The dit amoureux and the Makars: An Essay on The Kingis Quair and The Testament of Cresseid

William Calin

Abstract


A number of major Scots texts in the later Middle Ages partake of a mode of high courtly narrative, Lewis’s allegory of love, what in French studies is now called the dit amoureux or ‘tale of love.’ The article discusses the first two tales of love in the grand manner — The Kingis Quair and The Testament of Cresseid — relating them to well known works by Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, and, in Henryson’s case, Alain Chartier and the Belle Dame sans Mercy Cycle. The dit amoureux, with its wit, play, complexity, and ambiguity, proves to be one of the genres most congenial to the Makars. It can help situate Scots texts in their cultural milieu and also help account for their extraordinary complexity and maturity as works of art.

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