Purkey, Lynn; Davies, Joshua
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
In the realm of Arthuriana, numerous versions exist of the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. The genre of the riddarasögur – “the sagas of knights” – contains Norwegian versions of these tales along with Norwegian versions of other French literature such as Marie de France’s lais and fabliaux. In the 13th century, King Hákon Hákonarson commissioned the translation of the French tales into Norwegian for the purpose of civilizing Norwegian society in general and the royal court in particular. Given the fair treatment of women and of love in the riddarasögur, King Hákon’s project to civilize his court through the translation of French chivalric romances seems to have met with success. In fact, the riddarasögur may have exceeded the French understanding of true and noble love. The writers of the Norwegian texts seem to have surpassed – at least for the modern reader – the French appreciation for the beauty, dignity and integrity of love. One finds evidence of this in how the Norwegian versions emphasize the dignity and autonomy of women while the French versions seem to idolize the exterior beauty of women. Though both the French and Norwegian versions present love as a force that propels the plot and transforms individuals and societies, the manner in which love is presented varies significantly. The French tales present love in an idealized, flowery, and emotionally effusive manner. The Norwegian versions focus more on the action of the adventures and allow love to permeate and guide the plot with a steady, quiet presence that demonstrates a firm grasp of true, agapic love as defined by C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves.
Thank you to Dr. Karen Casebier, Dr. Joshua Davies, and Dr. Lynn Purkey for your invaluable guidance and insight in the research and presentation processes.
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Romances, Old Norse -- History and criticism; Old Norse literature -- History and criticism
Tuggle, Elizabeth, "Riddarasögur: changing medieval Norway with French romance literature" (2017). Honors Theses.