Fictions of patronage: the romance heroine as sponsor in John Metham's Amoryus and Cleopes.
Medieval noblewomen learned how to commission textual compositions and translations, how to sponsor works of medieval art and architecture, and even learned about the social and spiritual benefits of establishing educational and religious foundations through examples set by family connections and the sociopolitical networks and textual communities in which they lived. (5) These networks of influence have been reconstructed to a certain extent through testamentary evidence and other extraliterary documents. However, I suggest that women might also have learned methods of patronage from the books they read, specifically medieval romances.
In these texts, the female reader encounters an explicit demonstration of how a woman's intellectual as well as financial resources can be used to influence cultural and literary productions. Even though these literary characters are sponsoring knights rather than books, the process of influence outlined in these romances marks a wide range of women's knowledge as socially significant and worthy of dissemination. By reassessing medieval patronage, broadening its scope and its potential as an avenue for women to express their intellectual expertise, this article examines Metham's Amoryus and Cleopes to consider how female characters functioned as models of cultural, intellectual, and social patronage in medieval romances read and patronized by women. Focusing on literary representations of women's sponsorship enables us to perceive the extent of women's influence on the medieval patronage system, an influence often unacknowledged in historical and extraliterary sources.
In Amoryus and Cleopes (1449), (6) we see how thorough specialized knowledge--in this case, the knowledge of natural science--can function as the primary means by which a romance heroine engages in sponsorship. In Metham's romance, Cleopes actively conveys her particular body of knowledge and implicitly offers specific instructions to female readers on how that knowledge could be used to promote the chivalric careers of the men they may seek to sponsor. This romance integrates the more immediately tangible benefits of women's patronage with the primarily intellectual and social influence (that is, not supplying riches or weaponry) enacted through Cleopes's scientific discourse. For example, Cleopes will give Amoryus several small but important gifts to ensure his success in battle. Although these items--gleaned from the medieval herbals and lapidaries on which her knowledge is based--do not compare to the lavish wealth and war gear the female patrons give their knights in other late-medieval romances such as Partonope of Blois and Sir Launfal, Amoryus and Cleopes demonstrates how female knowledge has practical applications in the life of a sponsored knight and in the lives of the readers of the romance as well.
Metham's text illustrates an aspect of female patronage not often explored in medieval romances where women are depicted as the arbiters of cultural influence. The success of the relationship between the lady and her knight, as well as his chivalric development, is predicated on Cleopes's proaction and the deployment of her scientific expertise; yet there is also a collaborative valence to their interactions, particularly toward the end of the romance, when the more traditional chivalric narrative transforms into a tale of religious conversion. At this point, Cleopes learns along with Amoryus about Christian truth from a hermit who performs a resurrection miracle. Despite this newfound religion, however, Cleopes's intellectual influence remains valid even after the conversion takes place; indeed, her new status as a Christian makes her patronage much more potent and persuasive for the audience of Metham's romance.
This element of collaborative as well as individual learning and influence is overtly mirrored by Metham's actual patrons, Miles and Katherine Stapleton. As I discuss at the end of this essay, Amoryus and Cleopes themselves are but thinly veiled characterizations of Miles and Katherine. Although we might read Katherine's influence over Metham and his romance as diminished because she acts in tandem with her husband, (7) the individual praise and attention Metham affords Katherine, both within the romance and in other texts, indicates that he considers her to be an influential patron in her own right.
Amoryus and Cleopes survives in a single manuscript located in the Princeton University Library: MS Garrett 141. At the conclusion to his text, Metham reveals to his audience the reason he began the business of "ryming": "To comforte them that schuld falle in hevynes / For tyme onocupyid, qwan folk have lytyl to do, / On haly dayis to rede, me thynk yt best so" (2210-2212). Metham's unorthodox suggestion, that the "tyme onocupyid" on holy days depresses people, could give many devout readers pause. Even more boldly, Metham suggests that the cure for this dismal lag time can be found in classically inspired romances such as Amoryus and Cleopes rather than a strictly devotional text or the Bible. (8) But for all the entertainment value contained in Amoryus and Cleopes, it is not a traditional romance either. The text draws heavily on scientific treatises and religious material in addition to the chivalric episodes. (9) Thus Metham's suggestion for holy day reading, placed strategically after the audience has read his unique romance, is not as inappropriate as it first appears; the romance is designed both to entertain and to provide spiritual inspiration for the reader. (10) Furthermore, this romance and the other texts owned by and dedicated to the Stapletons offer insight into fifteenth-century reading tastes, particularly those of a female patron.
This romance provides a steady trajectory of the status of scientific knowledge and chivalric activities that moves from their alliance with pagan religion and culture to a compatibility with Christianity. This article in part investigates this transformation of these activities from pagan to Christian-or their "conversion." I also consider the work's manuscript context, which situates the romance among other scientific texts written by Metham for his patrons. (11) These works suggest that the scientific portions of Metham's romance were not simply tedious digressions into scholarly learning, but that Katherine and Miles valued these parts of the romance, for this scientific material is reflected in the rest of the works in their manuscript.
In Amoryus and Cleopes, the audience witnesses not only a resurrection narrative and a moralized ending but also a Christian displacement of an older pagan belief system. In spite of this displacement, Metham maintains a continuity in his representation of two aspects of secularity in the romance: scientific treatises and feats of chivalry. These narratives are redefined or "converted" along with the characters in Amoryus and Cleopes. The pagans' conversion breaks the connection between classical paganism and science (an association often made in the Middle Ages) and forges a link between Christianity, scientific knowledge, and worldly pastimes. Whereas R. M. Lumiansky claims that "clearly, [the author's] chief interest is religious," (12) Metham asserts the possibility of coexistence between science and salvation.
Most important, the character of Cleopes is the site at which natural science, the cultivation of knighthood, and newfound Christianity converge in Metham's romance. After the conversion, Cleopes's rehearsal of natural science, which enables Amoryus to succeed at worldly chivalric feats, is not condemned along with the pagans' idol worship. Rather, her secular knowledge and his chivalric victories are rendered as elements of a good Christian life; the actions and values of female patrons--both Cleopes and Katherine--remain consistent throughout Metham's romance. Thus the scientific information remains as valuable after the conversion as before, and valorous pursuits, those that bring the knight honor and respect, are not scorned by the newly baptized lovers and their fellow citizens. With Amoryus and Cleopes, Metham illustrates how Christians can enjoy the scientific and chivalric benefits of the world without jeopardizing their souls with pagan religion.
Cleopes's recitation of her natural scientific discourse, while at first glance a bit of a distraction or digression from the love narrative, (13) is part of a broader engagement with science both in the romance and in the manuscript in which it appears. It is clear from Metham's literary corpus that his patrons the Stapletons--and probably Metham himself--held a fervent interest in scientific texts. (14) Metham augments the more conventional elements often found in medieval romances, the chivalric episodes of jousting and dragon-slaying, with scientific treatises drawn almost entirely from classical sources. (15) This scientific information enhances Metham's scholarly image, provides narrative authority to his heroine, and functions as the foundation of her acts of patronage in the romance.
Unlike Metham's long and largely unprefaced digression into astronomical lecture (507-625), Cleopes's scientific monologue can be understood as the culmination of a comprehensive set of interventions in Amoryus's life. In her discussion of the relationship between Amoryus and his father, Jamie Fumo mentions Palamedon's "concern for his son's development, which mirrors the relationship between Chaucer's Knight and Squire in the General Prologue." (16) Indeed, there are significant parallels between these two sets of figures--Palamedon's knightly experience lies in stark contrast to Amoryus's frivolity and youthful rambunctiousness--but it is not clear that the father in Metham's romance is truly concerned with and supportive of his son's chivalric development. The question is, then: Who really teaches Amoryus?
