discussion of Bacon, but from other thinkers he reviews, such as Calvin and Montaigne, who recognized that institutions such as religion or the law are agencies of control. Ethics, then,

is a product of institutions in Dollimore's thinking, just as knowledge is a function of what we can know when not deceived by idols of the tribe, the marketplace, or the theater.

For several reasons Dollimore's tour of Marxist thinking takes longer than it might to reach the conclusion that ethics vary with time and place. For one thing, Dollimore fails to mention Bacon's idols of the den: each person's perceptions are distorted by their own "proper and peculiar nature," by their own smaller worlds of experience, which are subject to fortune. Second, Dollimore distorts his analysis by insistently resorting to a myth of progress. The period, he says, had a " developing awareness of ideology." Tradition, for Bacon, "becomes" the basis for a materialist conception of ideology. Once "epistemological and ethical truth was recognized to be relative to custom and social practice, then ideological considerations were inevitably foregrounded'' (my emphasis). Moreover, because Dollimore focuses on the early seventeenth century, he conflates his earlier witnesses like Erasmus and More with mid-century humanists like Elyot and Ascham and Wilson.

9. Marshall Sahlins, Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), 22.

10. Giovanni Della Casa's Galateo reproves the drinking of healths ( brindisi ) ( Galateo: Ovvero de' Costumi [Milan: Rizzoli, 1977], 132). Cf. Plato's Laws : "A native will always meet the stranger's astonishment at an unfamiliar practice with the words, There is no call for surprise; this is our established custom in the matter, though yours may perhaps be different. . . . So we must take the whole subject of convivial drinking into fuller consideration; it is a practice of grave importance, and calls for the judgment of no mean legislator" ( Laws 1.637d, trans. A. E. Taylor, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato , ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, Bollingen Series LXXI [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978]). To decide how a drinking party ought to be conducted requires a theory of education, since the point of companionship over a bottle is to imitate the good conduct of the best men—someone should be in control (I.640b)—not to follow debased taste ("education is, in fact, the drawing and leading of children to the rule which has been pronounced right by the voice of the law, and . . . by the concordant experience of the best and oldest men," II.659).

11. For more on the stage-business of wearing a hat in Hamlet, Love's Labor's Lost 5.1, and As You Like It 3.3, see Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage: 1574-1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 1-2.

12. Della Casa's Galateo claims more time is wasted determining the fine points of ceremony than in conducting business. Courtiers in Rome know how to do these things, but elsewhere

le cirimonie sono di grande sconcio alle faccende e di molto tedio. "Copritevi," dice il giudice impacciato, al quale manca il tempo: e colui, fatte prima alquante riverenze, con grande stropiccio di piedi, rispondendo adagio, dice: "Signor mio io sto bene così." Ma pur dice il giudice, "Copritevi"; e quegli, torcendosi due e tre volte per ciascun lato e piegandosi fino in terra, con molta gravità risponde: "Priego Vostra Signoria che me lasci fare il debito mio'': e dura questa battaglia tanto e tanto tempo si consuma che il giudice in poco più arebbe potuto sbrigarsi di ogni sua faccenda quella mattina. ( Galateo , 90)

13. "The Pope never takes off his cap for anyone whatever" ( The Complete Works of Montaigne: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters , trans. Donald Frame [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957], 925, 938). I am in debt for this reference to Edwina Vittorini, "Montaigne, Ferrara and Tasso," in The Renaissance in Ferrara and Its European Horizons , ed. June Salmons and Walter Moretti (Swansea: University of Wales Press, 1984), 145-167; see also Oeuvres Complètes de Michel de Montaigne , vol. 7, Journal de Voyage en Italie (Paris: Louis Conard, 1928), 202.

14. "A Sermon Preached Before the King's Majesty at Whitehall on the Fifth of April, A.D. MDCXVIII, Being Easter Day," in Lancelot Andrewes, XCVI Sermons (London, 1641), 518.

15. Sumner, Folkways , 57.

16. Boccaccio, Il Filocolo , Book IV, question i.

17. Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie , 196.

18. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution , 14-15.

19. As Annabel Patterson has shown, current practices could be tarred as usurpations of more ancient customs. Anti-enclosure tracts, for example, appealed "to the past as the source of 'ancient rights,' some of which were actually imagined as embedded in charters; but it was still to be found as a strategy from 1610 to the 1640s, when parliamentarians were developing their case against the king on the grounds of 'ancient liberties' that Stuart absolutism was said to have abrogated" ( Shakespeare and the Popular Voice [Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1989], 41). Patterson concludes that "the idea of the 'common' had much wider ideological force, and stood for customary practices and 'rights' that were clearly perceived as such at the time of, and because of, their rescinding" (44).

20. The Atre of Rhetorique (1553), fol. 19; Mair's edition, 33.

21. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative , vol. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 5 and 231, cites Saint Augustine, The Confessions , book 11, chap. 14:17, noting that an investigation of time is really an investigation of the self.

22. Although Wilson never escapes his own convictions, he was a good storyteller. He and other sixteenth-century writers went beyond the limits of logic or rhetoric by drawing on a long narrative tradition to explore the complexities of ethical and moral issues. Patricia Parker comments that "[Wilson's] Rule of Reason and texts like it link the control of reason, logic, logos itself, to the disciplining of the 'errour' and potentially subversive 'doubtfulness' of words, and both to the maintainance of order in language and society" ( Literary Fat Ladies , 102).

23. "This is it, Adam, that grieves me, and the spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude" ( As You Like It 1.1.21-24).

24. Charles says, "There's no news at the court, sir, but the old news: that is, the old Duke is banished by his younger brother the new Duke" ( As You Like It 1.1.97-100). Celia's comment occurs at 1.3.71.

25. Rosalind controls the timing of her discovery as a woman, which she has no reason to delay once within the forest except to achieve what Michel de Certeau called the tactical advantage of the less powerful to manipulate time or, in Ricoeur's terms, to tell her story. Like the dances that symbolize social harmony in Shakespeare's comedies, Rosalind uses the rhythmic chants by Silvius, Phebe, and Orlando to settle the social order of the play to her own advantage ( As You Like It 5.2.79-124). When Rosalind delivers the epilogue of the play, her role as the play's narrator culminates her control of time and displays her eloquent civility.

26. For printed English romances reasonably available to Shakespeare, see Ronald S. Crane, The Vogue of Medieval Chivalric Romance During the English Renaissance (Menasha, Wis.: George Banta Publishing Company, 1919).

27. See Richard II 5.4.119. The theme of French "custom" as the feminized, colonized Other is implicit in Juliet Fleming's " The French Garden: An Introduction to Women's French," ELH 56 (1989): 19-51 ("To learn French was then to show interest in a nation and a tongue readily associated with impropriety").

28. R. M. Frye, The Renaissance Hamlet: Issues and Responses in 1600 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 338 n. 110.

29. The resistance to customs that Hamlet faces also gives depth to Shakespeare's Winter's Tale . The play is about what happens when the old ways no longer work. The action begins with Leontes' spectacular onset of jealousy, when he suddenly reinterprets Hermione's hospitable gestures to Polixenes as signs of adultery. His friend Polixenes suspects something is wrong when Leontes fails to respond to his "customary compliment" ( Winter's Tale 1.2.371). The dilemma of Camillo and Antigonus then shows how changing social circumstances call modes of behavior into question, creating a situation where there are no correct rules. For example, Antigonus agrees to Leontes' demand that he carry Perdita to a distant place, but he dies for his loyalty, pursued by a bear. Camillo, in contrast, temporizes before Leontes' threats. He gropes for a new code of social behavior, but ultimately remains trapped in a system of courtly allegiance. He switches masters, not values, and flees to Bohemia.

Meanwhile, after breaking down Leontes emotionally, Paulina extracts his promise never to marry without her permission. When she makes Hermione's statue descend from her pedestal of sixteen years, she creates the illusion of overcoming time and death. Hermione's statue ages because the art of Julio Romano "would beguile Nature of her custom" ( Winter's Tale 5.2.99). Like the custom that became the basis of the common law, Hermione is always ancient, yet always up to date, tam antiqua tam nova . The ambiguous quality of custom, which solved the problem of how to accommodate change without loss of authority for legal theorists, also restores the dead queen to life.

