Knight of Curtesy and the Fair Lady of Faguell

General Information

(N)IMEV: 1486
Form: Quatrains rhyming abab
Date of Composition: Late fourteenth century
Place of Composition: London ?
Keywords: Accused Queen, Bedchamber, Cannibalism, Crusade, Familial Discord, Friendship, Garden, Marriage, Military Combat, Monster, Religious Figures, Religious Spaces, Sacrament, Saracen, Secular Spaces, Sexual Encounters, Tokens of Recognition, Travel, Treachery

Plot Summary

Plot summary image

Hearing of the Knight of Courtesy’s chivalric prowess, the Lord of Faguell invites him to his court, making his other knights jealous by giving him land, towns and castles. The knight and the lord’s virtuous wife quickly fall in love. When she overhears him lamenting his love in a garden, she joins him and reveals that his feelings are reciprocated. They vow to keep their love innocent, like that between brother and sister, and kiss chastely. However, another knight hears their conversation and reports a distorted version to the lord. Vowing to kill the knight, he holds a feast, where he teases him for not joining the crusades. Ashamed, the knight prepares to leave immediately. Before he departs, the sorrowful lady gives him a lock of her golden hair to wear on his helm.

The knight sadly sets out for Rhodes. On his way, he wins tournaments and slays a female dragon then has his wounds healed in a nunnery. Meanwhile, the lady mourns his absence, beginning to suspect her lord of arranging his death. In Rhodes the knight fights bravely and kills many Saracens, but is fatally wounded. Before he dies, he instructs his page to remove his heart and deliver it to the lady, wrapped in the lock of hair. However, her husband intercepts the love-token, and has the heart cooked and served to his wife at dinner. When she has finished he reveals that she has eaten her lover’s heart. She immediately retires to her chamber, where she makes confession and receives the sacrament, refusing all other food. Protesting her innocence, she forgives her lord and dies.

From: Elizabeth MacCausland, Ed. ‘The Knight of Curtesy and the Fair Lady of Faguell’. Smith College Studies in Modern Languages Vol. 4, no.1 (1922).

Early Editions

1556? London: William Copland. STC (2nd ed.), 24223. Oxford Bodleian Library.

Modern Editions

Elizabeth MacCausland, The Knight of Curtesy and the Fair Lady of Faguell, Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, vol. 4, no. 1 (1922)Edited from Copland print.
Francis James Child, ed., The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1884-1898; rpt, New York: Dover Publications, 1965)Vol. 1. Edited from Copland print.
J. Ritson, ed., Ancient English Metrical Romances, 3 vols (London, 1802)Vol. 3. Edited from Copland print.
W. Carew Hazlitt, ed., Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England, 4 vols (London: John Russell Smith, 1864-66; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1966)Vol. 2. Edited from Copland print.


Chronique due Chastelain de Couci et de dame de Faiel
Jakemon Maket, Ch√Ętelain de Couci (Late 13th century)