‘The phantom king’: Tennyson’s Arthurian Idylls

  • Stephen Knight


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Arthurian legend diminished in status. It was too Catholic for many Protestants, especially with its grail connections, and its propaganda use by the Tudor monarchs had made it much too royalist for many parliamentarians (Hill, 1958, pp. 60–1). One major writer was neither aggressively protestant nor republican: Edmund Spenser contributed strongly to the Tudor royal myth in his long but unfinished epic poem The Faerie Queene. ‘Prince Arthur’ is the model of the ‘magnanimous man’: he embodies all the virtues that are allegorically demonstrated through particular knights in separate books. In the end Arthur will marry Gloriana; she is the ‘Faerie Queene’ herself and an apotheosis of Elizabeth I.


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Copyright information

© Stephen Knight 1983

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  • Stephen Knight

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