Elf Queens and Holy Friars


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In the course of writing this book I incurred many scholarly debts. My col-
leagues Drew Jones and Leslie Lockett were ever ready to answer my queries
about medieval Latin, and Sarah- Grace Heller was equally helpful with any
medieval French prob lems. My understanding of all things numinous bene-
ted greatly from my conversations with Sarah Iles Johnston and Fritz Graf,
and my tentative forays into folklore were encouraged by Dorrie Noyes and
Ray Cashman. Learning that I was working on fairies, many friends, col-
leagues, and students o"
ered me fascinating tidbits: Christopher Berard,
Nancy Bradbury, Mary Dzon, Alan Fletcher, Eric Johnson, Michael Johnston,
Lisa Kiser, Frank Klaassen, Alastair Minnis, Christine Rose, and James Wade
all come to mind, but others have inevitably escaped my memory and to
them I apologize. John Sle2
nger contributed diligently to formatting the
bibliography, and my early modern colleagues Richard Dutton and Hannibal
Hamlin kindly advised me on the Postscript. Two friends, one old and the
other new, deserve par tic u lar mention: John Block Friedman, whose knowl-
edge of medieval arcana, both natu ral and super natu ral, is unparalleled, was
unfailingly supportive of this proj ect, and Simon Young, whom I have met
only on line, generously o"
ered to read and comment on a draft of the whole
book; its 2
nal version pro2
ted enormously from his remarkable expertise. Fi-
nally, my wife Sharon Collingwood also read the whole book in draft and
ered the kind of sensible criticism Ive come to rely on. It goes without
saying that if this book has many 1
aws, I have no one to blame but myself.
\ 
William of Newburgh,
History of En glish
A airs
, , …, , , , , , ,
, n
William the Conqueror, King of Eng land,
Wisbech, 
witchcraft and sorcery )also nigromancy,
sortilegium, etc.*, , , , …, ,
…, …, …, , , …,
witches, persecution of, , , , , …,
, , , …, …, , …
Woodstock, 
Woodcock, Matthew, 
Woolf, Rosemary, , 
Woolmer, forest of, 
Woolpit, 
Worms, 
Wyatt, Sir 
omas, …
Yates, Francis, 
Yeats,W.B., 
Yorkshire, , 
Young, Simon, , n, n
Shakespeare, William:
King Lear
, ;
Macbeth
, ;
e Merry Wives of Windsor
, ;
A Midsummer Nights Dream
, ;
Romeo and Juliet
, ;
Tempest
, 
sibyls, , , , …, n
Sicily, , , , , , , n
Sidrak and Bokkus
, 
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, 
Simpson, James, …, 
Sisson,C.J., 
snakes, as a paternity test, …
Somerset, 
South En glish Legendary
, , , , , ,
, …, …
Spain, , n, n
Speght, 
omas, …
Spenser, Edmund,
 e Faerie Queene
, ,
, …, 
Stapleton, William, 
Station Island, Lough Derg, …
Stephen, King of Eng land, 
Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canter-
bury, …
Su"
olk, , , …, , …, 
superstition, , , , …, , , …
Sussex, 
Swan, John,
Speculum Mundi
, 
Swann, Marjorie, 
\ 
of Cornwall, ;
Tractatus de Purgatorio
Sancti Patricii
, , , …, ,
…, ;
Visio Ludovici
, , ,
;
Visio Pauli
, ;
Vision of Edmund
Leversedge
, …;
Vision of Fursey
, ;
Vision of Tundale
, , ;
Vision of
William Stranton
, , , n;
Visiones Georgii
, …, , , n,
n.
See also
Lough Derg; Mount
Loomis, Roger Sherman, , , n,
n
Lough Derg, …
Lourdes, n
Lovelich, Henry, 
Lusignan family, , , …, 
Lydgate, John:
Fall of Princes
;
Troy Book
Lynceus, 
Lyon, , 
Mabinogion
MacCulloch,J.A., , n
Mack, John Edward, 
Malleus Male carum
, , , n
Malory, Sir 
omas, , , 
Man, Andro, 
Mandev ille, Sir John, , , , n
Mannyng, Robert:
Handlyng Synne
, , ,
n;
Story of Eng land
Map, Walter,
De Nugis Curialium
, , , ,
, …, , , , , …, , ,
, , , , n
Marie Antoinette, 
Marie de Bourbon, 
Marie de France:
Guigamer
, ;
Lespurgatoire
, , ;
Lanval
, , …,
…;
Yonec
, , …, , , …, 
Marshall, Linda, , 
Martianus Capella, 
Merchtem, 
Meres, Francis, 
Meridiana, 
Merlin, , …, , …, , , ,
…, …, , …, , n,
nn…, n
Mirk, John,
, 
Mitchell, Bruce, 
Mont de Chat, 
Montfort, lords of, , 
Mount Etna, …
Moore,R.I., 
Morel, Jean, 
Murray, Margaret, , 
Musnier, Simonin, 
Mussolini, 
mystery plays, , , , , ;
Chester
plays
, …, , …, …;
N- Town
plays
, , ;
Towneley plays
, …, ,
, , ;
York plays
, …, , …
Mytilene, 
Nennius, 
Neveling de Hardenburg, 
Nider, Johannes, , …n
Norfolk, , 
Northampton, 
Northern Homily Cycle
, , 
Norwich, , …, 
Nottingham, 
Ogier the Dane, , , , n
Onewyn, …
OQuinn, 
omas, 
Ordela$
, Francesco, …
Orderic Vitalis,
Ecclesiastical History
, …
Oresme, Nicholas, 
Origen, 
Oring, Elliott, 
Osbern de Bradwell, 
Osbert Fitz Hugh, 
Ostrogotha, 
Ourches- sur- Meuse, 
Oxford, , 
Pannonia, 
Paris, Matthew, , …
Paris, University of, , , , , , ,