30. Fredson Bowers, "Shakespeare's Dramatic Vagueness," in Hamlet as Minister and Scourge (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989), 80-89, 80.

31. Maynard Mack remarks, "In the last act of the play (or so it seems to me, for I know there can be differences on this point), Hamlet accepts his world and we discover a different man" ("The Readiness is All: Hamlet, " in Everybody's Shakespeare [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993], 107-127, 124).

32. G. K. Hunter, "The Heroism of Hamlet," in Dramatic Identities and Cultural Tradition: Studies in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1978), 230-250, 247.

33. Harry Levin, Shakespeare and the Revolution of the Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 48.

Chapter Seven Macbeth's Future: "A Thing of Custom"

1. David Bevington, discussing the play New Customs (ca. 1563), notes that Protestantism "must be seen not as revolutionary but as 'primitive constitution,' the restored church of Christ's first apostles. 'New Custom' is actually a pejorative term, foisted on the elect by those who would claim antiquity for themselves. . . . [T]he play castigates the reactionary habit of doing 'as thy fathers have doone before thee'" ( Tudor Drama and Politics [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968], 130-131).

2. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution , 36.

3. Spenser believed English customs derived from the Norman yoke, thereby excusing the imposition of English customs on Ireland; see Diane Parkin-Speer, "Allegorical Legal Trials in Spenser's The Faerie Queene," Sixteenth Century Journal 23 (1992): 494-505. Coke argued furiously that the Norman invasion was not a conquest, but a restoration of William's "pretended" legal title against Harold, just as he argues that the Grand Customary of Normandy derived from earlier English law, and so was not its source (Edward Coke, Argumentum Anti-Normanicum [1682], v, cxviii). Later Coke cites Fortescue's De Politica administratione & Legibus Civilibus libus florentissimi Regni Angliae Commentarius to the effect that "the self same Customs that it is now governed withal" have obtained since the Romans ruled, ''which if they had not been right good, some of these Kings, moved either with Justice, or with Reason or Affection, would have changed them, or else altogether abolish [ sic ] them" ( Le Size Part des Reports [London, 1697], fol. A2 v ).

4. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution , 32, citing Fortescue, De laudibus legum Angliae , chap. 17.

5. "James favored Roman law against the pretensions of the common law tradition that supported Parliament, and Roman law underlay the civil law, church law—and Scottish law. In his Star Chamber speech of 1616, he was at pains to distinguish civil and canon law from the common law, and to insist that it keep its place and not encroach on the royal prerogative" (Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature [Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983], 47, citing Leah Marcus, "Masquing Occasions and Masque Structure," Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 24 [1981]: 7-16, and David Harris Willson, King James VI and I [New York: Oxford University Press, 1956], 257ff.).

6. See André Chastel, The Sack of Rome , 1527.

7. See Anne Lancashire, "The Emblematic Castle," in Minor Up to Shakespeare: Essays in Honour of G. R. Hibbard , ed. J. C. Gray (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 223-241. She cites John B. Barcourt, "I Pray You, Remember the Porter," Shakespeare Quarterly 12 (1961): 393-402; Paul A. Jorgensen, Our Naked Frailties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); Glynne Wickham, "Hell-Castle and Its Door-Keeper," Shakespeare Survey 19 (1966): 68-74; John Doebler, Shakespeare's Speaking Pictures (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974), 132-137. See also Edgar Schell, Strangers and Pilgrims: From "The Castle of Perseverance" to ''King Lear " (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), and the index to large numbers of castles, both realistic and emblematic, found in medieval and Renaissance drama and pageantry in Ian Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: A Chronological Topography to 1558 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983).

8. Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics , 35.

9. In addition to having the social significance traced here, the castle was, of course, often an image of the soul. According to James Nohrnberg, "The interiority of the Castle might be taken as a kind of paradigm for all enclosed spaces in the poem that stand for something inviolate in experience. It is a castle belonging to a virgin (Hebrew almah ), but it is also a virgin castle, like the 'castellum' of Martha and Mary, which, because Christ entered there, is a part of the homily for the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. (Such a castle appears in the Digby play of Mary Magdalene , and is attacked by the seven deadly sins)" ( The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene, " 328).

10. T. S. Eliot, "Dante," in Selected Essays (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, n.d.), 203.

11. My student Paula von Loewenfeldt points out to me that Akira Kurosawa's 1957 version of Macbeth , where castles figure prominently as sites of civility and intrigue, is rifled not Throne of Blood but Kumonosu-jo (Castle of the Spider's Web).

12. Harry Berger, Jr., "The Early Scenes of Macbeth : Preface to a New Interpretation," ELH 47 (1980): 1-31, 29.

13. Berger argues that Scotland was no harmonious state under Duncan and that "the killing of the king may be a recurrent feature of the political process by which the kingdom periodically rids itself of the poison accumulating within it as a result of normal institutional functions ("The Early Scenes," 25). G. M. Trevelyan finds a similar pattern in history: when Mary Stuart mar-

ried Bothwell, Darnley's murderer, "her subjects supposed her precognizant of the deed. True, assassination was still a custom of the country. Knox had not disapproved the slaughter of Cardinal Beaton, and Darnley had conducted the tragedy of Rizzio. But people had a prejudice against the killing of husbands by their wives" ( A Shortened History of England [1942; New York: Longmans, 1951], 226).

14. Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland , 6 vols. (1808; New York: AMS, 1965), 5:269. Shakespeare realized he was using a conflation of sources molded to the Protestant Tudor position, according to David Nor-brook, " Macbeth and the Politics of Historiography," in Stephen Zwicker and Kevin Sharpe, eds., Politics of Discourse: The Literature and History of Seventh-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 78-116.

15. See, for example, Erich Köhler, "Le rôle de la 'coutume' dans les romans de Chrétiens de Troyes," Romania 81 (1960): 386-397.

16. David Quint, Epic and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 260.

17. For Brutus, see Julius Caesar , 3.2.45 ("I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death"); compare Othello 1.3.294 ("My life upon her faith!").

18. Huntington Cairns notes, "In the Case of Tanistry , decided in 1608, the common law tests of custom were applied to the Irish Brehon law of succession. Although the existence of the custom could not be denied, the judges with the aid of the tests were able to pronounce illegal the native tenures of land" ( Legal Philosophy from Plato to Hegel [Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1949], 221-222). The Case of Tanistry was reported by Sir John Davies.

19. Holinshed's Chronicles , 5:269.

20. Ibid., 5:271.

21. William Empson saw the temporal ambiguity of this passage, "where gentle might just as well be, and suggests, 'ungentle,' because the weal is conceived as 'ungentle' before it was purged and gentle afterwards" ( Seven Types of Ambiguity [1930; London: Chatto and Windus, 1963], 203).

22. Holinshed's Chronicles , 5:271.

23. Ibid., 5:274.

24. Shakespeare had a fondness for ambiguous prophecies, easily created in Latin, where the infinitive takes the object case: "Aio te, Aecida, Romanos vincere posse," quips York, when Margery Jordan's spirits announce that Suffolk

will die by "water" (a sailor named Walter kills him) and Somerset should "shun castles" ( 2 Henry VI 1.4).

25. The play is a moral spectacle, R. S. Crane wrote, because Macbeth acts in full knowledge of the moral character of what he does. It is the story of "a man, not naturally depraved, who has fallen under the compulsive power of an imagined better state for himself which he can attain only by acting contrary to his normal habits and feelings" ( The Languages of Criticism and the Structure of Poetry [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953], 171-172).

26. Anthony Munday, trans., Palmerin d'Oliva: The Mirrour of Nobilitie (London, 1615), chap. 47. I have modernized the spelling.

27. Lewes Lavater, Of Ghostes and Spirites Walking by Nyght (1572), ed. J. Dover Wilson and May Yardley (Oxford: At the University Press, 1929), 91. I have modernized the text.

