Dr Anastasija Ropa
Dr Joseph M. Sullivan
Dr Eleana Creazzo
Dr Sandy Feinstein
Horses in the Middle Ages were a means of transport, but, in the world of chivalry, they were also powerful symbolic vehicles. An Arthurian knight would be judged not only by his clothes but also, and firstly, by the horse he rode: thus, Chrètien de Troyes’s Perceval is ridiculed for riding an old piebald mare, whereas Chrètien Sir Lancelot (in The Knight of the Cart) undergoes the utter humiliation of being driven in a cart pulled by a nag. On the more positive side, the knights at the height of their glory ride powerful white destriers, and ladies are seated on elegant palfreys, bedecked with colourful equipment.
The session on Arthurian horses explores the variety of meanings given to horses in the medieval Arthuriana. The individual papers are devoted to the appearance and significance of horses in the English (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur), French (La Queste del Saint Graal), Welsh (Y Seint Greal) and Middle Dutch (Lancelot Compilation) romances. Meanwhile, medieval Latin and French texts outside the canon of Arthurian romances often associate certain places with the Arthurian tradition; interestingly, the legend of Arthur in the Etna Volcano in Sicily brings horses to the foreground, highlighting the symbolic importance of horses in the medieval Arthuriana.