Paston Letters
, 
Patch, Howard, , 
Paxton, James, 
Pennyfather, Mary, 
Percival, Richard,
Dictionarie in Spanish and
English
, 
Percy, Sir 
omas, 
Pereson, Jenkyn, 
ter I of Cyprus, 
Peter Damian,
Ad perennis vitae fontem
…
Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, 
Peter of Blois, , …, , 
Petitcriu, , 
Phillips, Judith, 
Pierre de Bourl
ment, 
Pinkie Cleugh, Battle of, 
Plantagenet, house of, , , 
Pliny, 
Poitou, …, 
Poos, Lawrence, 
purgatory, …, , …, …, ;
Marie de France,
Lespurgatoire
, …;
Owayne Miles
, …, …, ; Peter
\ 
heresy: Cathar, , , , , n; fairy
belief as, …, …, , , , , ,
, , , n, n; Lollard, ,
…, , 
Heriger, Bishop of Mainz
, , 
Herlequin )Hellequin, King Herla, etc.*, ,
, …, , …, …, ,
nn, 
Hermann of Tournai, 
Hertford, 
Hertford shire, 
Higden, Ranulph:
Polychronicon
, , , ,
;
Speculum Curatorum
, n, n,
n
Higgins, John, 
Historiae romanae fragmenta
, 
Hobbes, 
omas, 
Holland, 
omas, 
Honorius of Autun, 
Hugh of Lincoln, 
Hull, 
omas, 
Hungary, , 
Huns, 
Huon de M
ri,
Le Tournoiement de
lAnticrist
, , …, n
Iceland, , , …
Idley, Peter, , , 
India, , , 
Infancy Gospels, 
fairy queen, ; Argante, ; Dame Abonde,
, , , ; Diana, , , ,
n; Mab, …; Morgan le Fay,
, , , , , , , , ;
Proserpina, , , …; Sybil, , ,
, ; Titania, , 
Fasciculus Morum
, , , …, n
Fenwick, Catharine, 
Ferlampin- Acher, Christine, , n
Filotas, Bernadette, …, n
Flanders, 
Fletcher, Alan, , n
Florio, John,
Worlde of Wordes
, 
folklore, …, , …, …, …,
, , , , , , nn, ,
n
Forli, 
Forman, Simon, 
Foucault, Michel, 
Fournier, Jaques, Pope Benedict XII, 
Fourth Lateran Council, , 
France, , , , , …, , , ,
…, , , , , 
Franciscans, , , …
Froissart, Jean, 
Gardner, John, 
Gareth, 
Gaule, John,
Select cases of Conscience
, 
Gawain, , , , , 
Geo"
rey of Monmouth, , ;
Historia
Regum
, …, , , , , …,
n;
Vita Merlini
, , , n,
n
Gerald of Wales, , , , , ,
n;
De Principis Instructione
, …;
Expugnatio Hibernica
Itinerium
Cambriae
, , , 
, ;
Speculum
Ecclesiae
, , …, n, n
Germany, , , , , , , , , ,
, …, , 
Gerndt, Helge, 
Gerson, Jean, , …
Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia
, , ,
, , , …, , …, , , ,
…
Gesta Regum Britannie
, , …
ghosts, , …, , , …
Gi"
ord, George,
A Dialogue concerning
Witches
, 
Gillingham, John, 
Gingras, Francis, , n, n
Ginzburg, Carlo, , , , n, n,
n, n
Glastonbury, …
delmann, Johann Georg, 
Godfrey of Bouillon, 
Godstow Abbey, 
Golden Legend
, , n, n
Goodey,C.F. andT. Stainton, 
Goodman, Christopher, …
Gowdie, Isobel, 
Gower, John:
Cinkante Balades
, ;
Confessio
Amantis
, , n
Graf, Arturo, 
Gramsci, Antonio, , …, …, …,

Gratian, 
Gravier, Sir Peter, , n
Greenblatt, Stephen, 
Grimm, Jacob, 
Gui, Bernard, , , n
Guibert of Nogent, …
Guichard, Bishop of Troyes, 
Guido della Colonna, 
Guillaume de Lorris, 
Guillaume Larchev
que, Lord of Parthenay,
, n
Gunter, Anne, 
Gurevich, Aron, , n, n,
n
Gwestin Gwestiniog, , 
Ha"
en, Josiane, 
Hafstein, Valdimar, 
Hampshire, 
hansels, 
Harding, John,
Metrical Chronicle
Hardware, Henry, the younger, 
Harf- Lancner, Laurence, , , n,
, n
Harsnett, Samuel, , …
Helias.
Enoch
Helinand of Froidmont, …
Heng, Geraldine, 
Henry I, King of Eng land, 
Henry II, King of Eng land, , 
Henry VI, King of Eng land, 
Henry VIII, King of Eng land, 
Henry of Marsburg, n
Henryson, Robert,
Orpheus and Eurydice

\ 
Doomsday, , …, , , , , 
Douglas, Gavin, 
dOurches, Sir Albert, 
dOutremeuse, Jean, , , , 
Drayton, Michael:
Dowsabell
, ;
Nymphidia
, 
Draco Normannicus
, , 
Dubost, Francis, , , n, n,
n, n, n
du Guesclin, Bertrand, …, , ,
n, n
Dunbar, William, 
Dunlop, Bessie, , 
Durham, , , 
Eadric the Wild, , , , …, 
Easting, Robert, , , nn, 
Edinburgh, , , 
Edward II, King of Eng land, …
Einarsson, Oddur, …
Ekkard von Aura, …
Elias.
Enoch
Eliodor, , 
Elizabeth I, Queen of Eng land, , ,
, 
Elucidarium
, , , ; En glish version,
, , ; French version, , , ,
…n
Elucidation
, , , 
Elyot, 
omas, 
Emmerson, Richard, 
Brown, Arthur, 
Brut
, …, 
Buin, Michel, 
Bullein, William,
Bulleins Bulwarke
, 
Burchard of Worms,
e Corrector
, , ,
, n
Burke, Peter, …
Burrow, John, 
Byrne, Aisling, 
Byzantium )Constantinople*, , 
Cade, Jack, 
Caesarius of Heisterbach,
Dialogus
Miraculorum
, , …, , , …,
, n
Cambrai, 
Cambridge, , 
Cambridgeshire, 
Camlann, Battle of, , 
Campion, 
omas, 
canon,
Episcopi
, 
Canterbury, , , 
Capgrave, John:
Chronicle
Life of Saint
Katherine
, , …
Carmarthen, , 
Car ter, Angela, 
Cartlidge, Neil, …
Cassian, Saint John, 
Castleford, 
omas,
Chronicle
Charles V, King of France, , 
Charles VI, King of France,
bal des sauvages
, n
Chaucer, Geo"
rey, , , , …, ;
apocrypha,
e Plowmans Tale
, ; apoc-
rypha,
e Romaunt of the Rose
, ;
Canons Yeomans Tale
, ;
e Canter-
bury Tales
, …;
e Franklins Tale
;
 e Friars Tale
, ;
 e House of
Fame
, ;
 e Knights Tale
, , , ,
…, ;
e Man of Laws Tale
, ,
…;
 e Merchants Tale
, , , ,
, …;
e Millers Tale
, ;
Monks Tale
, ;
e Nuns Priests Tale
;
e Pardoners Tale
, ;
e Reeves
Tale
, ;
econd Nuns Tale
, ;
uires Tal
e, , ;
e Tale of Sir
opas
, , , …, …, …, ;
e Wife of Baths Tale
, …, , , ,
, , 
Chevalier qui  st parler les cons
, , 
Cheyne, 
omas, 
Chr
tien de Troyes, ;
Chevalier de la
charette
, , …, , ;
Yvain
, …,
, 
Cistercians, …, 
Clancy, Susan, 
Clark, Stuart, …, n
Cleary, Michael, 
Clerk, Marion, , , , , 
Clonfert, 
Cohen, Je"
rey Jerome, 
Colin, Jean, 
Collingwood,R.G., …
Comper, , 
Conrad of H
xter, , n
Conrad of Marburg, …, n, n
Constable, Giles, 
Cooper, Bishop 
omas,
esaurus linguae
Romanae & Britannicae
, 
Cooper, Helen, , , , …
Cooper, 
omas,
e mystery of witch- craft