Chapter Eight Epilogue: The Disappearing Castle

1. Georges Duby, France in the Middle Ages (1987; Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 56.

2. The rise of Arthurian romance coincided with the Norman hegemony in Great Britain. Geoffrey of Monmouth, who essentially invented King Arthur so that the Normans could claim to be restoring old ways that the intervening Angles and Saxons had usurped, wrote of fortresses in his Historia Regum Britanniae (ca. 1135). Wace, however, substituted castles when he translated Geoffrey's Latin into French verse a generation later, as well as highlighting some evil customs ( Roman de Brut , in Wace and Layamon, Arthurian Chronicles [New York: Dutton, 1976], 3, 7, 10, 15, etc.)

3. N. J. G. Pounds, The Medieval Castle in England and Wales: A Social and Political History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 96-101.

4. Pounds, The Medieval Castle , 256. See also Michael W. Thompson, The Decline of the Castle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

5. Pounds, The Medieval Castle , 249.

6. J. R. Lander, Conflict and Stability in Fifteenth-Century England (London: Hutchinson, 1969), 164.

7. Pounds, The Medieval Castle , 297.

8. Michael W. Thompson notes, "For three centuries the castle had been a grim but serviceable structure with unpleasant associations. In the late four-

teenth century it seemed to reveal how nice it could look" ( The Rise of the Castle [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991], 178).

9. David Aers, Community, Gender, and Individual Identity: English Writing, 1360-1430 (New York: Routledge, 1988), 155.

10. Ibid., 161.

11. Compare Sir Thomas Elyot's The Castel of Helth (1539), cited in A. C. Hamilton, ed., Spenser: The Faerie Queene , 124.

12. Hamilton, ed., Spenser: The Faerie Queene , 742.

13. Eneas: A Twelfth-Century French Romance , trans. John A. Yunck (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), 198.

14. C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), 391.

15. Coleridge is cited in the notes to FQ 4.5 in Spenser, Works: A Variorum Edition , vol. 5, 198.

16. Phillip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry or The Defence of Poesy , ed. Geoffrey Shepherd (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1965), 101, 158 n. 8. See also the Oxford English Dictionary , s.v. "castle," 12.

17. Richard II 3.1 (Bristol), 3.2 (Barkloughly), 3.3 (Flint), 3.2.210 ("pine away"), 3.3.148 ("gorgeous palace"). Sidney gives a "gorgeous palace'' as an example of something that must be modeled or pictured, not just declared, to make known its "inward conceit" for a "judicial comprehending" ( Defense 107). Cf. The Tempest 4.1.152. The word palace derived from Palatinum, one of the hills of Rome, and in sixteenth-century English usage almost exclusively denoted a royal palace in a town, as Joseph Rykwert notes ("The Palace and the City," Times Literary Supplement , 13 September 1991, 17).

18. Northrop Frye observes that "when Northumberland reports Bolingbroke's wish for Richard to come down and parley with him in the 'base court' (the basse cour or lower courtyard of Flint Castle)," the symbolism of the whole operation flashes at once through Richard's mind: "Base court, where kings grow base" ( Richard II 3.3.180) ( On Shakespeare [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986], 65).

19. See 2 Henry IV IV, Epilogue, 30-32.

20. John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe , 8 vols. (New York: AMS, 1965), 3:709, 712.

21. As David Riggs notes, 1 Henry VI is "an extended comparatio between English chivalry, as it is represented by Talbot, Bedford, and Salisbury, and the

mock-heroic pretensions of Joan la Pucelle and the French peers. . . . Although Talbot does fight to maintain his personal honor, that honor is systematically contrasted to the wholesale disregard for feudal convention that characterizes the French 'revolt'" ( Shakespeare's Heroical Histories: Henry VI and Its Literary Tradition [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971], 83).

22. Ibid., 102.

23. The Duke of Somerset, "who long before was warned to eschew all Castles," dies under the alehouse sign of the castle in Edward Hall's Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke (1548); see Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare , 3:124.

24. I have been unable to trace the reference. But Lewis may have had in mind Thomas More's observation that travelers easily discover man-eaters and monsters, "but it is not so easy to find good citizens and wise governments" ( Utopia , trans. and ed. Adams, 8), or the medieval Aeneas, who expresses his disappointment at the backwardness of Italy: "I do not know if there is any grain or castle or city; I have seen nothing wilder. If we find no provisions here, we have no reason to stay" ( Eneas: A Twelfth-Century French Romance , 62).

25. The "Diario" of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493: Abstracted by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas , ed. Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelley, Jr. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989), 58-63.

26. A word for "temple" picked up by the Spanish in the Antilles.

27. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico , trans. A. P. Maudslay (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1956), 190-191.

28. Murrin, The Allegorical Epic , 138-139.

29. Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 132.

30. In a book deeply indebted to Stephen Greenblatt's idea of improvisation in Renaissance Self-Fashioning , Tzvetan Todorov has pointed out that for one who is truly unsympathetic to a foreign culture, it makes no difference whether one recoils from its horrors or openly embraces its values because one sees them as similar to one's own. Either reaction is ethnocentric; see Tzvetan Todorov's The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other (New York: Harper and Row, 1984).

31. Díaz del Castillo, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico , 191.

32. Ibid., 205.

33. See Kate Ferguson Ellis, The Contested Castle: Gothic Novels and the Subversion of Domestic Ideology (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989).

34. Thomas Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness , xvi, in Elizabethan Plays , ed. Arthur C. Nethercot (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), 840.

35. The shift is part of the transition from medieval to modern England. Lawrence Stone ascribes a crisis of the hereditary elite to the period of 1580-1620. Armed retainers are replaced by coach and footmen, private castles by private houses; North and West are nationalized and their violence subdued; abstract liberty and public interest give way to particular liberties and ancient customs; radical Protestantism elevates individual conscience over the claims of obedience to family, church, nation; noblemen turn to books, and for the first time in history, the "intelligentsia" became a branch of the propertied classes ( The Crisis of the Aristocracy [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965], 15).


1. Cited by John Danby, Shakespeare's Doctrine of Nature: A Study of King Lear (London: Faber and Faber, 1949), 30.

2. R. A. Foakes, Hamlet versus King Lear: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare's Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 181.


1. Iago first seizes on Cassio as fit for his purpose because the Florentine's "manners" (Othello 2.1.98) make him familiar with women; the situation prefigures Leontes' suspicion of his wife's conversation with Polixenes in The Winter's Tale . That the social custom of drinking undoes Cassio echoes Plato's Laws (I.639), where convivial drinking is regarded as an important social custom.

2. Lynda E. Boose, "Othello's Handkerchief: 'The Recognizance and Pledge of Love,'" English Literary Renaissance 5 (1975): 360-374, 361.

3. Carol Neely Thomas, Broken Nuptials in Shakespeare's Plays (1985; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 129.

4. For the weaving of fictions, see Catherine Bates, "Weaving and Writing in Othello," Shakespeare Survey 46 (1994): 51-60, 51, citing Renaissance Self-Fashioning , 236-237.

