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The Island of Sicily and the Matter of Britain

Byrne, A. (2021) The Island of Sicily and the Matter of Britain. In: Edwards, A. S. G. (ed.) Medieval Romance, Arthurian Literature: Essays in Honour of Elizabeth Archibald. D. S. Brewer, Cambridge, pp. 34-45. ISBN 9781843846161

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The paper considers the association of Arthur with Sicily in a range of medieval texts. In the Otia Imperialia, Gervase of Tilbury recounts how a groom followed his master’s runaway horse into the side of Mount Etna and encountered Arthur there. A similar story is told a decade later by Caesarius of Heisterbach. Sicily also seems to take on the role of Avalon in the French romance Floriant et Florete and is depicted as the enchanted realm of Arthur in Guillem de Torroella's La Faula. Two further brief references in a Tuscan comic poem and in another French romance seem to also reflect this tradition. There are obvious political reasons for this association: associating Arthur with Sicily provides a striking pseudo-historical link between the northern and southern Norman kingdoms. However, there are also literary and geographical reasons why Sicily might be seen as an Avalon-like island.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:102646
Publisher:D. S. Brewer

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