Corbet, Richard, bishop of Norwich, 
Cornwall, , , n
Coudrette,
Melusine
, , , n
Court of Love
Coutumier of Broc
liande
Crane,T.F., 
Crehan, Kate, 
Cresswell, John, …, …
cunning men and women, , , , , ,
, , …, 
Cyprus, , 
dAlbornoz, Gil, 
Dante Alighieri:
Inferno
, , ,
Purgatorio
…
dAulnoy, Countess, 
David I, King of Scotland, 
de Beaujeu, Renaut, 
gh, Linda, …
de la Sale, Antoine, , …, , 
Derbyshire, 
Devon, 
Disputation between a Christian and a Jew
, , 
Dives and Paupe
r, , 
Dolopathos
, . See also
Seven Sages of Rome
Dominicans, …, …, , , , , ,
, , , n
Domr
my, , , , , n
Donaldson,E. Talbot, 
Adam de la Halle,
Jeu de la feuill
, , 
Adam of Eynsham, 
Africa, , 
Agn
s de Bourgogne, Duchess de Bourbon,
Alan of Lille, 
Albertus Magnus, , , , , …,
…n
alien abduction, , , n
Allen, Dorena, , , 
Alnoth, 
Alphabet of Tales
, 
Alphonse de Spina, 
Ancrene Wisse
, 
Anonimalle Chronicle
, …
Apennines, , 
Apuleius,
De deo Socratis,
, …, 
Aquinas, Saint 
omas
, , n
Arabia, 
Ardennes, , , 
Aristotle, 
Arles, 
Arras
, 
Arthurian Vulgate Cycle
, 
Ashley, Sir Anthony, 
Aubrey, John, , 
Auchinleck Manuscript )National Library of
Scotland, Adv. MS ..*, , , , 
Augustine, boy healed by Saint 
omas,
…
Augustine, Saint, , n;
e City
of God
, , , …, , , , ,
, n, n;
e Divination of
Demons
, ;
On Christian Doctrine
n
Bailey, Michael, , n, n
Barber, Richard, 
Barenton, spring of, …
Baret, John,
Aluearie or triple dictionarie
, 
Barillari, Sonia, , n, n, n
Barlow, William,
ree Christian Sermons

Bartholomaeus Anglicus, , …
Bartholomew of Exeter, n
Bedford, 
Bekker, Balthasar,
 e World Bewitched
, 
Bennett, Gillian, 
Benoit de Saint- Maure, 
Bernardus Silvestris, 
Bern stein, AlanE., 
Biggleswade, 
Bliss,A.J., 
Bodmin, 
Boece, Hector,
Scotorum Historia
, 
Boguet, Henri,
Discours des Sorciers
, , 
Bonaventure, Saint, 
Book of the Dun Cow
Bourl
ment family, , n
Boyman, Jonet, 
Breton lais, , ;
, , , , ;
Graelent
, , ;
Guingamor
, , , ,
, , , , ;
Lanval/Sir Launfal
, , …, …, ;
Sir Orfeo
, , ,
, , , …, …, …, ,
, , , n;
Tydorel
, , ,
…, , , ;
Tyolet
, , .
See also
Marie de France
Brewer, DerekS., 
Brideling, sadling and ryding, of a rich churle

Briggs, Katharine, , n, n,
n
Brittany, , , , …, , …, ,
…, , , n
Broc
liande, forest of, , …, , ,
n
Bromyard, John, , , , …, n
� \n
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e Medieval Latin Past of Wonderful
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„ „ „.
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 )*:.
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Pervigilium Veneris
though Campion certainly adapts its refrain )cras amet qui nunquam amavit quique amavit
cras ametŽ*, there are impor tant di" erences: Proserpina is never mentioned; and not only does
the
Pervigilium Veneris
)as its title implies* invoke Venus, but it is addressed to men, not women.
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don Press, *, p. )lines …, …*.
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Scottish Studies
 )*: )lines …*. For the man-
uscript )Scottish Rec ord O$
ce, MS RH/*, see Marion Stewart, A Recently Discovered
Manuscript: Ane tale of Sir Colling ye kny
, Ž
Scottish Studies
 )*:…
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vidF.C. Coldwell,  vols., Scottish Text Society, rd ser.:, , ,  )Edinburgh: Black-
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don Press, *, pp. and )Flyting,Ž lines  and*, and p. )Norny,Ž lines …*.
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e Re nais sance and its Anthropologies
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fele and
Stephan Laqu
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\t\b \t �\b …
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[nd ed.]:*.
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University of Chicago Press, *.
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Studies in the Age of Chaucer
 )*:….
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[nd ed.]:*.
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Sir 
opas
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neth Muir )London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, *, p..
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opas,Ž p..
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e Romance of the Accession Day Tilts,Ž
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is adioyned an apologeticall discourse, whereby all such sclanderous accusations are fully and faith-
fully confuted, wherewith the honour of this realme hath beene vncharitably traduced by some of
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omas Barnes, *, f. O[]
[nd ed.]:*.
. James Sharpe,
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….
. Samuel Harsnett,
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her Maiesties subiects from their allegeance, and from the truth of Christian religion professed in
Eng land, vnder the pretence of casting out deuils . . .
)London: James Roberts, *, pp.…
[nd ed.]:*.
. Scot,
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. E. Talbot Donaldson,
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bury, *, pp.…; Peter Brown, Chaucer and Shakespeare: 
Merchants Tale
Con-
nection,Ž
Chaucer Review
 )*:….
 \t\b \t �\b …

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[nd
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Richard Percival, A dictionarie in Spanish and En glish,  rst published into the En-
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[nd ed.]:*.
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for this time of our dearth
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[nd ed.]:*.
.
Register of John Morton, III,
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Early Modern Witches,
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sinne
s )London: Francis Constable, *, p. )
[nd ed.]:*.
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Wing
[nd ed.]:G*.
. William Bullein,
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woundes that doe dayly assaulte mankinde: by William Bullein, Doctor of Phisicke. \b\r\t
. )Lon-
don: 
omas Marshe, *, f. 
[nd ed.]:*. At least one case of fairiesŽ appears
in the casebooks of the early seventeenth- century physician Richard Napier; see RonaldC.
Sawyer,  Strangely Handled in All Her Lyms: Witchcraft and Healing in Jacobean Eng land,Ž
Journal of Social History
 )*:.
. George Gi"
ord,
A dialogue concerning witches and witchcraftes
)London: Tobie Cooke
and Mihil Hart, *, f. B
[nd ed.]:*.
. See Richard Kieckhefers foreword to the second edition of Elliot Rose,
A Razor for a
Goat
)Toronto: University of Toronto Press, *, pp. vii… xiv.
. Another in1
uence comes from anthropology; cf. Rodney Needhams claim that it is
an almost universal premise subscribed to by anthropologists, that witches do not really ex-
istŽ;
Primordial Characters
)Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, *, p..
. For Scotland, seeJ.A. MacCulloch, 
e Mingling of Fairy and Witch Beliefs in
Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Scotland,Ž
Folklore
 )*:…; and Diane Pur-
kiss, Sounds of Silence: Fairies and Incest in Scottish Witchcraft Stories,Ž in
Languages of
Witchcraft: Ideology and Meaning in Early Modern Culture
, ed. Stuart Clark )London: Palgrave,
*, pp.…. For Hungary, see
va P
cs,
Between the Living and the Dead
, trans. Szilvia
dey and Michael Webb )Budapest: Central Eu ro pean University Press, *, pp.….
For Sicily, see Gustav Henningsen,   e Ladies from Outside: An Archaic Pattern in the
Witches Sabbath,Ž in
Early Modern Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries
, ed. Bengt Ankarloo
and Gustav Henningsen )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, pp.…. For Spain, seeF.A.
Campagne, Witch or Demon? Fairies, Vampires, and Nightmares in Early Modern Spain,Ž
 