5. Marguerite Waller, "Academic Tootsie: The Denial of Difference and the Difference It Makes," Diacritics 17 (1987): 2-20, 18.



acquiescence, 59 , 67 , 69 , 73 ;

and tactics, 80

Aeneas, 103 , 192 n. 24

Aers, David, 131

Agwisance, King, of Ireland (in MD ), 22

Alberti, Leon Battista, 178 n. 20

Alcidale, Mount (in FQ ), 96

Alfonso I d'Este (duke of Ferrara), 62 , 75 , 77

Alfonso II d'Este (duke of Ferrara), 110

allegory: commonplace nature of moral, 6 ;

of constraints of social ideology, 25 ;

of custom, 177 n. 6;

in Dante, 120 ;

of discord, 171 n. 25;

interpretation of, 5 , 84 ;

of love, 17 , 33 , 40 , 51 , 53 , 91 , 133 , 153 n. 21, 162 n. 23, 169 n. 20;

of marriage, 5 , 17 , 146 n. 6;

of social change, 24 , 187 n. 3

Amadis of Gaul , 112 , 139

Andreas Capellanus, 15

Andrewes, Lancelot, 110

Angelica: in OF , 157 n. 38;

in OI , 40 , 42 -43, 52 -53, 56 , 160 n. 12, 171 n.25

Antaeus, 54

anthropology, xv , 25 -26, 40 , 53 , 109 , 155 n. 30, 165 n. 3, 181 n. 8

anxiety, produced by social manners, 16

Apuleius (The Golden Ass ), 160 n. 12

Aquinas, Thomas, 7 , 114

Ariosto, Ludovico, xiii -xv, 58 -80;

and Cinque Canti , 171 n. 25;

"custom of the castle" (in OF ), xv , 57 , 62 , 67 , 168 n. 20;

and Orlando Furioso , 16 , 57 , 61 , 104 , 112 , 157 n. 38, 160 n. 16;

personality of, 60 , 63 , 76 , 78 ;

Satires , 60 -61

Aristotle, 114 ;

and natural law, 7 ;

Poetics , 14 ;

tragedy, definition of, 119

Artegall, Sir (in FQ ), 62 , 85 -86, 132 -133, 175 n. 3

Arthur, King, 9 , 23 , 34 , 99 , 190 n. 2;

and chivalry, 131 ;

his court's values, xiv ;

his father's custom, 6 ;

as Prince Arthur in FQ , 85 , 98 -103, 175 n. 3, 180 nn. 32,33,34;

and Round Table, 18 ;

and royal power, 146 n. 6;

and wheel of fortune, 33

Ascoli, Albert, 77 , 166 n. 7, 174 n. 49

asteismus , 98 , 103

Atreus, House of, 45

Auerbach, Erich (Mimesis ), 36

Augustine, Saint, 111

Avery, Bruce, 180 n. 30



Bacon, Francis, 13 , 95 , 96 , 182 n. 8;

and Statute of Uses, 175 n. 3

Balin, Sir (in MD ), 24

Barcourt, John B., 188 n. 7

Baron, Hans, 54

Bateson, Mary, 152 n. 11

Baumgartner, Emmanuèle, 19 , 156 n. 31

beauty contest, 9 -11, 26 , 28 , 59 , 65 , 67 , 69 , 155 n. 29, 156 n. 38. See also custom, foul; women

Bedevere, Sir (in MD ), 33 -34

Belsey, Catherine, 162 n. 27

Benson, Larry, 25 , 154 n. 22, 170 n. 23

Benson, Pamela, 166 n. 8

Benucci Strozzi, Alessandra, 61 -62, 170 n. 23

Berger, Harry, 120 , 176 n. 4, 188 n. 13

Bevington, David, 118 -119, 187 n. 1

Bevis of Hampton , 112

Bibbiena, Cardinal (Bernardo Dovizi), 61

Bigi, Emilio, 62

Binni, Walter, 77

Blancheflor (in Chrétien's Perceval ), 6

Blattant Beast (in FQ ), 16 , 83 -85, 90 , 92 , 98 , 179 n. 27;

endless pursuit of, 83 -84, 88

Bloch, Marc, 148 n. 13

Bloch, R. Howard, 157 n. 38

Boccaccio, Giovanni, 15 , 44 ;

Filocolo , 110

Boiardo, Matteo Maria, xiii -xv, 39 -57, 73 ;

and Amorum Libri , 53 ;

aristocratic values of, 54 ;

humanism of, 52 ;

history, attitude toward, 56 ;

and Orlando Innamorato , 16 , 39 , 56 , 64 , 89 , 172 n. 33;

as translator, 45 , 55

Boose, Lynda, 114

borough customs, 22

Borso d'Este (duke of Ferrara), 55

Bowers, Fredson, 115

Bradamante (in OF ), 59 , 60 , 63 -64, 66 -69, 73 -74, 77 -79, 112 , 143

Breunor, Sir (in MD ), 19 , 25 - 28, 36

Britomart (in FQ ), 79 -80, 112 , 133 , 143 , 177 n. 15, 178 n. 18;

as knight of chastity, 168 n. 20

Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn, 150 n. 36

Brundage, James, 170 n. 23

Brunor, Sir (in T ), 27

Bullough, Geoffrey, 192 n. 23

Burckhardt, Jacob, 59 , 79 , 166 n. 5

Burghley, Lord (Robert Cecil), 97 -98

Burke, Edmund, 117

Burke, Kenneth, 177 n. 11

Busirane (in FQ ), 91


Cairns, Huntington, 189 n. 13

Calepine, Sir (in FQ ), 85 , 90 -92, 96 , 98 -100, 178 nn. 18,20, 180 n. 34

Calidor, Sir (in FQ ), xv , 83 -90, 94 , 96 , 98 -99, 176 n. 4

Callicles (in Plato's Gorgias ), 4 , 10

Calogrenant (in Y ), 5

Calvin, Jean, 13 , 181 n. 8, 182 n. 8

Camelot, 22

Caradoc, King (in L ), 160 n. 12

Carman, J. Neale, 163 n. 31

Castelnuovo (town in Italy), 61 -62

Castiglione, Baldassare, 59 , 75

Castle of Perseverance , 118

castles: "in the air," 133 ;

disappearing, 116 , 130 -142;

exorcism of, 118 , 127 ;

haunted, 5 , 121 , 127 , 129 ;

as hell, 146 n. 5;

historical rise and decline of, 15 , 130 -131, 133 ;

and inns, xvi , 136 , 138 ;

in FQ , 132 , 138 ;

as metaphor of the soul, 188 n. 9;

as psychic projections, 132 ;

Shakespeare's use of word, 133 -138;

as sign of dominion, 133 ;

"sign of the," 138 , 192 n. 23;

symbolism of, 32 , 71 , 88 , 90 , 93 , 118 , 125 , 127 -128, 130 -132, 134 , 138 , 143 , 156 n. 38, 158 n. 38, 188 n. 7

castles, named: Agincourt, 136 ;

Beaure-paire, 6 ;

Berkeley Castle, 133 -135;

Castle Cruel, xiv , 39 -57, 73 ;

Castle of Couples (unnamed in FQ 4.1), 63 , 66 , 79 , 171 n. 24, 176 n. 4;

Castle of Maidens, 25 , 102 , 146 n. 5;

Casde of


Most Ill Adventure (Pesme Aventure), 5 , 17 , 147 n. 6;

Castle of Pendragon, 105 ;

Castle of Tears (Chastel de Plors in T ), 59 , 158 n. 38 (see also Weeping Castle);

Castle Orgulous, 24 ;

Crudor's and Briana's Castle (FQ ), 85 -89, 171 n. 24, 176 n. 4;

Cyprus (in Othello ), 143 ;

Dolorous Chartre (Dolorous Tower), 155 n. 29, 160 n. 12;

Dolorous Guard, 153 n. 21, 155 n. 29;

Dunsinane, 125 -129;

Escalon le Tenebros, 155 n. 29;

Estroite Marche, 146 n. 6, 155 n. 29;

Forres, 123 -125;

Gloucester's Castle, 142 ;

House of Care (FQ ), 133 ;

Inverness, 119 -123;

Joyous Guard, 51 -52, 155 n. 29, 163 n. 31;

Malbecco's Castle (FQ ), 178 n. 18;

Malecasta's Castle Joyous (FQ ), 91 , 171 n. 24, 174 n. 59, 175 n. 4, 177 -178n. 15;

Munera's Castle, 171 n. 24;

Palazo Zoioso (OI ), 52 , 175 n. 4;

Passaige Perilleux, 72 ;

Pesme Aventure, 5 , 17 , 169 n. 20 (see also Castle of Most Ill Adventure);

Pintaduel, 155 n. 29;

Pollente's bridge (FQ ), 84 , 175 n. 3;

Pollente's Castle (FQ ), 159 n. 10;

Sir Turpine's Castle of the Ford (FQ ), 84 , 91 -93, 99 , 101 -103, 171 n. 24, 175 n. 4;

Tower of London, 136 ;

Tower of Tristan (Rocca di Tristano ), xv , 58 -80, 104 , 143 ;