Palamedon is doubtless an excellent source of knightly lessons; describing him as a true flower of chivalry, Metham notes that Palamedon's "prudent poyntys of were [skills of war] wer so dyvulgate [well known] / That in the chauncys of Mars he stode makeles [matchless] laureat" (90-91). Similarly, his son exhibits every bit of this chivalric potential. He is not only "manful and strong wythalle" (96) but "fulle of norture and curtesye; / And be hys wysdam, [he is] abyl an hole reme to gye" (97-98). Metham goes even further in his laudatory description of Amoryus, "of home [whom] this story in especyal / Makyth mencion" (94):
And in hys governauns so demure and dyscrete was he, That iche creature he coude reverens be norturyd jentylnes Aftyr ther degre, that of pore and ryche yn the cyte. (17) The fame of hys manhod and of hys lovlynes Was in ryfe[.] (99-103)
Despite this chivalric promise--which extends beyond physical strength to include the subtle discernment and appropriate treatment of social rank--Metham is keen to remark that Amoryus was "makeles [matchless], / Hys age consydyrryd" (103-105). Still a young man, Amoryus continues to act frivolously with his friends. As Palamedon, Amoryus, and their retinue ride to Albynest for the dedication of the newly constructed temple of Venus, one of Amoryus's young friends begins a discussion about love and fidelity. After elaborating on the perils of loving before one is certain of being requited, the friend shakes off the serious tone of their discussion and states, "lete yt pase, and syng now sum songe for this sesunne" (377). As these "fresch galauntys" (409) continue to sing their Maytime song, Palamedon notably "rode forth stylly, / Thynkyng alle but vanyte and foly" (407-408).
During the tournament, Palamedon reaches a similar conclusion when he sees the strange "kerchyf" that Amoryus wears, which is emblazoned with the same textual conceit Cleopes had pointed out to the young knight earlier: "'Qwat,' quod he, 'hath he yondyr? Yt ys sum nysete.' / As he come nere--'Qwat have ye ther? qwat maner jape or foly?'" (871-872). When Amoryus explains that this badge will guarantee him victory, Palamedon dismissively and perhaps skeptically says "God yeve grace ... yt be so" (877) and rides away. Finally, when Amoryus is faced with the challenge of fighting the dragon, Palamedon emphasizes the dangers inherent in the task but does not offer his son much encouragement:
dare ye take this thyng? Be wele avysed, for yt ys no chyldys pleyng To fyght wyth sqwyche a devyl; for yf yowre wepyn brokyn Were in fyght, ye were but ded" (1193-1196).
Thus Palamedon displays concern not so much for his son's development as for his ability to maintain the seriousness and maturity necessary not only to succeed in but to survive knightly challenges such as jousting and dragon-slaying. (18)
Both of the young lovers in Metham's romance reflect their fathers' most notable attributes; while Amoryus demonstrates an undeveloped chivalric potential similar to Palamedon's, Cleopes mirrors the nurturing capacity of her father, Dydas. As co-ruler of Albynest, Dydas excels at negotiating the domestic and religious needs of the people, whereas Palamedon protects their interests in martial activities. Indeed, Metham describes Dydas as the people's patron; after a terrible earthquake strikes the region and destroys the temple of Venus, (19) "the cyteceynis for fere fled to Dydas palyse--/ Bothe prest and seculerys, women and alle--/ For socoure and comfort and to here hys avyse" (121-123). In response to their complaints about the loss of both the city's revenue and its main place of worship, Dydas reassures his people:
Frendys, be noght abaschyd for this soden case. I schal a new tempyl reedyfye to owre goddes dere, And yt as rychely aray as the elde tempyl was. And eke as myche tresur as ye lest, more or las, I schal of my fre wyl restore that ye no los schal have. (135-139)
Channeling the people's fear and dismay into productive action, Dydas provides a rallying point for the citizens of Albynest after the devastating disaster. The people not only praise their benefactor and patron "on kneys ... as thei aucte to do" (141-142), they begin the process of rebuilding the city, beginning with the construction of a "pyler [pillar] to Dydas Juno" (144).
Like her father, Cleopes stands as a beacon of inspiration to those around her. In addition to her beauty, she was "so benygne to yche creature, / That lusty yong knyghtys gret parte wold make / To breke huge sperys fersly for Cleopes sake" (152-153). Cleopes has the power to channel and instigate acts of chivalric prowess, an ability she readily applies to her relationship with Amoryus. Thus it is Cleopes and not Palamedon who takes control over Amoryus's knightly education; after meeting his lover, Amoryus rededicates himself to chivalry, setting aside his earlier childish songs and idle banter. The young man's successes in love, jousting, and dragon-slaying are based almost entirely on Cleopes's textual knowledge, patronage, and ability to communicate her knowledge, desires, and intentions even when she cannot speak to or influence her knight overtly.
The active role Cleopes plays in the romance is well illustrated in three scenes: the lovers' first meeting, Amoryus's tournament, and their meeting at the wall before the fight with the dragon. These acts of patronage are based almost exclusively on a woman's broad textual knowledge, which becomes a catalyst for male chivalric excellence; Cleopes recognizes the importance of texts as intellectual resources as well as physical objects that can function as a means of communication. At the dedication ritual for the magical sphere--the heart of the people's pagan religious practice--Amoryus and his coterie of "fresch yonge knytys" (732) are wandering through the temple of Venus when Amoryus's "eye began sodenly / To be set on one [i.e., Cleopes], abaschyd in maner of that soden chauns" (740-741). After this first glance, Amoryus feigns prayer in order to hide his love and circles the temple while forming a plan to approach Cleopes. His advance is hindered, however, because he is concerned about "the starerrys [those who stare]" (762) and his "fere of tungys [gossips]" (764).20 When Cleopes notices his attention, she believes initially that he loves her only "in frendly maner" (771). Amoryus circles her several more times, and she begins to "consyder hys stature" and to "comend ... hys semlynes" (782-783), until finally "lovys fyre had percyd here hert" (784). Although Amoryus and Cleopes feel the same for each other, Amoryus only comes close to look at her "in hope that he comfortyd schuld be yf he myght her behold" (787).
Rather than remaining satisfied with them merely gazing longingly at one another, however, Cleopes establishes a way "to make in love an entre" because "womannys wytt ys [ready] yn soden casys of necessyte" (796-797). She uses an illumination in her prayer book to convey her feelings, hoping only that "yf he wyse be, my menyng he schal perseyve in more and les" (811). (21) In this scene, the picture enables the lovers to pursue a relationship together rather than to love one another from afar. Indeed, without Cleopes's use of her book, the narrative could not continue.
Metham describes the textual illustration Cleopes uses to communicate with Amoryus in detail:
an hynde lying as yt had bene on stonys, Holdyng an hert that bordyryd was wyth trw lovys, Beforn qwyche depeyntyd was a knyght knelyng, Holdyng in one hand an hart, in the odyr [a] ryng. (803-806)
While Stephen Page describes the subject of the illumination as a conventional medieval love allegory where the female deer is the object of a knight's hunt, the traditional dynamic of hunter and hunted is actually altered somewhat in Cleopes's picture. Here, the hind is reclining rather than fleeing from the hunter, and she holds the "hert," or her male counterpart, already in her grasp. Moreover, it is the hunter who kneels submissively before his prey and presents her with his h(e)art (a simultaneous symbol of his love and his masculinity) as well as a ring, to prove his faithfulness and devotion to the lady. Thus, in this configuration, the female holds the power, reserving the option either to accept or reject the knight's offer. It is to this picture that Cleopes gestures animatedly, "wyth her fynger demonstracion / Askauns [As if to say], 'Constrwe now, for my menyng this ys the entencion'" (826-827). Cleopes creates a way for the lovers to communicate; it is very specifically through the medium of a text and the specific conceit it depicts (of which she has a thorough knowledge) that their relationship can progress.
While it is not uncommon to represent lovers using a book as a go-between to declare their feelings for one another in late-medieval literature, (22) it is significant that it is Cleopes who proactively solves the problem of their inability to convey their feelings. Cleopes's knowledge of her devotional text facilitates this communication and sets the tone for their future interactions. Indeed, her textual knowledge, whether devotional or scientific, enables Amoryus to succeed in his chivalric errands.
After Cleopes shows him the illustration in the temple, Amoryus adopts the mode of communication she has established and deploys it to his chivalric benefit. He commissions a painter to "steyn wyth colourys in a kerchyf of a qwarter brede [breadth] / The same conseyt that in Cleopes boke he sey" (858-859) and wears the kerchief openly at the tournament the following day. By replicating her textual sign, Amoryus may respond to Cleopes's expression of love and dedicate himself to her; in essence, Amoryus adopts Cleopes's ad hoc heraldic device, becoming her knight and accepting the patronage relationship she has begun to forge.
