To be a "Fleschhewere": beheading, butcher-knights, and blood-taboos in Octavian Imperator

Ward, Renee (2012) To be a "Fleschhewere": beheading, butcher-knights, and blood-taboos in Octavian Imperator. In: Heads will roll: decapitation in the medieval and early modern imagination. Brill, Leiden and Boston, pp. 159-182. ISBN 9789004211551

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Abstract

This article argues that the author of the fourteenth-century Middle English romance Octavian Imperator rewrites the beheading motif frequently found in literature, especially in medieval romance. More specifically, it demonstrates how the poet resignifies the giant’s severed head as an emblem not of the untested knight but, instead, of a lowly butcher, and reveals how, through semantic links and parallel descriptions of physical traits and behavioral characteristics, the narrative ties the butcher to non-Christian “Others” such as Saracens and Jews, and aligns all three groups with the figure of the knight, revealing the narrative’s engagement with larger thematic concerns of racial, ethnic, and class differences.

Keywords:Medieval Romance, Octavian, Beheading, Decapitation, Monsters, Jews, Saracens, Butchers, Blood Taboo, Social Class, Fourteenth Century London, Anti-Semitism, Knights, Violence
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q323 English Literature by topic
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q200 Comparative Literary studies
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:25416
Deposited On:26 Dec 2016 20:19

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