Weeping Castle, xiv , 10 , 16 -17, 18 -36, 71 , 105

Catalano, Michele, 63 , 167 n. 19, 170 n. 23

Cavallo, Jo Ann, 43 -44, 53 , 161 n. 18

Cavell, Stanley, 105

Caxton, William, 19 , 34 -35, 154 n. 28

Cerberus, 42

Certeau, Michel de, 74 , 80 , 185 n. 25

Chambers, E. K., 36

Charlemagne, 74

Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor), 75

Chartres, school of, 146 n. 5

Chastel, André, 118 , 173 nn. 44,45, 187 n. 6

chivalry, 131 , 136 ;

and good customs, 129 , 169 n. 20;

and Hotspur, 135 ;

and individual prowess, 16 ;

means for reforming foul customs, 20 (see also customs, foul: reformation of);

and natural law, 24 ;

represented by Tristram, 32 ;

as spiritual condition, 34

Chrétien de Troyes, xv , 11 , 17 , 122 , 147 n. 6, 147 n. 7;

and chivalric romance, xiv ;

and oral law, 15 ;

originator of custom of the castle topos, xiii , 10 ;

patrons of, 23

Chrétien de Troyes, works of: Erec and Enide , 6 , 148 n. 9, 154 n. 22;

The Knight of the Cart (Le Chevalier de la charrete ), 153 n. 21;

Perceval (Le Conte du Graal ), 169 ;

Yvain (Le Chevalier au Lion ), 5 -7, 30 , 156 n. 34, 169 n. 20

Cicero: De Inventione , 149 n. 24;

De Legibus , 39 -40, 56

civil law, and Ariosto, xv , 60 , 118 , 168 n. 20

civility, 106 , 112 , 129 , 140 ;

and custom of the castle, xiii , xv -xvi, 16 ;

definition, problem of, 110 , 116 ;

and eloquence, 31 , 52 , 69 , 80 , 89 , 101 ;

non-imitative representation of, 85 , 95 -96, 178 n. 27;

and repression, 128 ;

and sexual aggression, 178 n. 15;

spatial definition of, 178 n. 22;

uneasiness of, 87

Clamadeu (in Perceval ), 6

Clodione (in OF ), 69 -71, 73 , 157 n. 38

Coke, Sir Edward, 117 , 178 n. 16, 187 n. 3

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 133

Colin Clout (in FQ ), 96 , 179 n. 27

colonialism, xv , 32 , 54 , 85 , 88 , 93 , 138

Columbus, Christopher, 138

conquistadors, 56 , 138 -140

Cornelius, Roberta Douglas, 150 n. 36

Cortés, Hernán, 138 -140

courtesy, 83 -103;

contest of, 30 , 84 , 102 , 140 , 143 , 156 n. 34 (see also romance: contest of courtesy)

courtly love, 45 , 157 n. 38


Crane, R. S., 126 , 185 n. 26, 190 n. 25

Culp, Dorothy Woodward, 176 n. 4

custom, xv , 3 , 12 -13, 15 -16, 20 , 74 , 94 , 109 , 114 , 147 n. 9;

always old and always new, 21 , 110 -111, 117 , 170 n. 20, 186 n. 29;

arbitrariness of, 89 -90, 106 , 109 , 114 , 116 , 175 n. 3;

of assassination, 188 -189n. 13;

and authority of the past, 10 , 16 , 110 ;

and change, 7 ;

and discourse of chivalry, 29 , 35 ;

of drinking, 107 , 109 , 143 , 160 n. 16, 193 n. 1;

in Hamlet , 107 -109;

on hats, 109 -110;

idealization of, 22 , 60 , 77 , 84 -85, 109 ;

and ideology and social control, 8 , 13 , 96 , 109 ;

immemorial, 7 , 21 , 117 ;

as justification for behavior, 4 ;

of kissing, 94 -95, 113 ;

local, 9 ;

of London, 181 n. 4;

and moral knowledge, 11 , 26 -27, 69 ;

"mortal," 126 ;

narrative and dramatic use of, 14 ;

and natural law, 7 ;

oral and written, 15 , 21 -22, 26 , 168 n. 20;

as pedagogy, 95 , 112 , 114 ;

and reason, 14 ;

reformation of, 16 , 36 , 88 , 89 , 102 -103, 108 , 116 , 184 n. 19;

and relativity of truth, 182 -183n. 3;

as rhetorical topic, 111 ;

in Roman law,

Shakespeare's first use of word, 113 ;

in Spenser's View , 180 n. 32;

of succession, 123 , 128 ;

"a thing of," 124 ;

vagueness of, 97 , 115 .

See also custom of the castle; customary law; vagueness

custom, foul, xiv , 5 , 15 , 28 , 31 , 35 , 86 -87, 91 , 104 , 136 , 168 n. 20;

against chivalry, 20 ;

despised and defended by Tristram, 25 ;

"fordoing," 16 ;

maintenance by fair means, 19 , 139 ;

monster of, 52 -53;

as oxymoron, 24 ;

perpetuation of, 9 ;

as recent innovation, 148 n. 13;

reflecting misfortunes of lovers, 153 n. 21;

reformation of, 40 , 52 , 84 , 90 , 101 , 103 , 113 , 117 , 120 -128, 148 ;

and "rotten Privilege," 181 n. 4;

self-sustaining, 28 ;

and slavery, 139 .

See also beauty contest; jousting

custom of the castle, xiv , 16 -17, 19 -20, 32 , 40 , 67 -68, 172 n. 33;

allegory of social change, 24 ;

in Amadis of Gaul , 112 , 139 ;

artistic consistency of, 15 ;

conforming power of and constraints imposed by, 6 , 20 , 25 , 27 -29, 31 , 66 , 74 , 102 ;

criticism and literary history of xiii , xv , 24 -25, 59 , 84 , 154 n. 22, 175 -176n. 4;

defamiliarizing social practice, 11 ;

defined, 10 , 11 , 78 , 90 , 106 , 116 ;

elements of, 10 , 15 , 99 , 113 , 136 ;

ethical function of, 9 -10;

fictional origins told of, 8 , 27 , 41 , 67 , 70 , 72 , 74 , 99 , 136 ;

in FQ (other examples), 84 , 91 , 159 n. 10, 171 n. 24, 174 n. 59;

and ghost fear, 104 , 106 ;

keeper of, 19 -20, 28 , 64 , 73 , 113 , 121 , 124 , 128 , 137 , 139 , 176 n. 4;

and moral knowledge, xiv -xv, 5 , 85 , 89 ;

in MD (other examples), 24 , 101 -102, 105 ;

and narrative, 11 , 90 , 94 -95;

and property redistribution, 6 , 125 , 147 n. 6;

and public opinion, 100 , 103 ;

and Shakespeare's imagery, 113 , 119 , 141 ;

and time, 8 , 17 ;

in prose Tristan , 105 ;

Tristram's freedom and, 31

customary law, 7 , 21 , 39 , 116 ;

defined by Thomas Wilson, 12 ;

dependence on will of the people, 9 ;

from history, 7 ;

moral arguments as basis for, 21 ;

versus positive law, 21 ;

and use of the past to justify the future, 118 .