\t\b \t �\b …
London: Penguin, *, pp.….  e medieval association of visions of Mary with haw-
thorns )see WilliamA. Christian,
Apparitions in Late Medieval and Re nais sance Spain
[Prince-
ton,N.J.: Prince ton University Press, ], pp.…* may point in the same direction.
. See Gurevich,
Medieval Pop u lar Culture
, pp.…; [Caesarius of Heisterbach],
Dia-
logus Miraculorum,
ed. Strange, :… )dist. , cap. *, gives a particularly good example.
. Le Go"
Naissance du purgatoire
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. Tubach,
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. Horstmann. Die Evangelien- Geschichten,Ž pp.… )no. *;
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ily Cycle
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. De quodam valde religioso abbate legimus: Cum nouissima cogitaret et quid ei post
hanc vitam futurum esset, inter alia cogitare cepit de gaudiis paradisi, et quomodo sancti
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eius. Et reuersus ad se venit ad portam abbacie et omnia mutata reperit, nec ianitorem ag-
nouit, nec ipse ab aliquo, quis esset, in monasterio cognosci potuit. Cumque diceret: Ego sum
abbas talis monasterii qui statim ad meditandum in ortum exiui, illi negantes et admirantes
 \t\b \t �\b …

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South En glish Legendary,
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Visiones Georgii
)ed. Ham-
merich* make the point that the punishments di"
er only in degree and duration, not in kind
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que
Phillipps
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.
South En glish Legendary,
ed. DEvelyn and Mill, :; cf. lines , ….
. Marie de France,
EspurgatoireS. Patrice
, ed. Karl Warnke )Halle: Niemeyer, *,
pp., , , ; cf. lines … )p.*.
. 
omas of Cantimpr
Bonum universale
, pp.…;
Middle En glish Debate Poetry,
ed. Conlee, pp.….
. Easting, Purgatory and the Earthly ParadiseŽ )*, pp.….
. Easting, Purgatory and the Earthly ParadiseŽ )*, pp.….
. Ernst Robert Curtius,
Eu ro pean Lit er a ture and the Latin Middle Ages
, trans. Willard
Trask ); New York: Harper, *, pp.….
. Trevisa,
On the Properties of 
ings,
ed. Seymour, :. 
e idea goes back to [Isidore
of Seville],
Isidori Hispalensis episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum
, ed.W.M. Lindsay,  vols.
)Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, vol. , bk. , ch., para. .
. Howard Rollin Patch,
e Other World According to Descriptions in Medieval Lit er a-
)Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, *.
. See Georges Doutrepont,
Les mises en prose des
épopées et des romans chevaleresques du
XIV
au XVI
siècle
)Brussels: Palais des acad
mies, *; Harf- Lancner,
Fées au moyen
âge
pp.…. 
Prose Ogier
is cited here from
Ogier le Dannoys
[a facsimile edition of Verards
 print], ed. Knud Togeby )Munksgaard, *.
. Harf- Lancner,
Fées au moyen
âge
, p.n.
.
South En glish Legendary,
ed. DEvelyn and Mill, : )lines …*.
.
omas of Erceldoune,
ed. Nixon, : )
ornton MS*.
. See
St Patricks Purgatory
, ed. Easting, p.n.
. Marie de France,
Espurgatoire,
ed. Warnke, pp.….
. C.M. Van der Zanden,
Étude sur le Purgatoire de saint Patrice
)Amsterdam: Paris,
*, p. )line *.
. Sonia Maura Barillari, Il Purgatorio di Ludovico di Sur: Un testo a cavallo fra Me-
dioevo e Rinascimento,Ž
Studi medievali
, rd ser.,  )*:. For
talentum
, cf. Middle
French,
taillant
, lame trenchante.
.
St Patricks Purgatory,
ed. Easting, p. )line *.
. Two earlier half analogues, one Germanic )in
De Gestis Langobardorum
*, the other
Celtic )in
Kulhwch and Olwen
*, are both folkloric; see Laura Hibbard, 
e Sword Bridge of
Chretien de Troyes and Its Celtic Original,Ž
Romanic Review
 )*:….
.
Roman van Walewein (Dutch Romances, \b)
, ed. and trans. DavidF. Johnson and
GeertH.M. Classens )Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, *, pp.… )lines …*.
.
e Vision of Edmund Leversedge
, ed.W.F. Nijenhuis )Nijmegan: Katholieke Univer-
siteit, *.
.
Register of John Morton, III,
ed. Harper- Bill, p. )no. *.
. As late as nineteenth- century France, this possibility was raised in the case of Saint
Teresa of Lourdes; see Ruth Harris,
Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Ages
)New York and
 
\t\b \t �\b …
Easting, Purgatory and the Earthly Paradise in the
Purgatorio Sancti Patricii

Citeaux: Com-
mentarii Cistercienses
 )*:…; Gurevich,
Medieval Pop u lar Culture
, pp.…;B.P. Mc-
Guire, Purgatory, the Communion of Saints, and Medieval Change,Ž
Viator
 )*:….
. Jacques Le Go"
La naissance du purgatoire
)Paris: Gallimard, *, pp.…;
Jacques Le Go"
e Birth of Purgator
y, trans. Arthur Goldhammer )Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, *, pp.…. See also Le Go"
Limaginaire médiévale
, pp.….
. AlanE. Bern stein, Review of
La naissance du purgatoire
by Jacques Le Go"

