Floris and Blancheflour

General Information

(N)IMEV: *2288.8
Form: Couplets
Date of Composition: c. 1250
Place of Composition: South-east Midlands
Keywords: Bedchamber, Disguise, Education, Ekphrasis, Familial Discord, Friendship, Garden, Marriage, Merchants, Quest, Religious Spaces, Secular Spaces, Sexual Encounters, Supernatural, The Orient, The Third Estate, Tokens of Recognition, Travel

Plot Summary

Plot summary image

[The king of Spain captures a Christian noblewoman, who gives birth to a daughter, Blancheflour, on the same day as his queen bears a son, Floris. The children are raised together]. When they are seven, Floris refuses to begin school without Blancheflour. The pair studies together for five years and their love blossoms. Fearing that they will marry, the King decides to execute Blancheflour. His queen persuades him to send Floris away instead, hoping that the separation will dull their love.

While he is away, Floris ignores his studies and becomes lovesick. The King resolves to kill Blancheflour but is again dissuaded by his wife. Instead, they sell her to some merchants in exchange for gold and an ornate cup, once owned by Aeneas and decorated with scenes of Paris and Helen of Troy. The king erects a false tomb, and when Floris returns he is told that Blancheflour has died and been buried. He laments wildly and tries to kill himself, until his mother confesses and the empty tomb is opened. Floris vows to seek Blancheflour and his parents give him the cup and a magic ring for protection. He dresses as a merchant and lodges at an inn, where he learns that Blancheflour has been taken to Babylon. He rewards his hosts richly and sets sail the next day.

When he arrives, Floris stays in another inn and learns that the emir plans to keep Blancheflour in his harem. The innkeeper sends the youth to his friend Dares, who warns him that the emir’s women are kept in an impenetrable tower, an architectural marvel. He also explains how the emir uses enchantments and a magical garden to select his brides. Floris swoons, but Dares has an ingenious plan: Floris should pretend to be a mason and befriend the tower’s porter, ensuring his loyalty by letting him win his ornate cup in a game of checkers.

The porter places Floris in a basket of flowers and sends him into the tower, where he is discovered by Blancheflour’s friend Clarys. She agrees not to betray them and the reunited couple go to bed. Blancheflour misses an appointment with the emir, but Clarys makes excuses for her. When it happens a second time, however, his chamberlain discovers her in bed with Floris. Enraged, the emir imprisons the lovers.

When they are brought before the emir’s barons to be judged, Floris tries to give Blancheflour his magic ring, but she refuses and it falls to the floor. The barons are moved by their beauty, but the emir demands they be killed, until a king, who saw them arguing over the ring, persuades him otherwise. Floris is spared in exchange for revealing how he entered the tower; the barons laugh at his story and the delighted Amir knights him. The lovers are married, and the emir marries Clarys. Shortly after, news reaches Floris that his father has died, and he and his bride return to Spain, where they are crowned.

From: Jennifer Fellows, Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance. London: J.M. Dent for Everyman, 1993.
Manuscript: London, British Library MS Egerton 2862


Click a title below to search for all romances in that manuscript.

Cambridge University Library, MS Gg.4.27 (folio: 1r-5v)c.1300, South-west Midlands. 824 lines. Lacks first two leaves, about 350 lines.
Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, MS Advocates 19.2.1 (Auchinleck) (folio: 100r-104v)c. 1330, London. 861 lines. Begins imperfect (lacking about 384 lines).
London, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius D.iii (folio: 6r-8v)South West. Before 1300. Fragment of 451 lines, many imperfect.
London, British Library, MS Egerton 2862 (olim Trentham-Sutherland) (folio: 98r-111r)Late 14th century, Suffolk. 1083 lines. Lacks beginning but the most complete of the MSS -only about 80 lines missing.

Modern Editions

A. B. Taylor, Floris and Blancheflour: A Middle-English Romance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1927)Edited from Auchinleck with additions from Cotton and Cambridge manuscripts.
A. C. Gibbs, ed., Middle English Romances, York Medieval Texts (London: Edward Arnold; Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1966)Pp. 76-83. Selections only. Based on Egerton and Cambridge manuscripts.
D. B. Sands, ed., Middle English Verse Romances (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 1986)Pp. 279-309. Based on Egerton.
D. Laing, A Penni Worth of Witte, Abbotsford Club (Edinburgh, 1857)Pp. 15-44. Edited from Auchinleck.
Emil Hausknecht, ed., Floris und Blauncheflur (Berlin: Weidman, 1885)Based on all MSS.
Erik Kooper, Sentimental and Humorous Romances (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2006)Pp. 1-52. Edited from Auchinleck supplemented by Egerton.Available online at: http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/ekfbfrm.htm
F. C. De Vries, ed., Floris and Blauncheflur (Gröningen: Drukkerij V.R.B, 1966)Based on all MSS.
George H. McKnight, ed., King Horn, Floriz & Blauncheflur, The Assumption of Our Lady, EETS o.s. 14 (London: Oxford University Press, 1901; rpt. 1962)Pp. 71-110, 146-47. Based on Cambridge, Egerton and Cotton Vitellius manuscripts.
Jennifer Fellows, ed., Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance (London: Everyman, 1992)PAGE Nos/ base text.
Walter Hoyt French and Charles Brockway Hale, eds., The Middle English Metrical Romances, 2 vols (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1930; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1964)Vol. 2. Pp. 823-856. Based on Egerton.


Old French Floire et Blancheflor (Aristocratic Version)