See also custom

customs, named: Custom of the Boiling Spring (Y ), 147 n. 6;

Custom of the White Stag (Erec ), 6 , 147 n. 9;

Joy of the Court (Erec ), 148 , 154 n. 22


Danby, John, 141

Daniel, Samuel, 13 , 150 n. 31

Daniélou, Jean, 145 n. 4


Dante Alighieri, 53 ;

allegorical style of, 119 ;

Convivio , 73 ;

Inferno , 42 , 52 , 55

Delice (in T ), 29

Della Casa, Giovanni, 176 n. 4, 183 n. 10, 184 n. 12

demons, 6 , 169 n. 20

Derrida, Jacques, 95

Descartes, René, 95 -96

descriptive ethics, 27 , 155 n. 30

detraction, 16 , 84 , 93 , 101 , 103

Dialetes (in T ), and custom of the Castle of Tears, 8 -9, 27 , 33 , 36 , 72 , 136 . See also castles, named: Weeping Castle; Tristan , prose version

Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, 138 -139

Dinadan, Sir (in MD ), 102 . See also Dynadans

Dollimore, Jonathan, 109 , 162 -163n. 27, 181 -183n. 8

Don Quixote, xvi . See also inns

Dowling, William C., 150 n. 28

Duby, Georges, 130 , 159 n. 9

Dynadans (in T ), 104 -105, 153 n. 21. See also Dinadan, Sir


Eagleton, Terry, 105

Ebuda (in OF ), 57

Eleanor of Aquitaine, 23

Eliot, T. S., 119

Ellis, Kate Ferguson, 192 n. 33

Elyot, Sir Thomas, 191 n. 11

Empson, William, 189 n. 21

enclosures, 184 n. 19

Eneas, Roman d ', 132 , 192 n. 24

English Historical Documents , 148 n. 12, 152 n. 11

Erasmus, Desiderius, 75 , 95 , 114 ;

Ciceronianus , 75

Ercole d'Este (duke of Ferrara), 55

Eurynome (in FQ ), 96


Falstaff, Sir John, 135 -136

Fantino, Benedetto, 61

Feinstein, Wiley, 167 n. 10

Fieramont (Pharamond), 70 , 74

Finucci, Valeria, 165 n. 49, 166 -167n. 8

Fleming, Juliet, 185 n. 27

Foakes, R. A., 142

Forres, 123 -125

Fortescue, Sir John, 20 -21, 168 n. 20, 187 nn. 3,4

Foucault, Michel, 78

Foxe, John (Book of Martyrs ), 136 -137

Francescetti, Antonio, 164 n. 39, 165 n. 48

fraud, 159 n. 10

Frye, Northrop, 25 , 35 , 171 n. 24, 191 n. 18

Frye, Roland M., 114 , 186 n. 28

Fulgentius, 53

Fusberta (Ranaldo's sword in OI ), 42 , 45


Galahad (in MD ), 35 , 102

Galahalt (in MD ), 20 , 28 -32, 105

Galehaut (in T ), 29 -30, 156 nn. 36,37

Garfagnana (Italy), 61 -62

garlands, 94 . See also custom: on hats

Gatti, Hilary, 105

Gawain: in L , 160 n. 12;

in MD , 30 , 33 , 35

Gawain and the Green Knight , 131

Geertz, Clifford, 40 , 48 , 52 , 56

Geoffrey of Monmouth, 190 n. 2

ghost fear, xvi ;

and authority of custom, 104 , 144

Giamatti, A. Bartlett, 174 n. 54

Girard, René, 43

Goldberg, Jonathan, 187 n. 5

Gorgias , 11

Greenblatt, Stephen, 45 , 93 , 139 , 164 n. 39

Greene, Thomas M., 151 n. 36

Grifone of Altaripa (in OI ), 41 -42, 45 , 48 , 73

Guenevere, 100 , 155 n. 29, 163 n. 31

Guicciardini, Francesco, 76

gunpowder, 131 , 136

Gurr, Andrew, 183 n. 11

Gyron le Courtoys , 71 -73



habit, 95 , 115

Hall, Edward, 192 n. 23

Hamilton, A. C., 84 , 86

Harding, Alan, 13

Harington, Sir John, 112

Hauvette, Henry, 171 n. 25

Heal, Felicity, 177 n. 14

Hector (in L ), 146 n. 6

Helen of Troy, 47

Helgerson, Richard, 105 n. 31

hell, harrowing of, 118

Hellenore (in FQ ), 91

Henry VIII, King, 131

Herodotus, 45 , 47 , 55

Heywood, Thomas, 140

historical materialism, 182 n. 8

history: and Boiardo, 55 ;

and instability of moral imagination, 40

Holinshed, Raphael, 123 -124, 126

Homer (Odyssey ), 161 n. 20

Hooker, Richard, 141

hospitality, denied, 42 , 71 , 100 , 105 -106, 139 , 150 n. 36

Hotspur, 134 -135

Hugh of Lusignan, 159 n. 9

Huizinga, Johan, 58

humanism, 40 , 52 , 54 , 57

Hunter, G. K., 115

hysteron proteron , 94 , 98


identity, individual, 58 -59, 62

inns, xvi , 136 , 138

Inverness, 119 -123

Iphigenia, 14

Ippolito d'Este, Cardinal, 61

Ireland, 22 , 57 , 85 , 88 , 94 , 96 , 123 , 133 , 138 , 178 n. 16, 179 n. 22, 180 n. 32;

Munster settlement, 97 -98, 175 n. 3

Isabella (in OF ), 64

Isabella d'Este, 75

Iseult (in T ), 18 , 155 nn. 29

Isode (in MD ), 19 , 25 -26, 32 -33, 83 , 156 n. 38


Jacob, 5

James, King, 117 , 126

Jameson, Fredric, 11 , 90

Javitch, Daniel, 166 n. 7

Joan of Arc, 135

Jorgensen, Paul, 188 n. 7

Joseph of Arimathea, 8 -9, 71 -72

jousting: for lodging or passage, xiii , 9 , 15 , 19 , 26 -27, 29 , 59 , 64 -66, 72 , 79 -80, 86 , 91 -92, 100 , 104 -106, 153 n. 2, 175 n. 3. See also custom, foul

jurisdiction, 21 -23, 25 , 68 , 172 n. 29

jurisprudence, xiv

justice, xiii , 3 , 10 , 12 , 16 , 20 -21, 32 , 36 , 56 -57, 116 ;

joust as sign of, 175 n. 3;

legend of in FQ , 94 , 174 n.59;

and moral knowledge, 106 ;

nostalgia for in Macbeth , 120 , 124 , 128 -129;

sword of, 45 -46, 53 , 70 , 162 n. 26, 160 n. 17



Kant, Immanuel, 111

Kennedy, Beverly, 23

Kennedy, Elspeth, 156 n. 34

Kern, Fritz, 152 n. 9

Kernodle, G. R., 150 n. 36

Kilcolman (Spenser's Irish castle), xvi , 98

King of the Hundred Knights, 29 , 156 n. 37

knighthood, shifting meaning of, 15

Köhler, Erich, 122 , 147 n. 9, 158 n. 39, 189 n. 15

Krier, Theresa, 176 n. 4

Kurosawa, Akira, 188 n. 11


Ladd, John, 26

La Farge, Catherine, 156 n. 33

Lancashire, Anne, 188 n. 7

Lancashire, Ian, 188 n. 7

Lancelot (in MD ), 30 , 31 , 33 , 99 -100

Lancelot , Vulgate prose version, 35 , 146 n. 6, 153 n. 21,163n. 31;

and Dolorous Guard, 51 ;

major source of customs and castles, 155 n. 29

Lancelot do Lac , 146 n. 6

Lander, J. R., 151 n. 6, 190 n. 6


Lavatar, Lewes, 129

law: American, 21 , 172 n. 29;

Athenian, 45 ;

borough customs, 20 ;

change of venue, 23 ;

courts of the manor, 27 ;

and custom, 6 , 20 , 39 , 127 ;

under Edward I, 23 ;

under Edward IV, 24 ;

English common, 7 , 13 , 16 , 20 , 111 , 117 , 120 , 125 , 168 n. 20, 187 nn. 3,5;

French, 70 ;

habeas corpus, 22 ;

under Henry II, 23 ;

under Henry VI, 20 ;

under Henry VIII, 175 n. 3;

history of, 10 , 15 -16;

inconvenience of, 92 , 178 n. 16;

Irish Brehon, 189 n. 18;

Italian civil, 168 n. 20;

and jurisprudence, xiv ;

Pleas of the Crown, 23 ;

pun on seals, 175 n. 3;

Quia emptores , 23 ;

retribution and, 45 ;

Roman, 168 n. 20;

social contract, 31 -32;

Statute of Uses, 175 n. 3;