Not only does the badge serve to contact Cleopes, it proves to be the token that will ensure his success in the tournament, a talisman to protect the young knight from physical harm or social embarrassment. When Palamedon interrogates his son as to "qwat maner jape or foly" (872) he is wearing, Amoryus replies:
this nyght for a specyal tokyn of vyctory, Venus apperyd, schewing this fygure to me, Byddyng me the symylytude to forme, wyth the qwyche wythowte fayl I schuld have vyctory in every tornyament and bateyl. (873-876)
Amoryus's explanation to his father, while cagey because of his reluctance to reveal the real reason for the badge, is not entirely untrue. By declaring that Venus motivated him to create the emblem, Amoryus appeals to his father's piety and gains his approval without denying the fact that Venus, the goddess of love, was the inspiration behind the drawing itself and Cleopes's choice of the picture as an intermediary for the lovers. (23)
The miniature Amoryus wears, inspired by Venus and chosen by Cleopes out of the many illustrations in her text, serves the knight well throughout the eight-day tournament. Because he fights only "for hys lady['s] sake" (915), Amoryus is able to unseat over forty challengers and win the "laure of Marcyan vyctory" (1004). The subsequent fame and adulation Amoryus enjoys are due as much to Cleopes's industriousness as to his own physical prowess. The "lady sovereyn" (1008) for whose benefit Amoryus fights provides him with more than distant chivalric inspiration; Cleopes's assurance that his affection for her is requited (in the form of the textual symbol through which she establishes their patronage relationship) fosters a confidence in the knight that enables him to succeed in the tournament and to bolster his reputation.
After these initial interventions by the heroine in Amoryus's chivalric development, Metham indulges in a prolonged discussion of scientific information in Amoryus and Cleopes: the dragon lore that Cleopes offers her lover. As with the earlier astronomical information included to explain the workings of the magical sphere, the reader is taken through more than one hundred lines of little more than lists of dangerous serpents and the "remedyis of erbys and stonys" (1268) for their venom. In Book III, after Amoryus and Cleopes have fallen in love, word comes to Palamedon that a dragon is plaguing a neighboring city. When Amoryus tells Cleopes that he has accepted the challenge to fight the dragon, she immediately asks, "but qwat serpent ys yt? qwat do thei yt calle?" (1241). Before Amoryus can reply, however, Cleopes launches into almost ten stanzas of general information on the various venoms of serpents, such as "cokatrycys [basilisks]" (1251), the "draconia" (1253), and the "jaculus" (1259).
Cleopes even offers information on other poisonous animals that can counteract serpent venom: the "tode" and the "aramy [spider]" (1258). Her practical though obscure remedies are helpful to the reader as well as to Amoryus, for those who "fere thise chauncys to endure, / That in desertys must walke, thei purvey wysely [travel prepared]" (1266-1267). For example, if one should meet an "aspys [asp]" (1270), which can spit its venom forty feet (1279), they should drink "jacyntys and orygaun [hyacinth and wild marjoram]" (1284) to counteract it. For sea monsters, such as the "chyldrynys [water adder]," the "ydrys [hydra]," and the "ypotamys [a sea horse with teeth]" (1290), victims may be cured by applying the "egestyon of bolys [dung of bulls]" (1291).
At the conclusion to her long lecture on venomous creatures, Cleopes reaches the dragon that is "in specyal most foo / To alle lyvyng thing" (1292-1293), the serra cornuta. Finally, Amoryus interjects an answer to the question Cleopes posed fifty lines previously: "O! ... lady, that same dragun yt ys / That I schuld fyght wyth" (1296-1297). Cleopes self-consciously reins in her lecturing and says apologetically, "I schal noght gab at alle, but telle yow the trwthys" (1299). At this point, Cleopes's intervention shifts from purely informational to practical, bestowing on the young knight the "charmys" (1300) he will need to defeat the dragon:
In the begynnyng, loke that yowre harnes be sure for onything, And abovyn alle curyd wyth rede. And on sted of yowr helme, set a bugyl gapyng; (24) A bryght carbunkyl loke ther be set in the forhed. And in yowr hand, halde that ylke ryng Wyth the smaraged [emerald] that I here delyveryd yow this odyr day. Loke that the stone be toward hys eyn alwey. (1310-1316)
Furthermore, Amoryus must drink an elaborate concoction of wine, herbs, and ground stones or jewels because "alle venymmus thyng[s] fleyth fro her breth [their aroma]" (1329). Thus we witness in Cleopes's actions here not just a deployment of helpful knowledge but also the "Medea-like" giving of functional gifts. (25) Drawing on the extended natural-science lecture she has just given, Cleopes distills the encyclopedic information into a few key points that directly apply to the situation at hand. She further acts as Amoryus's patron when she presents him with the necessary tools to succeed in his chivalric endeavor. 
Hardin Craig suggests that Cleopes's knowledge of herbs and medicine "belonged to the education of a young lady in the Middle Ages and it is not surprising that it extended itself to all sorts of magic and sorcery." (27) However, Cleopes's text-based education, while probably gleaned from English translations of Latin, Greek, and Arabic sources rather than the originals, goes far beyond the practical, quotidian medical skills of the average young medieval woman. (28) Her knowledge of dragon taxonomy and the remedies for venomous bites is practical only because she is speaking with a knight who is about to enter combat with a hundred-foot serpent. Cleopes repeatedly refers to her sources as the more obscure encyclopedic texts of "clerkys" (1245 and 1295) rather than the household knowledge of the medicinal benefits of local herbs and minerals passed down from mother to daughter.
By the same token, Cleopes's expertise does not stray into the realm of sorcery any more than it remains in the domestic sphere. Metham is quite clear about his depiction of sorcery or "nygromancy" (471) in the character of Venus's secretary, the craftsman employed to create the sphere. Rather than the innocuous "erbys and stonys" (1268) that Cleopes uses, the secretary combines "gold, sylver and precyus stonys" (487) with a "multytyde of mennys bonys" (489). With this concoction, he conjures the "damnyd spyrytys" (491), seven hundred thousand to be exact, that will power the constantly moving sphere, performing an abomination to gain demonic power. Although Cleopes is a pagan throughout much of the romance, there is no indication that her scientific knowledge has its basis in the occult. As Metham does throughout the romance, Cleopes invokes authorities for her knowledge of dragons and natural remedies. At the beginning of her lecture, she notes that of this particular wisdom "clerkys wryte, of gret and smal, / [Their] namys and naturys, and qwerein they noy [do harm] be kend natural [according to their nature]" (1245-1246). Cleopes returns to these unnamed scholars when she discusses the most harmful dragon: "And serra cornuta yt ys namyd be clerkys" (1295). (29)
Although Cleopes's intervention is often rife with encyclopedic references to obscure scientific facts, the heroine plays a critical role as the patron and facilitator of Amoryus's chivalric career when she advises him on the correct way to slay the "serra cornuta." Amoryus accepts the challenge because if he succeeds, "of Amoryus men wryte schal / That he a dragon dyd sle be hys manhed in specyal" (1203-1204). While his father merely expresses the skeptical hope that the challenge will not result in the young knight's death, Cleopes offers a guarantee that Amoryus's specific desire for renown will be realized. If he follows her directions, she asserts:
I dar sey savely [safely] That ye schal come hole and sound wyth victory; And aftyr qwyl ye lyve, be had the more in reputacion. Thys ys the fulle sentens of my counsel and conclusyon. (1335-1338)
After claiming victory over the dragon, Amoryus returns to Albynest, where Cleopes's predictions prove true:
[The people] must nedys hym magnyfy wyth alle her myght, And hym excellent weryour and most hardy knyght Ever to name qwyl that her lyvys wold endure, To love hym beforn yche erthly creature. (1539-1542)
Thus it is not only by his manhood but also by Cleopes's expertise that Amoryus triumphs over the dragon. Indeed, she warns him, "but ye be reulyd be me, / Thow ye were as myghty as Sampson, ded ye schuld be" (1301-1302).
Ultimately, Amoryus's hopes for a distinctly masculine achievement and renown are somewhat compromised. When his story is written by Metham, the headnote to the romance in the Garrett manuscript gives credit where it is due: "Thys ys the story of a knyght, howe he dyd many wurthy dedys be the help of a lady, the qwyche taught hym to overcome a mervulus dragon" (Headnote, 1-2). Both Amoryus and the audience of Metham's romance witness the extent to which chivalric success depends upon the timely and thorough intervention of a female patron and lover. (30) Thus the scientific material in Amoryus and Cleopes provides more for Metham's narrative than a tinge of the exotic or erudite. The long treatises on astronomy and natural science, only loosely tied to the romance narrative, afford authorial credibility to both Metham and his heroine, allow Cleopes the opportunity to bring about genuine change in the life of her young knight, and function as a kind of reference book, a steady scientific background on which the religious conversion will take place.
