The willingness to betray one’s country, one’s people, one’s family—to commit treason and foreswear loyalty to one entity by giving it to another—is a difficult concept for many people to comprehend. Yet, societies have grappled with treason for centuries; the motivations, implications, and consequences are rarely clear cut and are often subjective. Set against the framework of modern political concerns, Treason: Medieval and Early Modern Adultery, Betrayal, and Shame considers the various forms of treachery in a variety of sources, including literature, historical chronicles, and material culture creating a complex portrait of the development of this high crime. Larissa Tracy artfully brings together younger critics as well as seasoned scholars in a compelling and topical conversation on treason.
Contributors are Frank Battaglia, Dianne Berg, Tina Marie Boyer, Albrecht Classen, Sam Claussen, Freddy C. Domínguez, Melissa Ridley Elmes, Ana Grinberg, Iain A. MacInnes, Inna Matyushina, Sally Shockro, Susan Small, Peter Sposato, Sarah J. Sprouse, Daniel Thomas, and Larissa Tracy.
Larissa Tracy, Ph.D. (2000), Trinity College Dublin, is Professor of Medieval Literature at Longwood University. She has published monographs, edited collections, and several articles on medieval violence including Torture and Brutality in Medieval Literature (D. S. Brewer, 2012).
'Tracy’s volume offers a great deal to those interested in the workings of treason (and loyalty) in the medieval and early modern periods, not least for anyone interested in German and French literature and history, as well as in religious forms. I have left discussion of other fine chapters out due to constraints of space, but let those mentioned here recommend the others, as well. Tracy is right that an understanding of the history of treason is useful to thinking about the uses and abuses of accusations of treason today. The chapters assembled in this collection testify to the enduring struggle with how treason was defined, punished, used in the interest of the state, and sometimes deployed as a legitimate form of rebellion against the tyrant.'
Cristina León Alfar, in Journal of British Studies 59.4, October 2020.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: The Shameful Business of Betrayal and Treason Larissa Tracy
Part 1: The Politics of Treason
1 Wiglaf’s Sword: The Coming of the State
2 In Sickness and in Health: the Boethian Narrative of the Two Geralds of Brecon
Sarah J. Sprouse
3 Treasonous and Dishonorable Conduct: the Private Dimension of Treason and Chivalric Reform in Late Medieval Florence
4 Royal Punishment and Reconciliation in Trastámara Castile
Samuel A. Claussen
5 “A somewhat too cruel vengeance was taken for the blood of the slain”: Royal Punishment of Rebels, Traitors, and Political Enemies in Medieval Scotland, c. 1100–c. 1250
Iain A. MacInnes
Part 2: Religious Treason and Heresy
6 Revolt in Heaven: Lucifer’s Treason in Genesis B Daniel Thomas
7 Blessed Betrayal: The Opportunity of Treachery in Anglo-Latin Ecclesiastical Texts
8 Legal Ramifications of Ordeals and Treason in Morant und Galie Tina Boyer
9 Religious Identity, Loyalty, and Treason in the Cycle du Roi Ana Grinberg
10 Traitors Respond: English Catholic Polemical Strategies against Accusations of Treason at the End of the Sixteenth Century
Freddy C. Domínguez
Part 3: Treasonous Love: Adultery and Shame
11 Treason and Deception in Late Medieval German Romances and Novels Königin Sibille, Melusine, and Malagis Albrecht Classen
12 Treacherous Women at King Arthur’s Court: Punishment and Shame
13 Treason and the Feast in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur Melissa Ridley Elmes
14 ‘Tis Fearful Sleeping in a Serpent’s Bed’: Arden of Favershamand the Threat of the Petty Traitor
15 The Spatial Configuration of Shame in La Princesse de Clèves Susan Small
Conclusion: the Shame Game, from Guinevere to Cersei: Adultery, Treason, and Betrayal
All interested in the history and literature of medieval and early modern treason, adultery, betrayal, and shame, especially as it pertains to legal arguments and social concerns, such as gender.