lum
 )*:.
. Art
nellEtna,Ž in Arturo Graf,
Miti, leggende e superstizioni del medio evo
)/;
Milan: Mondadori, *, pp.….
. For the story itself, see Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns,
pp.…; for the dates, ed. cit., pp.xxviii, xl.
. [Caesarius of Heisterbach],
Dialogus Miraculorum,
ed. Strange, :… ):*. Vul-
canoŽ appears to be a reference to the island in the Sicilian archipelago.
. [
tienne de Bourbon],
Anecdotes historique
s, ed. Lecoy de la Marche, pp.….
. Le Go"
Naissance du purgatoire
, pp.…; trans. Goldhammer, pp.….
.
omas of Erceldoune,
ed. Nixon, : )
ornton MS, lines …*.
. William of Newburgh,
History of En glish A airs,
ed. Walsh and Kennedy, pp.…
)bk. , chap *.
.
Lais féeriques,
ed. Micha, pp.… )lines …*.
. Sir John Mandev ille,
Mandev illes Travels,
ed. Seymour )*, pp.… )chap.*.
. References to the Latin
Tractatus
are taken from Karl Warnkes edition of Marie de
Frances
EspurgatoireS. Patrice
)Halle: Niemeyer, *. Unless noted, the
text is cited.
. Robert Easting, 
e South En glish Legendary St Patrick as Translation,Ž
Leeds
Studies in En glish
 )*:.
. Le Go"
La Naissance du purgatoir
e, p.; trans. Goldhammer, p..
.
Visiones Georgii,
ed.L.L. Hammerich, in
Det Kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selkab.
Historisk-  lologiske Meddelelser
, vol. , pt.  )Copenhagen: Bianco Lunos, *. Twenty MSS
of the
Visiones Georgii
survive, and another four are known to have existed; see Bernd Weite-
meier,
Visiones Georgii: Untersuchung mit synoptischer Edition der
Übersetzung und Redaktion C
)Berlin: Erich Schmidt, *, pp.…, ….
. 
ere is a faint echo of this motif in the
ision of William of Stranton:
thow shalt
fynd men . . . lich in shap and colour to men of thi owne contree
at ben levyng, but
ei ben
evel spiritesŽ; see
St Patricks Purgatory
, ed. Robert Easting, EETS  )Oxford: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, *, p..
.
Visio Ludovico de Francia,
ed. Max Voigt, in
Beiträge zur Geschichte der Visionenlit-
eratur im MittelalterI.II
. )Leipzig: Mayer M
ller, *, pp.….
. Sonia Maura Barillari, Le citt
delle dame: La sovranit
ctonia declinata al femminile
fra lirlanda e i Monti Sibillini,Ž
LImmagine Ri essa
, n.s.  )*:.
. Robert Easting, Peter of Cornwalls Account of St.Patricks Purgatory,Ž
Analecta
Bollandiana
 )*:…; the story is on pp.….
. Easting takes this to mean that his penis has been turned to wood, but
virga
can also
denote the male member itsef )cf. MED, y
rdŽ )n. [], [a]*.
.
Visio Ludovico de Francia,
ed. Voigt, in
Beiträge
, pp.….
.
St Patricks Purgatory,
ed. Easting, p. )st. *.
. 
Visiones Georgii
make the torments of purgatory di"
er ent in degree and dura-
tion, but not in kind, from those of hell )ed. Hammerich, pp.…*.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Claude Lecouteux,
Chasses fantastiques et cohortes de la nuit au moyen
âge
)Paris: Imago,
*.
. Other recent authorities who have associated Hellequin with the dead include Ginz-
burg,
Ecstasies
, p.; and Jean- Claude Schmitt,
Ghosts in the Middle Ages: 
e Living and the
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. 
is story, frequently repeated in the early modern period )e.g.,
Malleus Male carum,
ed. Mackay, B A- B; : and, and: and…*, seems to have been best
known from the
Legenda Aurea
)July*.
tienne de Bourbons )earlier and much fuller* ver-
sion is omitted from Lecoy de la Marches
Anecdotes historiques,
and I have quoted it here from
Paris:B.N. MS Latin , f. a.
. Bruce Mitchell, 
e Faery World of Sir Orfeo,Ž
Neophilologus
 )*:.
.  Women are yet alive who tell they were taken away when in Child- bed to nurse Fai-
rie Children, a lingering voracious Image of their [
] being left in their place, )like their
exion in a Mirrour,* which )as if it were some insatiable Spirit in ane assumed Bodie* made
2 rst semblance to devour the Meats that it cunningly carried by, and then left the Carcase as
if it expired and departed thence by a naturall and common DeathŽ; see Robert Kirk,
e Se-
 \t\b \t �\b …