Whatever Amoryus and Cleopes may lack in technical finesse, it makes up for in its wholly original Christian ending to a classical narrative: the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. This new ending emphasizes both religious conversion and the mitigation of paganism and is arguably the best example of Metham's considerable literary ambition in the romance. Throughout the Middle Ages the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe served as an Ovidian archetype of ill-fated love. (31) Metham appropriates the majority of the Ovidian version for Amoryus and Cleopes-including the lovers' communication through a fortuitous crack in the wall and the double suicide at the well-but ends his romance with the lovers' resurrection and conversion rather than their deaths.
Despite the inspiration Metham draws from his classical source, Book IV of Amoryus and Cleopes is wholly original, supplying a Christian ending to the tragic conclusion of Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe tale. Ultimately, this new ending confirms that the scientific material which is so important to Metham's text and Cleopes's mode of patronage remains compatible with Christianity. Yet it also introduces a new aspect to Cleopes's participation in the romance; she not only sponsors Amoryus intellectually and tangibly, she also learns alongside her new love. They learn Christianity simultaneously rather than maintaining the strict model of patron and client, where the female sponsor teaches and directs the development of a young man. This collaborative learning, however, does not overshadow or replace the influence Cleopes has in Amoryus's life; rather, it mirrors the kind of equal and joint literary sponsorship of Katherine and Miles Stapleton, the actual patrons of Metham's romance.
As the lovers commit suicide because of a mistaken reading of the bloody handkerchief, a Christian hermit living nearby hears Cleopes's death cries. When the hermit continues praying, he has a divine revelation that he "was ment for the soulys savacion" (1826) of the people of the region. Upon seeing the dead lovers, the hermit prays to both Jesus and Mary that they "wold / Hem turne to lyfe yf thei krynsnyd wold be" (1837-1838). As he prays, the hermit lifts the lifeless bodies and declares, "yowre soulys into yowr bodyis / Entyr may ayen, fro the powere of the fend" (1864-1865). Amoryus and Cleopes return to life singing "Salve ... regina mater misericordye" (1876), a famous medieval antiphon, for it was Mary who saved their souls from hell. They beg the hermit: "Make us Krystyn and teche us the wey ryght" (1892).
Following their baptism, the hermit leads Amoryus and Cleopes back to Albynest and finds the people praying to the pagan sphere for the children's safe return. The hermit chastises the people for their idol worship and performs an exorcism on the temple, banishing the demons that were locked in the sphere. The people of Albynest witness the exorcism and, seeing the lovers' scars, which are "the tokynnys of ther woundys" (1969), they cry "Anone us krystyn make, wythowte delay, everychone" (2029). Before returning to his life in the wilderness, the hermit marries Amoryus and Cleopes in a Christian ceremony and establishes priests to remain in Albynest and teach the people the tenets of their new religion. (32)
Throughout the majority of the romance, the scientific information is introduced in conjunction with pagan ritual (with the temple sphere) or the chivalric acts, such as jousting and dragon-slaying, that Cleopes's patronage abets. Whereas the conversion narrative severs the connection between paganism and science by condemning one and leaving the other intact, it does not necessarily eradicate science altogether. Instead, Metham links science with Christianity, suggesting that the two categories can profitably coexist. Thus the focus of the heroine's sponsorship remains an important part of Amoryus's new identity as a fully matured Christian knight. Book IV of the romance illustrates Metham's "conversion" of science from the pagan to the Christian realm. Although the doctrine of Christianity officially supplants paganism, it does not undermine the validity of secular activities or the scientific information Metham has so conscientiously provided for his audience throughout the text. Both aspects of secularity in Amoryus and Cleopes are ultimately represented as part of a good Christian life.
The hermit's instruction of the two lovers just after their resurrection notably connects their previous religion with worldliness rather than the more egregious worship of false gods. Before the hermit agrees to baptize Amoryus and Cleopes, they must vow "to forsake alle the custum and governauns / Of paynymys secte" (1902-1903). Rather than imposing the Christian prohibition against idol worship--the first of the Ten Commandments and one of the primary elements of doctrinal instruction in the Middle Ages--the hermit begins an indictment of the transitory nature of the world. (33) During his lesson, the hermit reminds the lovers that "this world faryth as a feyre [fire], ever onstabyl" (1906) and if they "sofyr [i.e., endure] ... thise transytory thingys" (1909), they will reap the "joys incomperabyl" (1908) of Heaven. "For Cryst seyth," the hermit continues, "that ful streyt [difficult] yt ys / A wordely wyse man to entyr hevyn blysse" (1910-1911).
Rather than insisting that Amoryus and Cleopes ask for forgiveness and perform penance for their suicides and idol worship, the hermit merely encourages them to turn their attention away from the impermanent world they now occupy and to concentrate instead on the everlasting world available to Christians after death. Too much of their attention, he suggests, has been turned toward worldly pursuits like tournaments, building temples, and slaying dragons. (34) These activities, conducted in large part to increase Amoryus's personal fame, seem to be the elements of pagan worldliness which must give way to Christianity. Their most extreme trespass, the one Metham counters explicitly with the hermit's teachings, is their total focus on the transitory world and personal advancement in it rather than the eternal one.
For the rest of the doctrinal information essential for newly converted Christians, Metham simply notes in passing that "of alle odyr thingys necessary, / Thys ermyght enformyd them fully in the feyth" (1912-1913). In this episode, the hermit appears to condemn all worldly activities as incompatible with Christianity. Soon after the hermit's lesson, however, Metham demonstrates that chivalric activities and worldly love--the very things Cleopes's patronage cultivates--are acceptable as long as they are part of a Christian culture.
In the final book of Amoryus and Cleopes, the misguided classical paganism the audience has pitied throughout the romance is demonized briefly and then eradicated and supplanted by Christianity. Once he has resurrected and converted Amoryus and Cleopes, the hermit does not expect that a love of a Christian God will supplant their love for one another. Rather, he expresses regret that two "so semly personys" should have committed suicide (1920) and inquires, "is [your] love ... as gret now as yt was before" (1924)? Amoryus claims that his feelings for Cleopes have never been greater, and Cleopes answers that she is "wyth hert, wyll, and body, / Goddys and this knytys" (1930-1931; emphasis added). Although they have been converted to Christianity, they still share an earthly but virtuous affection for one another.
Prior to their deaths, the two lovers intended to spend the day in "lovely dalyauns ... / Of that sqweete and plesaunt observauns" (1572-1574); their clandestine meeting is planned while they are fueled by the "flame of veneryan dysyre" (1549). Indeed, the sinful tryst is stopped just short of completion; Cleopes spills the "roseat blod of [her] pure maydynhede" (1764) when she stabs herself rather than when she consummates her relationship with Amoryus as she had intended. After their religious conversion, however, Cleopes still dedicates her soul and body to both Amoryus and Christ. In his Christian conclusion to the lovers' tribulations, Metham endeavors to reconcile caritas, or a love that transcends the secular world, with cupiditas, or passion. (35) Earthly love is not entirely supplanted by religious love; it is only placed within and legitimized by the structure of Christianity. Thus the pagan passion they almost indulged in the woods becomes a pious marriage sanctioned by God.
While the hermit strictly chastises the people of Albynest for their worship of demons, even ordaining "prestys and clerkys" (2074) to continue the Christian teachings after he is gone, the lessons he offers to the lovers--to avoid concentrating on earthly things--seem much more negotiable. Metham reports that Amoryus and Cleopes share a life of "long felycyte" (2087) in which Amoryus rules Albynest while "ever encresyd in goode fame" (2080). Amoryus receives the personal renown he craved before his conversion not only through the acts of jousting and dragon-slaying--acts that were facilitated through his lover's patronage--but by governing his country "in joy, honour, and tranqwyllyte" (2081). The couple also have many "beuteus" children who "rychely / were beset" (2085-2086).