Statute of Winchester, 23 ;

and trial by combat, 22

Leah, 5

Leo X, Pope (Giovanni de' Medici), 61

Levin, Harry, 116

Lévi-Strauss, Claude, 23

Lewis, C. S., 79 , 132 , 138 , 151 n. 3

literacy, and oral discourse, 169

Locke, John, 31

Lodge, Thomas, 112

Loomis, Roger Sherman, 147 n. 8

Lord of Noire Espine (in Y ), 30

Lucan (Pharsalia ), 53 , 164 n. 38

Lull, Ramon, 35

Lumiansky, R. M., 152 n. 20, 158 n. 40

Luther, Martin, 75 , 114 è

Lyotard, Jean-Franois, 58


Macbeth, Lady, xvi , 120 -121, 124 , 126 -127

MacCarthy-Morrogh, Michael, 97

Machiavelli, Niccolò, 12 , 13 , 58 , 108 , 172 n. 30, 181 n. 8

Mack, Maynard, 186 n. 31

Maddox, Donald, 10 , 147 n. 7, 148 n. 9, 156 n. 34

Maitland, F. W., 152 n. 12

Malbecco (in FQ ), 91 , 176 n. 4, 178 n. 18

Malecasta (in FQ ), 91 , 176 n. 4, 177 -178n. 15

Malory, Sir Thomas: attitude to the past, 6 , 16 ;

date of composition of MD , 152 n. 16;

downplaying of adultery by, 19 ;

identity of, 33 ;

minimizing influence of Lancelot , 29 ;

and Morte Darthur ; xiii -xiv, 10 -11, 18 -36, 39 , 83 , 92 , 99 , 102 , 112 ;

personal voice of, 35 ;

prose style of, 18 -19, 26 , 29 -31, 33 , 104 , 154 n. 28, 155 n. 29, 155 n. 31, 156 -158n. 38;

as translator of French romance, 32

Marchino (in OI ), 40 -42, 43 , 45 -52, 73

Marchino's wife (in OI ), xiv , 40 -50, 160 n. 12

Marcus, Leah, 181 n. 4, 187 n. 5

Marfisa (in OF ), 64 , 79 , 112 , 168 n. 20

Marganorre (in OF ; Marcanors in Perceval ), 62 , 100 , 155 n. 29;

episode of, analyzed, 168 n. 20;

and gender bias, xv

Marie of Champagne, 23

Marinelli, Peter, 165 n. 48, 166 n. 7, 174 n. 49

Mark, King, 30

Marlowe, Christopher, 13 , 181 n. 8

Marx, Karl, 182 -183n. 8

massacre, xv , 43 , 94 ;

and righteous anger, 44 , 57 , 86

Matthews, William, 158 n. 40

Mayan civilization, 138 -139

Medea, 45 -46

Medeas (in Tavola Ritonda ), 46

Meun, Jean de, 91

Miller, David Lee, 176 n. 4

Milton, John, 12

Mirabella (in FQ ), 180 n. 34

Mirollo, James V, 167 n. 17

monster of Castle Cruel, 42 -44, 51 -53

Montaigne, Michel de, 3 -4, 11 , 13 , 95 -96, 110 , 181 -182n. 8

moral bewilderment, xv , 4 -5, 41 , 48 , 56 -57, 85 , 90 , 94 -95, 97 , 106 -109,


115 , 144 , 182 n. 8, 186 n. 29;

and complex images, 52 ;

Geertz's "groping representation," 40 , 49

Mordred, Sir (in MD ), 33

More, Thomas, 12 , 96 , 152 n. 11, 192 n. 24

mouvance , 26 , 154 n. 29

Munday, Anthony, 128 . See also Palmerin d'Oliva

Murrin, Michael, 139 , 147 n. 7, 174 n. 49


narrative, 140 , 144 ;

and custom, 7 , 13 , 104 ;

and drama, 14 , 113 ;

and moral knowledge, xiv , 4 , 10 -11, 14 , 17 , 40

natural law, 4 , 6 -7, 33 , 39 -40, 57 ;

basis of contract, 32 ;

and chivalry, 24

nature, 39 , 50 , 159 n. 3

New Custom , 187 n. 1

New Historicism, 32 , 93 -94, 174 n. 49

New Testament, 5

Nohrnberg, James, 171 n. 24, 176 n. 4, 188 n. 9

Norbrook, David, 189 n. 14

Norman Conquest, 117

Normans, and castles, 130


Oldcastle, Sir John, 135

Olympia (in OF ), 57

order, social: and custom of the castle as theme, xiii , xv , 16 ;

dance as symbol of, 185 n. 25;

in Erec and Enide , 148 n. 9;

in FQ , 171 n. 24, 174 n. 59;

in Hamlet , uncertainty of, 106 ;

and ideology, 182 n. 8;

illogic of, 68 ;

in Macbeth , corruption of, 120 , 124 -125, 128 ;

and oppressive institutions, 62 , 64 , 66 , 70 , 78

Orlando (in As You Like It ), 112

Orlando (in OI ), 44 , 46 , 160 n. 17

Other, the: custom as sign of, 113 , 136 ;

and detraction, 103 ;

Ireland as, 123 ;

romance representations of, 33 , 53 , 72 , 93 , 139 , 153 n. 21;

toleration of, 83

Ovíd (Metamorphoses ), 46


palace, etymology of, 191 n. 17

Palmerin d'Oliva , 112 , 128

Palmerin of Englande , 112

Palomides, Sir (in MD ), 83

Parker, Patricia, 162 n. 27, 176 n. 4, 185 n. 22

Parkin-Speer, Diane, 187 n. 3

Pascal, Blaise, 12 -13

patronage, 54 -55, 61

Patterson, Annabel, 184 n. 19

Percival's sister, 24

Peris de Forest Savage, Sir (in MD ), 100

Perseforest , 35

Persia, 47

Pharsalia. See Lucan

Philomela, 45

Pindar, 3 -4

Plato, 14 , 116 , 146 ;

Gorgias , 4 , 10 ;

Laws , 193 n. 1;

Republic , 106 , 181 n. 7

Pochoda, Elizabeth, 23

Pocock, J. G. A., 60 , 149 , 164 n. 41, 170 n. 20, 172 n. 30

Poirion, Daniel, 163 n. 31

Poliferno, king of Orcagna, 42 , 49

Pounds, N. J. G., 130

power, 182 n. 8;

castle as symbol of, 130 ;

defined, 78 ;

royal, 146 n. 6;

violence as lack of, 159 n. 9

Procne, 46 -47

property, 6 , 17 , 125 , 140 , 147 n. 6;

law of, 175 n. 3

prophecy, 126 ;

ambiguous, and Shakespeare, 189 -190n. 24

Protestant thought, 187 n. 1, 189 n. 14, 193 n. 35

Proteus, 57

Puttenham, 87 , 94 , 98 , 103 , 110


Quest of the Holy Grail , 35 , 71 , 146 n. 5

Quint, David, 54 , 122 , 174 n. 49


Rachel, 5

Rajna, Pio, 64 , 73

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 85 , 97 -98


Ramus, 12

Ranaldo (in OI ), 40 , 42 -44, 48 , 50 -54, 160 n. 17, 172 n. 33

Red Crosse (in FQ ), 85

Renée of France (duchess of Ferrara), 77

Reynolds, Barbara, 78

Ricoeur, Paul, 111 , 185 n. 25

Riggs, David, 191 -192n. 21

right and wrong, 3 -4, 9 , 11 , 16 , 49 , 83 , 101 -102, 106 , 108 , 135 , 174 n. 59

ritual: sacrifice, 43 , 45 , 48 , 56 -57;

social, 25 , 34 , 123

Rodini, Robert, 78

Rodomonte (in OF ; spelled Rodamonte in OI ), 64 , 160 n. 16, 171 n. 25

Roman de la rose, 91

romance, xiii -xiv, 4 , 17 , 84 , 122 , 138 , 147 n. 9;

contest of courtesy, 30 , 84 , 102 , 140 , 143 , 156 n. 34;

duplicative structure of, 19 , 153 n. 21;

elements of in Macbeth , 122 ;

and interlacing, 40 , 54 , 93 , 172 n. 33;

and love debates, 15 ;

and moral uncertainty, 4 -5, 10 -11;