is item appears in a
 
\t\b \t �\b …
.
Chronicle of Lanercost
, ed. Stephenson, p..
.
Chronicles
, ed. Howlett, : )line *; I am grateful to Christopher Berard for
this reference.
. Peter Dronke,
e Medieval Poet and His World
)Rome: Storia e Letteratura, *,
pp.….
. [Gerald of Wales],
Giraldi Cambrensis Opera,
ed. Brewer, :… )
Itinerarium Kam-
briae
, :*.
. Chambers,
Arthur of Britain
, p..
. Chambers,
Arthur of Britain
, p.. 
e sentence is ambiguous since the subject of
decepti
could be either
Judaei
Britones
; rhetorically, however, one might expect Gerald to be
suggesting that the Britons are worse than the Jews.
. JamesP. Carley,
Glastonbury Abbey: 
e Holy House at the Head of the Moors Adven-
s, nd ed. )Glastonbury: Gothic Image, *, pp.….
. Richard Barber,
King Arthur in Legend and History
)London: Cardinal, *, p..
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, p..
. For the spread of news of this discovery, see
Haut Livre du Graal,
ed. Nitze and Jen-
kins, :….
. Giles Constable, Forgery and Plagiarism in the Middle Ages,Ž
Archiv für Diplomatik
 )*:….
. Timothy Lewis andJ. Douglas Bruce, 
e Pretended Exhumation of Arthur and
Guinevere,Ž
Revue Celtique
 )*:.
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, p..
. [Jean dOutremeuse],
Myreur des histors,
ed. Bormans and Borgnet, :.
. For further references to Ogier and Avalon, see Paton,
Studies in Fairy My thol ogy
pp.…; Paton was unaware of the Jean dOutremeuse passage.
. Roger Sherman Loomis, 
e Legend of Arthurs Survival,Ž in
Arthurian Lit er a ture
in the Middle Ages
, ed. Roger Sherman Loomis )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, pp.….
.
Middle En glish Debate Poetry,
ed. Conlee, p. )line *.
. John Lydgate,
Fall of Princes
, ed. Henry Bergen,  vols., EETS ES … )London:
Oxford University Press, …*, : )bk. , lines …*.
Étienne de Bourbon],
Anecdotes historiques,
ed. Lecoy de la Marche, p..
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.….
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II, iii,  ) ed., :aC*;
disgladiatos
is clearly
a calque on French
desglaivés,
or put to the sword.
.
Criminal Trials in Scotland, I, ii
, ed. Robert Pitcairn )Edinburgh: Tait, *, p..
.
Fasciculus Morum,
ed. Wenzel, pp.…. e antecedent of the phrase
que in nostro
lgari dicitur elves
is unclear;
dicitur
is presumably a slip for
, and I have accordingly
adapted the word order of Wenzels translation to clarify that who in our native tongue are
called
Ž refers back to the reginas and puellas [queens and girls].
.
Fasciculus Morum,
ed. Wenzel, p..
. SeeR.W. Chambers,
Widsith, a Study in Old En glish Heroic Legend
)Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, *, pp.….
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, p..
. KarlP. Wentersdorf, Chaucer and the Lost Tale of Wade,Ž
Journal of En glish and Ger-
manic Philology
 )*:….
. See Owst, Sortilegium,Ž p.n.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
Life of Merlin / Vita Merlini,
ed. and trans. Clarke, pp.…
)lines …*.
.
Roman de Brut,
ed. Arnold, :….
. E.K. Chambers,
Arthur of Britain
)London: Sidgwick Jackson, *, p..
. Chambers,
Arthur of Britain
, p.. See alsoJ.S.P. Tatlock,  e En glish Journey of
the Laon Canons,Ž
 )*:….
. Chambers,
Arthur of Britai
n, p..
. E.g., Paul Dalton, 
e Topical Concerns of Geo"
rey of Monmouths
Historia Regum
Britannie
: History, Prophecy, Peacemaking, and En glish Identity in the Twelfth Century,Ž
Jour-
nal of British Studies
 )*:….
.
Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I
, ed. Richard Howlett,  vols.
)London: Longman, …*, :….
. A twelfth- century commentary on the
Prophesies of Merlin
explains
exitus eius dubius
erit
as quia dubitatur an sit vivus an mortuus. Omnium scilicet haec est superstitio, Brito-
num, Guallorum et CornubienciumŽ [ because it is doubted whether he is living or dead; this
is the par tic u lar superstition of all the Bretons, Welsh, and Cornish]; see Jacob Hammer, A
Commentary on the
Prophetia Merlini
)Geo"
rey of Monmouths
Historia Regum Britanniae
Book VII*,Ž
 )*:….
.
Patrologia Latina
, :C )
Passio Reginaldi Principis
*, andA, C )
Epistolae
. Chambers,
Arthur of Britain
, p..
. Joseph of Exeter,
e Trojan War, I… III
, ed. and transA.K. Bate )Warminster: Aris
and Phillips, *, pp.….
. EdmundG. Gardner,
Arthurian Legend in Italian Lit er a ture
)London:J.M. Dent,
*, pp.….
.
Patrologia Latina
, :B )
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Robert of Gloucester,
Metrical Chronicle,
ed. Wright, : )lines …*.
. 
linstar de la f
vale, la Sibylle vit, par example, dans un monde en marge
de lunivers des vivants . . . elle a le don de proph
tie, et elle b
cie,
faut de limmortalit
dune long
vit
extraordinaireŽ; see Josiane Ha"
en,
Contribution
létude de la Sibylle médiévale
)Paris: Belles lettres, *, p..
. WilliamL. Kinter and JosephR. Keller,
e Sibyl: Prophetess of Antiquity and Medi-
eval Fay
)Philadelphia: Dorrance, *, pp.….
.
Évangiles des quenouilles,
ed. Jeay, p. )line *, and passim.
.
REED: Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills, :.
. 
ough in the earliest En glish version,
Romance of the Cheuelere Assigne,
ed. Gibbs,
he is called Enyas.
.
Le Roman en prose de Tristan
, ed.E. L
seth )Paris: Bouillon, *, pp.…;
Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances
, ed.H. Oskar Sommer,  vols. )Washington,D.C.:
Car ne gie, …*, :; Malory,
Works,
ed. Vinaver, :.
.
Das Mittellateinische Gespräch Adrian und Epictitus: Nebst verwandten Texten (Joca
Monachorum)
, ed. Walther Suchier )T
bingen: Niemeyer, *, p..
.
REED: Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills, :.
. Cf.
e Wedding of Sir Gawain Dame Ragnelle,
ed. 
omas Hahn, in
Sir Gawain:
Eleven Romances and Tales
, ed. 
omas Hahn )Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications,
*, pp.…, or du Guesclins fairy bride, Ti"
any de Raguenel.
. RichardK. Emmerson,  Nowe ys common this daye: Enoch and Elias, Antichrist,
and the Structure of the Chester Cycle,Ž in
Homo, Memento Finis: 
e Iconography of Just
Judgment in Medieval Art and Drama
, ed. David Bevington )Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute
Publications, *, pp.….
. For example, JohnC. Coldewey, Watching the Watchers: Drama Spectatorship and
Counter- Surveillance in Sixteenth- Century Chester,Ž
Studia Anglica Posnaniensia
 )*:…
. 
e 2
rst to make this case in detail was HaroldC. Gardiner,
Mysteries End: An Investigation
e Last Days of the Medieval Religious Stage
)New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, *.
. JamesJ. Paxson, 
eorizing the Mysteries End in Eng land, the Arti2
cial Demonic,
and the Sixteenth- Century Witch- Craze,Ž
Criticism
 )*:….
. RichardK. Emmerson, Contextualizing Per for mance: 
e Reception of the Ches-
ter Antichrist,Ž
Journal of Medieval & Early Modern Studies
 )*:….
.
REED
Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills, :.
.
REED
Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills, :.
.
Middle En glish Treatise,
ed. Royster, p..
. Gregory,
Rye Spirits
, pp.….
(\t
. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
Historia Regum
ed. Wright, p.. Geo" rey later mentions
that Arthur was taken to Avalon to be healed of his wounds [
ad sananda uulnera sua in in-
sulam Avallonis euectus
], but since he also describes these wounds as mortal [
letaliter uulneratus
est
] and ends with a prayer for his soul [
anima eius in pace quiescat
], he endorses the idea that
Arthur is truly dead )p.*.
. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
Life of Merlin / Vita Merlini
, ed. and trans. Basil Clarke )Car-
: University of Wales Press, *, pp.… )lines …*.
 \t\b \t �\b …