When their long lives are complete, Amoryus and Cleopes simultaneously "yeld ... ther spyrytys to God" (2088) and are buried "in a tumbe of marbyl gray, / Platyd wyth ymagys of gold" (2089-2090). They are entombed with as much wealth and luxury as they enjoyed during their lives. Even if the hermit's lifestyle--living alone in the woods, "expendyng in prayere solytary" (2077)--is offered as a way to "eternal felycyte" (2079), Metham illustrates how good Christians may reap the benefits of both the worlds. Indeed, Metham's story never suggests that the hermit, a solitary, chaste, religious recluse, lives the better Christian life. Rather, the conclusion to the romance suggests that a Christian can enjoy both earthly pleasures and eternal ones and that a woman's patronage is fundamental to cultivating both. Thus Metham signals to his readers that natural science, chivalric pursuits, and Christianity are not mutually exclusive but are equally important to the lives of his patrons.
Amoryus and Cleopes is quite unique among late-medieval romances in that both the narrative and the manuscript in which it appears contain the unquestionable identification of the author's patrons: Lady Katherine and Sir Miles Stapleton. Since almost all Metham's works, both extant and lost, are dedicated to the Stapletons, we can assume that he spent a significant portion of his literary career under their patronage in Norfolk. (36) Although Metham's praise of each of his patrons is equally fulsome in Amoryus and Cleopes, the characteristics he emphasizes in each and the specificity with which he enumerates them vary significantly. Most critical treatments of Amoryus and Cleopes, including Craig's and Page's editions, consider Miles's and Katherine's patronage together. Indeed, both patrons are mentioned in the encomium section of the romance, and Metham's "Go now, lytyl boke" envoy asks the text to "Enterly me comende to my lord and mastyr eke, / And to hys ryght reverend lady" (2179-2180). As I discuss above, Amoryus's and Cleopes's simultaneous introduction to the tenets of Christianity corroborates the notion that women patrons may act and grow collaboratively while still maintaining their individual influence.
Despite the joint praise of the couple, Metham's praise of Sir Miles remains somewhat vague. Metham begins his tribute by "mervelyng gretly that noght nowe, as in eldtyme, / Men do noght wryte knyghtys dedys nowdyr in prose ner ryme" (2106-2107). He ascribes the dearth of knightly tales either to the "encresyng of vexacion" (2108) in late-medieval politics or to a lack of talent in medieval authors. Apparently, however, one modern English knight living in "este Ynglond" (2118) springs to Metham's mind. Like Amoryus, who lived his life as a "flowre of knyghthod" and as a "defensor of the cuntre, [and] keper of pes contynwalle" (2094-2096), Miles Stapleton lives a life of "gret prosperyte" (2117) with a "prudent porte of governans" (2118) and success in "Marcys chauns [battle]" (2119). Amoryus's father, Palamedon, is described in the romance as the most devout and powerful Roman warrior and a close confidante of emperor Nero; his mother was a descendent of Darius, the former Persian emperor. Similarly, Miles is:
nobyl of lynage The qwyche decendyth of a gretyd aunsetre Of nobyl werrourrys that successyvely, be veray [true] maryage, The t[w]o and fyfty knyght ys computate to hys age. (2123-2126) (37)
Metham does not elaborate further on Miles's "gretyd aunsetre," choosing instead to refer the audience to his other works and insisting that "of hys [Stapleton's] dedys" he still has "many to wryte; / I purpose in odyr placys in specyall them endyghte" (2148-2149). (38)
Although both she and her husband were Metham's patrons, his praise of Katherine in Amoryus and Cleopes shows much more detail and specificity in honoring her admirable qualities. Throughout the several stanzas dedicated to praising Miles, Metham refers to him primarily as a modern-day "knyght" and a "wurthy werryur" (2134). Only after advertising his other texts does Metham give a name to his "champyon" (2137). When he turns to Katherine, however, she is named immediately, and all his comments are geared toward cultivating and cementing her patronage.
Metham begins his encomium to the Lady Katherine as he does her husband's, with a reference to her lineage. Whereas Miles's "gretyd aunsetre" (2124) is not named or traced specifically, Katherine has "decens be ryght lynage / Of wurthy and excellent stok lyneally / That Poolys men clepe" (2151-2153). Her legitimate family pedigree is as important as Miles's; after all, the Stapleton family maintained their position only by "veray maryage" (2125). Metham goes a step further in detailing Katherine's lineage by naming one of her powerfully connected relatives: her cousin, William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk (1396-1450). (39) The duke of Suffolk was a patron of John Lydgate, one of Metham's greatest influences, (40) and it is not by chance that Metham pauses to remark on a specific relative of Katherine's who is in particular a well-known literary patron. Perhaps by referring to Suffolk Metham is reminding Katherine that she comes from a family that supports literature; perhaps he is even attempting to secure the patronage of the de la Poles as well as the Stapletons. Whether the ultimate goal is to reaffirm Katherine's support or to procure the sponsorship of her family, Metham's concentration on Katherine in the final section of Amoryus and Cleopes indicates that he considers her goodwill to be key to his success.
When Metham indicates how he would like his book to be passed down to future readers, the lady Katherine is implicated in his wishes for the romance. For those readers, he writes, "the qwyche be nowe onborne," who "qwan this lady ys pasyd, schal rede this story, / ... thei for her schal pray on evyn and morne" (2157-2159). Not only will Amoryus and Cleopes continue to be read after his patron's death, the story will place the future reader in immediate remembrance of Katherine. Even strangers who were not acquainted with the lady during her life will know enough about Katherine's character from the romance to pray for her after she is gone. This suggestion provides Katherine with an excellent reason to continue Metham's patronage; the more biographical encomia he writes for her, the more prayers she will receive. Although the patronage relationship between Katherine and Metham likely includes some aspect of financial compensation, the currency referred to in this passage goes beyond the monetary, outlining instead a connection predicated on esteem and poetic inspiration. Thus Katherine's comprehensive acts of intellectual and financial patronage during her lifetime extend well beyond her death, transcending any initial economic investment she or her family have made in Metham's work.
In addition to securing prayers for Katherine's soul, Metham grants her a certain amount of immortality in his dedication, which he calls "this memory" (2160). (41) His memorialization of Katherine reads like a blazon of womanly perfection:
sche was namyd communly Modyr of norture, in her behavyng usyng alle gentylnes, Ever redy to help them that were in troubyl and hevynes. So beuteus eke and so benyngn, that yche creature Here [Her] gretly magnyfyid, commendyng her womanhede In alle her behavyngs, ireprehensybyl and demure And ... sche toke gret heede To the necessyteys of the pore, relevyng them at every nede. (2161-2168)
Metham's extended praise of Katherine encompasses not only the standard womanly characteristics of beauty, virtue, and gentleness but also her more specific role as a common nurturer of all those she knew, her ability to help others in "hevynes" (2163), (42) and her generosity toward the poor. As with his depiction of her husband, Metham refers the audience to one of his other works for more about Katherine: "Of her beute and vertuys, here I sese; for yt ys so, / I hem declare in Crysaunt, and odyr placys mo" (2169-2170). (43) Having ceased in his direct praise of Katherine's attributes, however, Metham continues indirectly by comparing her to well-known literary figures. He regrets that he lacks the talent to represent his patron's qualities faithfully, wishing that he possessed "as gret a style ... / As Chauncerys" (2172-2173). Metham lists the exemplary female characters about which Chaucer writes: "qwene Eleyne or Cresseyd," and "Polyxchene, Grysyld, or Penelope" (2173-2174). (44) The lady Katherine, Metham claims, is "as beuteus, as womanly, [and] as pacyent as thei were wunt to be" (2175).
Just as Metham connects Miles with the character of Amoryus, highlighting his military accomplishments and noble ancestry, so the parallel Metham meticulously establishes between his lady patron and Chaucer's literary heroines begs the reader to consider the connections between Katherine and Cleopes. After all, Amoryus and Cleopes is a memorial text to her, one that will remind future readers of Katherine's virtues even after her death. However, aside from Cleopes's noble family and her surpassing beauty, what aspects of Cleopes's character might parallel most significantly with the lady Stapleton? Not only is Katherine beautiful, generous, and patient, she is the patron of a text that combines elements of the traditional chivalric romance, a genre often characterized as women's reading, with a practical knowledge of herbs, dragon taxonomy, and astronomical treatises. (45) Lee Ramsey asserts that "there are really only two kinds of heroines in romance: the vacuous and inactive object of the hero's desire and the lady in distress." (46) Metham's heroine, however, plays neither of these passive roles. Cleopes is the guardian of much textual knowledge; she is the problem-solver in her relationship with Amoryus; and she acts as the patron of his chivalric career.
