Arthurian Legend, Geoffrey of Monmouth, High Middle Ages, History of the Kings of Britain, John Balliol, King William I the Lion, Malory, Morte D’Arthur, Poetry, Roman de Fergus, Scotland, Thirteenth century, William of Malveisin
Mapping Scottish Identity in the Roman de Fergus
LATCH 5 (2012): 28-53.
The thirteenth-century Roman de Fergus by Guillaume le Clerc uses its Scottish setting, described with a precision unusual for Arthurian romance, both to construct the identity of its hero, Fergus of Galloway, and to transform that identity, rendering Fergus less a son of Galloway in particular and more a representative of Scottish knighthood generally. But the romance’s geographical verisimilitude is not constant, and when the territory grows uncertain so does the hero’s sense of himself. Given his strong associations with native Scottish territory, customs, and peoples, Fergus emblematically stands as the prototypical Scottish knight among Arthur’s company; thus it is all the more consequential when his identity is nearly undone in an adventure to places not fixable within the map of Scotland. When his identity is reestablished under Arthur’s patronage, Fergus’s recovery comes with the political price of firmer subjection to Arthur as his feudal overlord.