as neo-Platonic pilgrimage of soul, 34 , 146 ;

nonimitative, 95 -96, 179 n. 22;

and wish fulfillment, 139

Rome: Church of, 129 n. 12, 149 n. 23;

sack of, xv , 60 , 74 -75, 118

Rosa, Alberto Asor, 167 n. 13

Ross, Charles, 159 n. 11, 165 n. 45

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 95

Rubicone (in OI ), 54 , 172 n. 33

Ruggiero (in OF ), 59 , 63 -64, 79 ;

duel with Rodomonte, 171 n. 25, 172 n. 26

Ryence, King (in MD ), 100

Rykwert, Joseph, 191 n. 17


Sahlins, Marshall, 109

Salda, Michael, 151 nn. 1,4

Salutati, Colluccio, 53

Santoro, Mario, 166 n. 7

Saussure, Ferdinand de, 109

Scaglione, Aldo, 159 n. 11, 161 n. 21

Schell, Edgar, 188 n. 7

Schifanoia frescos, 53

Serena (in FQ ), 90 , 92 -93, 98 -100, 178 n. 19, 178 -179n. 20;

compared to Spenser, 180 n. 34

Shakespeare, William, xiii -xiv, 11 , 13 , 119 , 135

Shakespeare, William, works of: As You Like It , 111 -112, 183 n. 11;

Coriolanus , 105 , 181 n. 4;

Hamlet , xvi , 17 , 95 , 104 -116;

1 Henry IV , 135 -136;

2 Henry IV , 110 ;

Henry V , 70 , 135 -137, 172 n.30;

1 Henry VI , 135 -137;

2 Henry VI , 136 , 138 , 189 -190n. 24;

King John , 137 ;

King Lear ; 5 , 120 , 141 -142;

Love's Labor's Lost , 183 n. 11;

Macbeth , xiii , xvi , 5 , 17 , 117 -129;

Merchant of Venice , 141 ;

Midsummer Night's Dream , 14 ;

Othello , 143 -144;

Richard II , 113 , 133 -135;

Romeo and Juliet , 14 ;

Tempest , 133 , 191 n. 17;

Troilus and Cressida , 163 n. 27;

Twelfth Night , 114 ;

Winter's Tale , 7 , 21 , 177 n. 10, 186 n. 29, 193 n.1

Shapiro, Marianne, 167 n. 9

Shemeck, Deanna, 167 n. 8

Sidney, Philip (Defense of Poetry ), 96 , 133 , 191 n. 17

slander. See detraction

Socrates, 4 , 11 , 106

Spenser, Edmund, xiii -xv, 152 n. 8, 154 n. 29, 187 n. 3;

and Ariosto's OF , xv , 70 , 79 -80, 84 , 100 ;

career of, 99 ;

as entrepreneur, 180 n. 34;

lawsuit with Lord Roche, 175 n. 3;

and Malory's MD , xv , 84 , 100 , 102 ;

and reception of FQ , 16 .

See also castles

Spenser, Edmund, works of: The Faerie Queene , 5 , 16 -17, 63 , 79 , 83 -103, 112 , 157 n. 38, 171 n. 24;

FQ , order of legends of, 171 n. 24;

FQ I, 85 ;

FQ II, 157 n. 38, 172 n. 33;

FQ III, 79 -80, 91 , 112 , 133 , 143 , 168 n. 20, 171 n. 24, 174 n. 59, 178 n. 18;

FQ IV, 63 , 66 , 79 ,


133 , 171 n. 24, 176 n. 4;

FQ V, 62 , 85 -86, 94 , 132 -133, 159 n. 10, 168 -170n. 20, 174 n. 59, 175 n. 3;

FQ VI, 83 -103, 116 ;

letter to Raleigh, 178 n. 17;

Shepherd's Calendar , 12 , 179 n. 27;

View of the Present State of Ireland , 94 , 178 n. 16, 180 n. 32.

See also Arthur, King; Calepine, Sir; Calidor, Sir; castles, named (specifically , Castle of Couples; Crudor's and Briana's Castle; Malbecco's Castle; Malecasta's Castle Joyous; Munera's Castle; Pollente's bridge; Sir Turpine's Castle of the Ford); Mirabella; Serena; Turpine, Sir

Starn, Randolph, 166 n. 5

Stella (in OI ), 41 -42, 46 -50, 73

Stillman, Robert, 179 n. 21

Stock, Brian, 169 n. 20

Stone, Lawrence, 193 n. 35

structuralism, 23

Sumer, William Graham, 104 , 110


Tanistry, 123 , 189 n. 18

Tasso, Torquato, 157 n. 38

Tavola Ritonda , 46 , 52 ;

Boiardo's knowledge of, 161 n. 18

Tereus, 46

Teskey, Gordon, 176 n. 4

Thomas, Carol Neely, 144

Thompson, Michael W., 190 -191n. 8

Tillyard, E. M. W., 49

time: and custom in Shakespeare, 21 ;

future good customs, 116 , 120 -121;

justifies customs, 12 , 14 , 26 , 142 , 160 n. 16;

manipulation of, 143

Todorov, Tzvetan, 192 n. 30

toll, as synonym for custom, 86 , 106

Tonkin, Humphrey, 176 n. 4

tragic hero, 119

Trevelyan, G. M., 188 -189n. 13

Trimpi, Wesley, 14 -15

Tristan (in OF ), 70 -71, 157 n. 38

Tristan (in T ), 18 , 29 -30

Tristan, fountain of (in OI ), 42 , 52

Tristan , prose version, 8 , 18 , 27 , 29 -30, 33 , 36 , 59 , 71 -73, 105 , 104 -105, 136 , 153 n. 21, 154 n. 29, 155 n. 29;

date of, 23 , 154 n. 29;

and Malory's MD , 18 -36, 104 -105;

text of, 151 n. 1.

See also Brunor, Sir; castles, named: Castle of Tears; Dialetes; Galehaut; Iseult; Tristan

Tristram (in FQ ), 90 , 96 , 157 -158n. 38

Tristram, Sir (in MD ), 16 , 18 -20, 22 , 25 -32, 34 -36, 105 ;

insensitivity to Isode, 157 -159n. 38

Trojan War, 45

Turpine, Sir, 84 , 91 -93, 99 , 101 -103, 175 n. 3, 175 -176n. 4, 180 n. 34

Turquin, Sir (in MD ), 99 -100

Tuve, Rosemond, 175 n. 4

typology, 5


Ullania (in OF ), 63 -64, 66 -68, 74 , 171 n. 25

Ulysses, 138

Utherpendragon, King (in MD ), 6


vagueness, in romance representation of morally bewildering social practices, xv , 85 , 93 , 115 , 179 n. 22. See also custom: arbitrariness of

Valla, Lorenzo, 55

Van Gennep, Arnold, 25

Vinaver, Eugène, 24

Virgil (Aeneid ), 42 , 47 , 52

Vittorini, Edwina, 184 n. 13


Waller, Marguerite, 144

Walpole, Horace, 140

Wayne, Don E., 151 n. 36

weird sisters (in Macbeth ), 122 , 126

Westminster Abbey, 23 , 34

Whigham, Frank, 177 n. 9

Wickham, Glynne, 188 n. 7

Wiggins, Peter DeSa, 59 , 78 , 174 n. 49

Wilson, Thomas: Arte of Rhetorique , 12 , 111 , 149 n. 23;

Rule of Reason , 12 , 185 n. 22


women: focus of "custom of the castle" for Ariosto, 70 ;

and individualism, 70 ;

oppression of, 32 , 50 , 59 , 156 -158n. 38;

rape, 42 , 47 -48, 50 , 162 n. 23;

and silence, 47 , 50 -51, 56 ;

and widowhood, 47 -48, 161 n. 20, 170 n. 23.

See also Isabella; Marganorre; Rodomonte; Serena; Tristram


Yucatan, 138


Zumthor, Paul, 154 n. 29, 158 n. 39

Preferred Citation: Ross, Charles. The Custom of the Castle: From Malory to Macbeth. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1997 1997.