Metham specifically makes his heroine's contribution to the narrative extend far beyond the vapid object of the hero's desire. It also exceeds both of Craig's categories of an educated female character: a purveyor of homespun remedies or a sorceress. Rather, Metham characterizes Cleopes as a savvy scholar, one who uses her knowledge of religious and secular scientific texts to facilitate a relationship with the man she loves and to keep him alive during his solitary masculine errands. Furthermore, she is converted to Christianity along with her lover and then embarks on a life of spiritual and earthly success secured in large part by her intellectual and practical sponsorship. With the listing of Chaucer's major literary heroines, future readers of Metham's text-perhaps even Katherine herself-could reflect upon the patroness's beauty, patience, and virtue. By reading about Cleopes, they could reflect on Katherine's intelligence and the value placed on the scientific texts that she and her husband commissioned.
It is telling that Metham wrote such a romance for a woman patron; the tale is entertaining, moral enough to read on holy days, and provides comprehensive information on astronomy and natural science. Considering that the other text Metham explicitly dedicates to Katherine is "Crysaunt," most likely a translation of a farming manual that treats of, among other subjects, animal husbandry and winemaking, Amoryus and Cleopes is not a metrical failure or an incongruous collection of scientific translation and fragments of romantic episodes. Rather it is a carefully selected and highly appropriate work for his female patron.
University of North Carolina-Greensboro
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(1.) See, e.g., Karl Julius Holzknecht, Literary Patronage in the Middle Ages (New York: Octagon Books, 1966); Joel T. Rosenthal, "Aristocratic Cultural Patronage and Book Bequests, 1350-1500," John Rylands Library Bulletin 64 (1981-1982): 522-548; and more recently Loveday Lewes Gee, Women, Art and Patronage from Henry III to Edward III, 1216-1377 (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2002). These influential studies of medieval patronage have been valuable but also restrictive because of their attention to material elements such as the exchange of money or prestigious political appointments; they privilege such materiality at the expense of a broader continuum that encompasses both tangible and intangible support. This narrow conception of patronage excludes most women from a vital aspect of medieval culture; only the most wealthy and to some extent independent aristocratic women could afford to sponsor literary, architectural, and cultural productions in the Middle Ages through strictly financial means.
(2.) June Hall McCash, "The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women: An Overview," in The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, ed. June Hall McCash and Stephen G. Nichols (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996), 1-49; Joan Ferrante, To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997); and Karen K. Jambeck, "Patterns of Women's Literary Patronage: England, 1200-ca. 1475," in Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, ed. June Hall McCash and Stephen G. Nichols (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996), 228-265. See also D. H. Green, "Chapter 4: Women's Engagement with Literature," in Women Readers in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 179-255. Green specifically counters the narrow representation of patronage espoused in K. M. Broadhurst, "Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patrons of Literature in French?" Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 27 (1996): 53-84. Broadhurst, Green asserts, confines herself to the "restrictive sense of 'the remuneration bestowed by the patron on the author,' to the exclusion of any other encouragement" (Green, Women Readers, 204). Mary Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski also set out to "broaden ... the conventional understanding of power as public authority"; see Mary C. Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski, eds., "Introduction," in Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), 1-17 ; I would suggest that part of that broadened understanding is a rejection of financially based discourses of power.
(3.) Joan Ferrante, "Whose Voice? The Influence of Women Patrons on Courtly Romances," in Literary Aspects of Courtly Culture, ed. Donald Maddox and Sara Sturm-Maddox (Rochester, NY: Boydell and Brewer, 1994), 3-18, 4.
(4.) While I seek to expand the concept of patronage in the Middle Ages to include acts of influence that are not monetarily based, I remain conscious of the risks of expanding the notion of patronage beyond critical usefulness. In this article, I follow Ferrante's policy of using the terms "patronage" and "sponsorship" interchangeably. Green notes that he differs from Ferrante in her use of the term "patronage" to refer to the act of supporting the writer or artist with "intellectual, emotional, and sometimes financial help" (Ferrante, "Whose Voice?" 4). Rather, Green prefers the "wider term 'sponsors'" (Green, Women Readers, 205). However, I adopt Ferrante's terminology because this article is invested in reevaluating the concept of medieval patronage as not necessarily financially based; to adopt the term "sponsorship" to refer to a "wider" category of influence would undermine that reassessment.
(5.) For a discussion of this mode of learning, see Rebecca Krug, Reading Families: Women's Literate Practice in Late Medieval England (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002); and Susan Groag Bell, "Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture," Signs 7.4 (Summer 1982): 742-768. One particularly rich example of these influential female networks is the women in the Neville and Beaufort families. See Jambeck, "Patterns," 228-265.
(6.) Metham informs his audience that he is writing his romance in "the sevyn and twenty yere of the sext Kyng Henry," or 1449 (2177). All line number citations from the romance and the other texts (cited by page number) in Princeton University Library, MS Garrett 141 are taken from Hardin Craig, ed., The Works of John Metham, EETS o.s. 132 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1916). Page's TEAMS edition of the romance alone, Stephen F. Page, ed., Amoryus and Cleopes (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1999), updates Hardin Craig's textual apparatus and transcribes the final ten erased lines of Amoryus and Cleopes, parts of which are now visible under ultraviolet light (2213-2222). References to these recovered lines are taken from Page's edition.
(7.) Several scholars have discussed the increased patronage and literary activity of medieval women after becoming widows because of the greater financial and social freedom to pursue these activities. For example, Anne Neville Stafford (ca. 1414-1480) and her daughter-in-law Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509) both of whom became active literary sponsors after they were widowed.
(8.) We may also turn to an example found in William Caxton's Prologue to the chivalric romance Blanchardyn and Eglantine (1489). This English translation was undertaken at the behest of Margaret Beaufort (Caxton had previously produced it for her in French); in his Prologue, Caxton suggests that reading a tale of the "noble fayttes and valiaunt actes of armes" is better than studying "ouer moche in bokes of contemplacioun"; W. J. B. Crotch, The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton, EETS o.s. 176 (London: Oxford University Press, 1928), 105. For more on Margaret Beaufort's patronage of Caxton's translation, see Jennifer Summit, "William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort and the Romance of Female Patronage," in Women, The Book, and the Worldly: Selected Proceedings of the St. Hilda's Conference, 1993, ed. Lesley Smith and Jane H. M. Taylor (Cambridge, UK: Brewer, 1995), 151-165; and Anne Clark Bartlett, "Translation, Self-Representation, and Statecraft: Lady Margaret Beaufort and Caxton's Blanchardyn and Eglantine (1489)," Essays in Medieval Studies 22 (2005): 53-66.
(9.) While this article considers primarily the nonromance sources used in Amoryus and Cleopes, Metham does draw significantly from the romance legends of Alexander the Great, which were popular in the late Middle Ages. Not only does Metham claim to have written a (no longer extant) story titled "Alexander Macedo" (Craig, Works of John Metham, 2143) for Miles Stapleton, but the narrative of Amoryus and Cleopes shows signs of this tradition's influence as well. For example, Craig suggests that Palamedon's and Dydas's marriages to Persian wives "off the lynage / Of Daryus" (ibid., 43-44) establishes a link between Metham's text and the Alexander legend (ibid., xiv). For further connections between Amoryus and Cleopes and other traditional materials, such as Lydgate's Troy Book and popular English romances, see ibid., xiii-xix; and Page, Amoryus and Cleopes, 8-15.
