Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-8bljj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-17T15:36:22.241Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

12 - The Squire of Low Degree and the Penumbra of Romance Narrative in the Early Sixteenth Century

from IV - Late Romance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 October 2019

Julia Boffey
Affiliation:
Professor of Medieval Studies in the Department of English at Queen Mary, University of London.
A. S. G. Edwards
Affiliation:
FSA, FEA, is Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Kent and University College London.
Get access

Summary

In about 1520 Wynkyn de Worde published Undo Youre Dore (STC 23111.5), elsewhere titled The Squire of Low Degree, a verse narrative in couplets, with no known source, and no surviving early manuscript witnesses. Usually classified as a romance, the poem gestures in various ways to the conventional features of romance narrative, and de Worde's decision to print it may reflect his sense that the market for romances, one for which he had catered for some decades, remained a strong one. Yet in some respects de Worde's printing of The Squire of Low Degree seems to mark a pivotal point in the history of his engagement with this form, and to indicate a recognition on his part that the previous commercial appeal of the genre might be extended in different directions. Some of these new directions are thrown into relief when The Squire of Low Degree is compared with other printed romances and with other forms of verse narrative printed by de Worde during the 1520s. As we will suggest, de Worde's sense of the continuing appeal of this genre seems untypical of the general level of interest among printers in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a point when their engagement with romance seems to have been flagging.

The plot of The Squire of Low Degree can be summarised as follows. The squire of the work's title falls in love with the King of Hungary's daughter, whom he serves with silent devotion. Although the princess discovers his love at an early stage and reciprocates it, an unscrupulous steward, who himself wishes to marry the princess, reveals their love to the king. The squire seeks permission from the king for a period of exile ‘to be proved a venterous knight’ (478). Before departing he returns to his lady's chamber to bid her farewell. But the steward has been charged by the king to be ready for such a contingency with ‘men of armes’ (416). They attack the squire, and a melée ensues in which the squire kills the steward but is himself seized by the king, who sends him into exile for seven years, in which he does ‘great chyvalry’ (886).

Type
Chapter
Information
Romance Rewritten
The Evolution of Middle English Romance. A Tribute to Helen Cooper
, pp. 229 - 240
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×