.
REED
Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills, :.
. James Simpson,
Reform and Cultural Revolution: \b\r…\b\r\n ,
vol.  of
e Oxford En-
glish Literary History
)Oxford: Oxford University Press, *, p..
. Woolf, E"
ect of Typology,Ž p..
. 
omas,
Religion and the Decline of Magic
, p..
. Bromyard,
Summa Predicantium
, Trinitas , , quoted inG.G. Coulton,
e Medi-
eval Village
)Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, pp.….
. From the
Workes
of Mr.William Premble )d. *, quoted in 
omas,
Religion and
the Decline of Magic
, p.. In the
Middle Ages an idea seems to have circulated that the soul
resided in the bloodstream; see WalterL. Wake2
eld, Some Unorthodox Pop u lar Ideas of the
irteenth Century,Ž
Medievalia et Humanistica
 )*:, ….
. Robert Mannyng of Brunne,
Handlyng Synne
, ed. Idelle Sullens )Binghamton: State
University of New York Press, *, p..
. Wake2
eld, Some Unorthodox Pop u lar Ideas,Ž p. and n.
. Cited in Arnold,
Belief and Unbelief
, p.. A similar stress on the dignity of labor is
to be seen in a reported claim that a newly built church [was] no holier than the implements
that built itŽ )Wake2
eld, Some Unorthodox Pop u lar Ideas,Ž p.*.
. See Kittredge,
Witchcraft in Old and New Eng land
, pp.… )chap.: En glish
Witchcraft Before Ž*.
. R.H. Nicholson, 
e Trial of Christ the Sorcerer in the York Cycle,Ž
Journal of Me-
dieval and Re nais sance Studies
 )*:…, has argued for a parallel with En glish 2 fteenth-
century show trials that employed accusations of witchcraft for po liti cal purposes; the parallel
is certainly close, but its relevance for civic theater is less obvious.
. Boudet, Condamnations,Ž p. )art. *.
. Idley,
Instructions to His Son,
ed. DEvelyn, p. )lines …*.
.
Lower Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in Late- Medieval Eng land: 
e Courts of the Dean and
Chapter of Lincoln, \b…\b\n\f, and the Deanery of Wisbech, \b\n\r…\b\n\n
, ed.L.R. Poos )Oxford:
British Acad emy, *, p.xi n.
.
Depositions from the Courts of Durham,
ed. Raine, pp.,  )*,  )*.
.
Lower Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions,
ed. Poos, p..
.
Register of John Morton, III,
ed. Harper- Bill, nos. , , , . For other cases,
see Kathleen Kamerick, Shaping Superstition in Late Medieval Eng land,Ž
Magic, Ritual &
Witchcraft
 )*:….
.
Register of John Sta ord, Bishop of Bath and Wells, \b\n\t\r…\b\n\n
, ed. 
omas Scott Holmes,
 vols., Somerset Rec ord Society ,  )London: Harrison, , *, :. See also Rider,
Magic and Religion
, pp."
.
Lincoln Diocese Documents, \b\n\r…\b\r\n\n
, ed. Andrew Clark, EETS OS  )London:
Kegan Paul, *, p..
. Sometime between  and a man called Henry Hoiges brought a suit in Chan-
cery accusing a local priest of employing the sotill craft of enchauntement wycchecraft and
soceryeŽ against him )
Calendars of the Proceedings in Chancery, in the Reign of Queen Eliza-
 
\t\b \t �\b …
wolleŽ )
Pet.Hen.VI
in
Archaeol.Ael.n.s.
. *; As fysshes
at ar in the see By soden takyn with
an hookeŽ )Idley,
Instructions to His Son,
,*; I wolde not for my hat Be takyn with sich a
gyleŽ )
KEdw.&S.
[Cmb Ff..], *; Dravale . . . was takyn with enemyisŽ )
Paston
, . *.
.
e Dictionary of syr 
omas Eliot knyght
)London: Berthelet,  [
)nd ed.*:]*,
s.v. Lamiae.Ž
.
Promptorium parvulorum
, ed. Albert Way )London: Camden Society, *,
p.n.
. John Gardner,
e Construction of the Wake eld Cycle
)Carbondale: Southern Illinois
University Press, *, p..
.
e Towneley Plays
, ed. Martin Stevens andA.C. Cawley,  vols., EETS SS , 
)London: Oxford University Press, *, :.
. See DavidR. Cartlidge andJ. Keith Elliott,
Art and the Christian Apocrypha
)Lon-
don: Routledge, *, pp.….
.
Ludus Coventriae or 
e Plaie called Corpus Christ
i, ed.K.S. Block, EETS ES 
)London: Oxford University Press, *, p. )lines …*.
.
Chester Mystery Cycle,
ed. Lumiansky and Mills, p. )App.c*.
. William Langland,
Piers Plowman: 
e B Version
, ed. George Kane andE. Talbot Don-
aldson )London: Athlone Press, *, p. )Passus , line *.
. Rosemary Woolf, 
e E"
ect of Typology on the En glish Mediaeval Plays of Abra-
ham and Isaac,Ž
 )*:….
. V.A. Kolve,
e Play Called Corpus Christi
)Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press,
*, pp.….
. Arnold Williams, Typology and the Cycle Plays: Some Criteria,Ž

)*:….
. D.W. Robertson, 
e Question of Typology and the Wake2
eld
Mactacio Abel

American Benedictine Review
 )*:.
. Siegfried Wenzel, 
e Moor Maiden„ A Con temporary View,Ž
 )*:.
.
En glish Lyr ics of the XIII
y, ed. Carleton Brown )Oxford: Clarendon Press,
*, pp., .
. O.S. Pickering, A 
ird Text of Sey me viit in
e brom, Ž
En glish Studies
 )*:
…. As presented, the exchange is parodic, but some more primitive transaction seems to
underlie it. For a clear demonization of this motif, see Barillari,
Protostoria
, pp.….
.
Religious Lyr ics of the XIV
Century
, ed. Carleton Brown, nd ed. )Oxford: Claren-
don Press, *, pp., .
.  is poem is discussed at length by Siegfried Wenzel
, Poets, Preachers and the Early
En glish Lyric
)Prince ton,N.J.: Prince ton University Press, *, pp.…, …. Wenzel
demonstrates its secular origins but does not explore its super natu ral attributes. Both springs
and hawthorns, however, are associated with fairies. In the prose
Merlin
, for instance, the hero
is enchanted by Nimiane in the foreste of brochelonde [ under] a bussh that was feire and high
of white hawthorne full of 1
ouresŽ; see
Merlin,
ed. Wheatley, :.
. See
REED: Cheshire, Including Chester
, ed. Elizabeth Baldwin, LawrenceM. Clop-
per, and David Mills,  vols. )Toronto: University of Toronto Press, *, :lxxi.
. See
REED: Chester
, ed. LawrenceM. Clopper )Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
*, pp., …. …, , …, and passim.
.
REED
Chester,
ed. Clopper, p.;
REED
Cheshire, Including Chester,
ed. Baldwin,
Clopper, and Mills, :, annotation to line  )capes canesŽ*; cf.
REED: Chester,
ed. Clop-
per, p.: Christe in stringesŽ.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Bishop Richard Corbet,
Certain elegant poems, written by Dr.Corbet, Bishop of Nor-
)London: Andrew Crooke, *, p. )
Wing
[nd ed., ]:C* [punctuation mod-
ernized]; modern editions read, wrongly,
sprung
for
stolne
. Reginald Scot is less charitable: with
these fables is maintained an opinion, that men have beene begotten without carnall copula-
tion )as [Andreas] Hyperius and others wate that Merlin was, An. * speciallie to excuse and
mainteine the knaueries and lecheries of idle priests and bawdie monkes; and to cover the shame
of their louers and concubinesŽ )Scot,
Discouerie of Witchcraft
[], p. [bk. , chap.]*.
.
Kyng Alisaunder
, ed.G.V. Smithers,  vols., EETS OS ,  )London: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, , *, p. )B-text, lines …*.
.
Royal Historie,
ed. Furnivall, p. )lines …*.
Early South- English Legendary,
ed. Horstmann, pp.….
.
South En glish Legendary,
ed. DEvelyn and Mill, : )line *. Of the four MSS col-
lated by DEvelyn and Mill, one )B.L., MS Cotton JuniusD. IX* is reported as reading
dame
comon
, clearly a misreading of
. William Langland,
Piers Plowman: 
e A Version
, ed. George Kane )London: Ath-
lone Press, *, p. )lines …*.
.
e Chester Mystery Cycle
, ed.R.M. Lumianski and David Mills,  vols., EETS SS ,
 )London: Oxford University Press, , *, :.
. It is unclear why Lumianski and Mills should emend to
congeon
)as opposed to
con-
gion
[cf. Play , line ]*, or even
conjion
, here. In both this and the previous instance the
scribes seem to have had di$
culty with the word; at Play , line  they give
Hm,
connyon
R, and
B, and at Play , line ,
commen
Hm,
A,
conine
B,
conioyne
H.
. Is this a confused recollection of the notoriously di$
cult passage in Gen. :, 
sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took themselves wives of all which
they choseŽ )Douay- Rheims*? Augustine seeks to explicate this passage immediately after his
discussion of
incubi
and
dusii
in
City of God
):*.
.
e York Plays: A Critical Edition of the York Corpus Christi Play as Recorded in British
Library Additional MS \r\t\f
, ed. Richard Beadle,  vols., EETS SS ,  )London: Oxford
University Press, , *, :.
.
Six Middle En glish Romances,
ed. Mills, pp., .
. Alaric Hall, 
e Evidence for Maran, the Anglo- Saxon Nightmares, Ž
Neophilolo-
 )*:…. For vari ous 2 fteenth- century folk remedies for the
, see
Évangilles des quenouilles,
ed. Jeay, pp.….
.
En glish and Scottish Pop u lar Ballad
s, ed. Child, no. , st. .
. SharonL. Collingwood,
Market Pledge and Gender Bargain: Commercial Relations in
French Farce, \b\n\r…\b\r\r
)New York: Peter Lang, *, pp.….
. See particularly a good tract on the Decalogue,Ž quoted in Owst, Sortilegium,Ž
pp.….
.
Fasciculus Morum,
ed. Wenzel, pp.….
. Idley,
Instructions to His Son,
ed. DEvelyn, p. )lines …*.
. LindaE. Marshall, Sacral Parody in the
Secunda Pastorum

