Sir Thomas Malory: The Critical Heritage

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countries, fortified with strong castles and towers, edified with many a rich city. Ye also, ye fierce and mighty chivalers, so valiant in adventurous deeds of arms, behold, behold, see how this mighty conqueror Arthur, whom in his human life all the world doubted—ye also, the noble queen Guenever, that sometime sat in her chair adorned with gold, pearls, and precious stones, now lie full low in obscure foss or pit covered with clods of earth and clay. Behold also this mighty champion Launcelot, peerless of knighthood, see now how he lieth groveling on the cold mould, now being so feeble and faint that sometime was so terrible, how and in what manner ought ye to be so desirous of the mundane honour so dangerous. Therefore me thinketh this present book called La Morte Darthur is right necessary often to be read, for in it shall ye find the gracious, knightly, and virtuous war of most noble knights of the world, whereby they gat praising continual. Also me seemeth by the oft reading thereof ye shall greatly desire to accustom yourself in following of those gracious knightly deeds, that is to say, to dread God, and to love rightwiseness, faithfully and courageously to serve your sovereign prince. And the more that God hath given you the triumphal honour the meeker ye ought to be, ever fearing the unstableness of this deceivable world. And so I pass over, and turn again to my matter.


3.

Tudor historians on Malory

A.


John Leland

1544

John Leland (c. 1506-52), antiquarian and librarian and collector of manuscripts (many from the dissolved monasteries) under Henry VIII, published his Assertion of Arthur in 1544, in response to the attacks on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s historical veracity by Polydore Vergil and others. Leland includes ‘Thomas Melorius’ in a list of authors whose

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