(10.) This combination of narrative elements serves Metham's purposes but has not recommended the romance to modern literary criticism. However, Amoryus and Cleopes's low status in the eyes of modern scholarship is the result not of the many different kinds of material included in its narrative, a combination of which is often found in medieval romances, but rather of the long translations of scientific treatises and Metham's metrical ineptitude compared to other contemporary authors such as Lydgate. In several of his works on fifteenth-century English literature, Derek Pearsall remarks on Amoryus and Cleopes's "metrical chaos" (Pearsall, "The English Chaucerians," in Chaucer and Chaucerians: Critical Studies in Middle English Literature, ed. D. S. Brewer [Huntsville: University of Alabama Press, 1967], 206), and the "technical ... incompetence [which] make[s] it almost unreadable" (Pearsall, "The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century," Essays and Studies n.s. 29 : 69). Lee Ramsey chooses to indict the author for his "unskilled but serious-minded" attempt to write "a sentimental, pathetic love story" and "plunder ... traditional romance for a jousting contest and a dragon fight to enliven the action" (Ramsey, Chivalric Romances: Popular Literature in Medieval England [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983], 226). Technical inadequacies and generic looting aside, Metham's text is undoubtedly bookish, a fact that leads Ramsey to declare that he was not "a romance writer, but rather a translator" (ibid., 225). Indeed, the long and seemingly unnecessary digressions into secular scientific material on astronomy and natural philosophy, which already appear incompatible with the more traditionally chivalric episodes, are particularly at odds with the resurrection and conversion narrative that concludes the tale. The text's objectionability for critics, however, lies not in its fusion of various secular and devotional genres but in the inelegant way they are combined.
(11.) The works of John Metham seem to have had a small readership in the late fifteenth century, perhaps limited to the Stapletons and their literary circle, which included the Pastons and Sir John Fastolf, and have seen little scholarly attention since then. For more on the literary circles in fifteenth-century Norfolk and Suffolk, see Samuel Moore, "Patrons of Letters in Norfolk and Suffolk, c.1450," PMLA 27 (1912): 188-207.
(12.) R. M. Lumiansky, "Legends of Alexander the Great," in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English; Fascicule I: Romances, ed. J. Burke Severs (New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1967), 112.
(13.) Jamie Fumo reads Cleopes's rehearsal of dragon lore as "extravagant ... distracting and largely unintegrated"; Jamie Fumo, "John Metham's 'Straunge Style': Amoryus and Cleopes as Chaucerian Fragment," Chaucer Review 43.2 (2008): 215-237, 224. Furthermore, the jousting and dragon fighting scenes, she suggests, not only distract from the love story (they are "mood-killing") but also seem to be "indulged merely as romance necessity" (ibid., 224). However, judging from the centrality of the scientific material and chivalric pursuits within the romance and within the Garrett manuscript Metham prepared for his patrons, Cleopes's act of intellectual patronage at this point in the narrative is highly appropriate and timely.
(14.) In addition to Amoryus and Cleopes, the Garrett manuscript also includes treatises on physiognomy and palmistry and a set of prognostications based on the phases of the moon.
(15.) The term "science" in the Middle Ages often referred to a general body of knowledge or more specifically to book learning. Science was also part of the seven liberal arts (or sciences): grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic or logic (the trivium) and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the quadrivium). See Edward Grant, "Medieval Science and Natural Philosophy," in Medieval Studies: An Introduction, ed. James M. Powell (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 353-375, for a comprehensive outline of the development of all branches of medieval science and its place as a critical source for the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.
(16.) Fumo, "John Metham's 'Straunge Style,'" 228.
(17.) Page provides a helpful explanatory note for this passage: "That he could treat each person with respect according to their rank because of [his] educated nobility" (Page, Amoryus and Cleopes, 34, n. 1).
(18.) Fumo, "John Metham's 'Straunge Style,'" 228-229, also discusses these three scenes, concluding that Palamedon's reactions to Amoryus's behavior constitute both an active interest in the young knight's chivalric progress and "the most substantial obstacle--albeit a symbolic and unintentional one-to the protagonist's otherwise seemingly unobstructed love" (ibid., 229). However, I read Palamedon's influence on his son as negligible.
(19.) This is the same earthquake that opens up the convenient crack in the wall between Amoryus's and Cleopes's gardens, allowing the lovers to communicate with one another.
(20.) The parallels between Amoryus's feelings of sudden love in this scene and the temple scene in Troilus and Criseyde are striking and suggest that Metham knew Chaucer's text well enough to imitate even the smallest of details in his account of the lovers' first meeting.
(21.) Metham's use of a textual device at this key point in the narrative is interesting. At the beginning of the romance, Metham pauses in his preface to the romance to describe why he is translating Amoryus and Cleopes: "noqwere in Latyne ner Englysch I coulde yt aspye, / But in Grwe Y had yt, wrytyn--lymynyd bryght " (58-59). Rather than simply dismiss a manuscript written in a language he cannot read, Metham asks "lettyryd clerkys" (62) about the content of the book and takes advantage of a Greek's arrival in Norwich to procure a Latin translation of the romance. His interest, he explains, is entirely piqued by the "lettyrys of gold that gay were wrowght to the ye" (60). The manuscript's beautiful illuminations, he continues, "causyd me to mervel that yt so gloryusly / Was adornyd, and oftyn I enqwyryd ... / Qwat yt myght be that poyntyd was wyth so merwulus werkys" (61-63). Metham's detailed description of his own interest in manuscript illumination is recalled in the specificity he affords the depiction of Cleopes's picture. The character of Cleopes, like Metham and, hopefully, Amoryus, recognizes the impact and utility of illuminations as much as written text.
(22.) Page, Amoryus and Cleopes, 113.
(23.) It is apt that Amoryus credits Venus for his chivalric badge, as it is in the temple of Venus that he first sees Cleopes. During the ceremony, Amoryus uses the procession of the goddess's statue as an excuse to kneel in mock obeisance and examine the picture Cleopes shows him (818-821).
(24.) Page suggests that this could refer to heraldic helmet crests, which became popular in the late Middle Ages. Also, an oxlike animal is the crest of the Metham family in Yorkshire (Page, Amoryus and Cleopes, 120).
(25.) Fumo, "John Metham's 'Straunge Style,'" 224. Metham, Craig notes, draws considerably from the depiction of Medea in John Lydgate's Troy Book (Craig, Works of John Metham, 161-162). The women share comparable learning, and Medea offers a similar assurance that Jason will be killed in his endeavors without her help: "For noon but I may helpen ... / In pis case" (John Lydgate, Lydgate's Troy Book, Part I, ed. Henry Bergen, EETS e.s. 97 [London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1906], 2580-2581). Most significantly, however, Cleopes's gifts almost directly parallel Medea's. The "riche ymage of siluer" that works against "magyk and al enchauntemente" (2998-3002) is similar to Cleopes's "bugyl gapyng" (Craig, Works of John Metham, 1312), and the "oyntement, / To enoynte hym with, pat he be nat brent" (Lydgate, Troy Book, 3015-3016) is analogous to the potion Cleopes gives her love to protect him from venomous beasts. Finally, Medea gives Jason an agate ring (assuring him that "who-so-euer in his hond hit holde, / By vertu pat was infallible" [Lydgate, Troy Book, 3028-3029]), which closely parallels the emerald ring Cleopes instructs Amoryus to hold in his hand during the battle (Craig, Works of John Metham, 1314).
(26.) The giving of enchanted gifts such as rings and other accoutrements to knights before battle or chivalric errands is a commonplace in medieval romance. See, e.g., the Breton lay Emare, where two separate women give the hero a magical ring and two magical hunting dogs. The difference between this instance (and others like it throughout the romance tradition) and the gift-giving and acts of sponsorship I outline in this article is that Cleopes's offerings are part of a larger program wherein the romance heroine deploys comprehensive knowledge and influence over the knight's chivalric identity and success.
(27.) Craig, Works of John Metham, 162.
(28.) Most medieval women did have some sort of training in the art of healing, such as basic first aid, setting broken bones, midwifery, and using herbs to combat illness. Two women in particular, Trotula of Salerno and Hildegard of Bingen, wrote medieval treatises about and for women. For more on the role of medieval women in medicine, see Monica H. Green, The Trotula: A Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine, ed. and trans. Monica H. Green (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001); also Monica H. Green, "Documenting Medieval Women's Medical Practice," in Practical Medicine from Salerno to the Black Death, ed. Luis Garcia-Ballester (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 322-353; and Monica H. Green, Women's Healthcare in the Medieval West: Texts and Contexts (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2000). Out of the three main Trotula texts, only one--the Trotula Minor--seems to have been actually written by a woman.
