Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program

French Studies; Medieval Studies

Project Advisor 1

Karen Sullivan

Project Advisor 2

Eric Trudel

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table is one of the best-known stories in the Western world. Generally people tend to associate Arthurian legend with fifteenth-century English writing or French romances, but in reality, Arthurian legend has its origins in Brittonic oral tradition. Merlin, specifically, represents the concepts of Brittonic paganism and wildness more than any other Arthurian character. The changes made in the character and the narrative of Merlin, from Brittonic legend to Latin writing and then to French romances, reflect a political and cultural shift in Britain and France. An examination of Merlin in the various stages of his transformations will suggest a subversion of the treatment of the Britons, and later the Welsh, as barbaric. This examination will also reveal how the evolution of Merlin’s specific interactions with kings, particularly his relationship with Arthur, contributed to the emergence of the high medieval romance literary genre.

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