“Blob Child” Revisited: Conflations of Monstrosity, Disability, and Race in King of Tars
The fourteenth-century romance King of Tars dehumanizes Saracens as “blac and lothely.” Though its Sultan’s famous racial transformation is remarkable, the child of the Muslim Sultan and Christian Princess is the most distinctive figure of the tale, a child born with “noiþer nose no eye,” “wiþouten blod & bon.” King of Tars is often written about with little to no regard for its disabled child as anything more than signifier for the unnatural state of miscegeny. To medieval race scholars, the “rond of fleshe” is a comical and physically impossible result of racial mixing. The child is often dehumanized as a blob or lump. This chapter argues that medieval race scholars must approach the embodied difference of the King of Tars baby as more than simply personifying miscegeny, considering what it would mean to take seriously a body that has neither blood, nor bone, nor nose, nor eye. This chapter explores previously foreclosed readings of the King of Tars baby as human, highlighting the contradiction apparent when scholars critique monstrosity in racial representation, but confirm it in disability.