(29.) While Metham identifies no particular sources for Cleopes's encyclopedic knowledge, Page claims that Metham must have been familiar with texts such as medieval bestiaries and Trevisa's translation of De proprietatibus rerum, both of which discuss and describe poisonous animals at length. Metham could also have gathered his knowledge of stones and medicinal plants from comprehensive works like Trevisa's or from medieval lapidaries and herbals. For examples of medieval bestiaries, see Richard Barber, ed., Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford M.S. Bodley 764: with all the Original Miniatures Reproduced in Facsimile (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1993); T. J. Elliott, ed. and trans., A Medieval Bestiary (Boston: Godine, 1971); and Debra Hassig, ed., The Mark of the Beast: The Medieval Bestiary in Art, Life, and Literature (New York: Garland, 1999). For medieval lapidaries and herbals, see Joan Evans and Mary S. Sergeantson, eds., English Medieval Lapidaries, EETS 190 (London: Oxford University Press, 1960); Pol Grymonprez, ed., "Here Men May Se the Vertues off Herbes": A Middle English Herbal (MS. Bodley 483, ff. 57r-67v) (Brussels: Scripta, 1981); and Pol Grymonprez, ed., A Medieval Herbal (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994).
(30.) In a testament to the importance this increased knightly status holds for Amoryus, when the young man commits suicide toward the end of the romance, he enumerates the loss of each part of the chivalric life Cleopes has helped him attain, seeming to mourn the individual trappings of knighthood--"aventurys new," "myry cumpany," "fame and vyctory" (1711-1713)--more than his lover.
(31.) Ovid's story of Pyramus and Thisbe was one of the most widely disseminated works from the Metamorphoses after becoming a popular subject of Latin rhetorical exercises in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. See Robert Glendinning, "Pyramus and Thisbe in the Medieval Classroom," Speculum 61.1 (1986): 51-78, 54; and Stephen F. Page, "John Metham's Amoryus and Cleopes: Intertextuality and Innovation in a Chaucerian Poem," Chaucer Review 33 (1998): 201-208, 207. The most popular was the fourteenth-century French allegorical interpretation, the Ovide Moralise.
(32.) Although the bulk of the Christian material added to the Pyramus and Thisbe legend is confined to the final book of Amoryus and Cleopes, Metham integrates the new narrative into the rest of the romance through an undercurrent of asides and personal commentary on the paganism in Albynest. Page suggests that Metham is not guilty of an "endless amplification or condemnation of the pagans" (Page, "Intertextuality and Innovation," 203), but that he refers to their religious beliefs constantly in either a matter-of-fact tone or an understated sadness at their misguided faith. See also Fumo, "John Metham's 'Straunge Style,'" 217. Indeed, Metham's discussion of the paganism in Amoryus and Cleopes seeks to engender a feeling of pity in the audience, or at least to neutralize any feelings of condemnation the Christian readers might have toward the Albynestian pagans.
(33.) For an example of how the Commandments were used to teach the laity in the Middle Ages, see Thomas Frederick Simmons and Henry Edward Nolloth, eds., The Lay Folks' Catechism, EETS o.s. 118 (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1901).
(34.) Shortly after the lovers' conversion, the reader will also witness the wholesale conversion of paganism in Albynest during the hermit's exorcism of the temple.
(35.) Roger Dalrymple, "Amoryus and Cleopes: John Metham's Metamorphosis of Chaucer and Ovid," in The Matter of Identity in Medieval Romance, ed. Phillipa Hardman (Cambridge, UK: Brewer, 2002), 149-162, 155.
(36.) In addition to the glowing praise of the couple in Amoryus and Cleopes, the Garrett manuscript boasts two examples of the Stapleton-de la Pole coats of arms, one at the beginning of the romance (fol. 17r) and one on the first folio of the manuscript, which opens the treatise on palmistry. The arms are Stapleton impaling de la Pole: Stapleton, or, a lion rampant sable; de la Pole, azure, on a fess between three leopards' faces, or, a mullet sable (Craig, Works of John Metham, viii).
(37.) In other words, Miles Stapleton is the fifty-second in direct descent.
(38.) This statement not only confirms the Stapletons' past patronage of Metham but assumes their future sponsorship of his work. Page speculates that Metham was probably regularly compensated by the Stapletons either in the capacity of a "sometime-poet living in Norwich, or perhaps, more likely, [as] a member of the Stapleton retinue, perhaps the family secretary" (Page, Amoryus and Cleopes, 5). Given the long connection between Metham and the Stapletons and the likelihood of their consistent support of the author in whatever capacity he served them, we can begin to understand a patronage relationship not necessarily based on individual payments for texts either specifically commissioned or written speculatively in the hopes of remuneration. Rather, the broad definition of patronage with which this article begins--including intellectual and social as well as financial support--is a more accurate depiction of the relationship between Metham and the Stapletons.
(39.) William de la Pole became one of the most powerful men in England in the mid-fifteenth century. He engineered the marriage of Henry VI to Margaret of Anjou (1445). In 1430, he married Alice Chaucer (ca. 1404-1475), the granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer. Because Metham does not mention Suffolk's beheading in 1450, Amoryus and Cleopes must have been written before then. See George E. Cokayne, ed., The Complete Peerage, vol. 12: pt. 1 (London: St. Catherine Press, 1910-1959), 443-448.
(40.) At the end of Amoryus and Cleopes, Metham comments on Lydgate's "half chongyd Latyne" and "crafty imagynacionys of thingys fantastyk" (Craig, Works of John Metham, 2195-2196).
(41.) Metham's overt references to memorializing Katherine and to remembering her after death lead to some speculation about the state of Katherine's health during the romance's composition. Metham claims that "thys lady was, qwan I endytyd this story, / Floryschyng the sevyn and twenty yere of the sext Kyng Henry" (ibid., 2176-2177). While this statement establishes the date of the poem's composition, it also suggests that she was alive during the composition but not afterward. However, Katherine did not die until October 13-14, 1488, having remarried after Miles Stapleton's death in 1466.
(42.) This particular description recalls Metham's desire for Amoryus and Cleopes to comfort those who "falle in hevynes" (ibid., 2210) on holy days.
(43.) Page speculates that this text is a translation of De omnibus agriculturae partibus et plantarium, an encyclopedia of farming and animal husbandry written by Petrus de Crescentiis (1233-ca. 1320). See Will Richter and Reinhilt Richter-Bergmeier, eds., Ruralia commoda (Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag C. Winter, 1995). Page suggests that if the unknown Crysaunt text is indeed a translation of de Crescentiis's manual, then it is unlike the other texts Metham claims to have written. However, the practicality of a treatise on farming and livestock indeed dovetails with the other texts Metham wrote for the Stapletons. The scientific pieces, such as the treatise on physiognomy, and the sets of predictions (both for the year and for each day of the lunar cycle) provide practical, routine information to the reader. Furthermore, the kind of practical scientific discourse represented in a farming treatise is similar to those scientific discourses Cleopes marshals in her patronage of Amoryus; thus, praising Katherine's practicality and knowledge with Crysaunt easily recalls the praiseworthy practicality and knowledge of Cleopes.
(44.) "Qwene Eleyne" is Helen of Troy; Chaucer mentions her in several of his works, such as The Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fouls, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Legend of Good Women. Her great beauty is a commonplace in the Middle Ages. "Cresseyd" is Chaucer's heroine in Troilus and Criseyde; this is a dubious flattery considering how maligned Criseyde is in literature from the classical period through the Renaissance. She is, however, undoubtedly beautiful, and one hopes, for the sake of his future patronage, that this is the comparison Metham is drawing. "Polyxchene" is Polyxena, one of king Priam's daughters and the lover of Achilles. She is also mentioned in The Book of the Duchess and the Legend of Good Women. "Grysyld" is the heroine of The Clerk's Tale; she is a model of beauty and patience. "Penelope" is the wife of Odysseus and appears in several of Chaucer's works, such as Anelide and Arcite, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Legend of Good Women, as a model of fidelity.
(45.) For more on the notion that medieval romance audiences were at least partly comprised of noblewomen, see W. R. J. Barron, English Medieval Romance (New York: Longman, 1987), 231-235; Lee Ramsey, Chivalric Romances, 9 and 109-115; and Carol M. Meale, "'Gode Men / Wiues Maydnes and Alle Men': Romance and Its Audiences," in Readings in Medieval English Romance, ed. Carol M. Meale (Rochester, NY: D. S. Brewer, 1994), 209-226, 220.
(46.) Ramsey, Chivalric Romances, 177.
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|Author:||Vines, Amy N.|
|Publication:||The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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