The Birth of Romance in England

Four Twelfth-Century Romances in the French of England:
The Romance of Horn, The Folie Tristan, The Lai of Haveloc and Amis and Amilun

Translated and introduced by Judith Weiss

FRETS vol. 4 (MRTS vol. 344) ACMRS Press, 2009

The four twelfth-century Anglo-Norman romances translated into English here were written to entertain the families of those barons who accompanied William the Conqueror to Britain and who soon developed an interest in the legends of their adopted land. The poets they patronized created lively narratives linked to British history, topography, and folklore. In the earliest French romance to be written in Britain, the sophisticated Romance of Horn, the hero is wrongly dispossessed and exiled, but defeats his Saracen enemies and returns in triumph to claim his inheritance. Similarly disinherited, the hero of the Lai of Haveloc is a Danish prince who eventually rules both England and Denmark. Cornwall is the setting for the Folie Tristan, a story of Tristans madness, which he feigns in order to visit his lover, Iseut. Amis e Amilun celebrates two friends who exploit their resemblance to one another in a range of situations (quests, leprosy, adultery, etc), and who have to pay the price, personally or in terms of damage to their families.