 )*:….
. Richard Kieckhe"
er,
Magic in the Middle Ages
)Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, *, pp.….
. See MED, s.v. forspekenŽ )c*.
. 
e MED gives the following examples: 
ys swerde woll I kepe but hit be takyn
fro me with forceŽ )Malory,
Works
[Win- C], /*; and takynge with enmys of the shippes
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Anonimo Romano,
Cronica: Vita di Cola di Rienzo
, ed. Ettore Mazzali )Milan: Riz-
zoli, *, pp.…; Mazzoli glosses
biscione
as 2
glio illegitimo and
scagnato
as scambiato.
.
Les lais Villon et les poèmes variés
, ed. Jean Rychner and Albert Henry,  vols. )Ge-
neva: Droz, *, :.
. Fran
ois Villon,
Le Testament Villon
, ed. Jean Rychner and Albert Henry,  vols. )Ge-
neva: Droz, *, :.
. 
e earliest citation in the OED is , but Richard Huloet,
Abcedarium anglico lati-
)London: William Riddel,  [
::]*, has chaungelyng chyldren
lamiae - rum
pueri subdititii
Ž )C.iii
*; cf. William Horman,
Vulgaria
)London: Pynson,  [
)nd
ed.*:]*: 
e fayre hath chaunged my childe,Ž as a translation of
Strix vel lamia pro meo
suum parvulum supposuit
)D.i*.
. For instance, the word appears 2
ve times in
Of Arthour and of Merlin
and in the
Ches-
ter Plays
)two and four citations respectively in the MED*, and twice in both the
South En
glish
Legendary
and
King Alisaunder
)once each in the MED*.
. W.R. Childs,  Welcome, My Brother: Edward II, John of Powderham and the
Chronicles, ,Ž in
Church and Chronicle in the Middle Age
s, ed. Ian Wood andG.A. Loud
)London: Hambledon Press, *, pp.…; Roy Martin Haines,
King Edward II: Edward
of Caenarfon, His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath
)Montreal: McGill- Queens University Press,
*, pp.….
.
e Anonimalle Chronicle \b …\b\n
, ed.W.R. Childs andJ. Taylor )Leeds: Yorkshire
Archaeological Society, *, p..
. Particularly in ter est ing is a passage in Robert Holcots
Super librum Sapientiae
clxxxix*; see Beryl Smalley,
En glish Friars and Antiquity in the Early Fourteenth Century
)Ox-
ford: Blackwell, *, p..
.
Chronicon de Lanercost, MCCI… MCCCXLVI
, ed. Joseph Stevenson )Edinburgh: Ban-
natyne Club, *, p..
.
Vita Edwardi Secundi
, ed. WendyR. Childs )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, p..
.
Anonimalle Chronicle,
ed. Childs and Taylor, p.. It would also, of course, have served
to quash rumors that Prince Edward had been switched for Powderham by his nurses, but since
the reason given for their doing this was that their carelessness had led to the babys mutilation
) either by falling into a 2 re or being savaged by a pig9*, Powderhams own appearance would
have been su$
cient refutation.
. Robert Fabyan,
e New Chronicles of Eng land and France
, ed. Henry Ellis )London:
Rivington, *, p..
. Ronald Hutton, 
e Making of Early Modern British Fairy Tradition,Ž
Historical
Journal
 )*:.
.
Ancrene Wisse,
ed. Bella Millett etal.,  vols., EETS ,  )London: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, , *, :.
.
Of Arthour and of Merlin,
ed. Macrae- Gibson, : )line *.
.
Secular Lyr ics of the XIVth and XVth Centuries
, ed. Rossell Hope Robbins )Oxford:
Clarendon Press, *, no. , p..
.
e Early South- English Legendary, or Lives of Saints
, ed. Carl Horstmann
EETS OS
 )London: Tr
bner, *, p. )lines …*.
.
Mum and the Sothsegger
, ed. Mabel Day and Robert Steele, EETS OS  )London:
Oxford University Press, *, p. )Passus , line *.
.
Of Arthour and of Merlin,
ed. Macrae- Gibson, : )line *.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II, iii,  ) ed., :bH…aA*.
. Higden,
Speculum Curatorum,
ed. Crook and Jennings, pp.…; Hansen,
Quellen
und Untersuchungen
, p.;
Malleus Male carum,
ed. and trans. MacKay, : )D…A*.
. Jean- Claude Schmitt,
e Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children Since the 
ir-
teenth Century
, trans. Martin 
om )Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, pp.…
. See also Baudouin Gai$
er, Le Diable, voleur denfants,Ž in
Études critiques dhagiographie
 
\t\b \t �\b …
reference to a general Spanish term for the wild ride, as is made clear earlier in [William of
Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :aB*. *  e changeling analogy in Jacques de
Vitrys
Sermones Vulgares
is
not
one of three testimonies, each of which provides evidence for
the objective real ity of the devilŽ )p.*; the three witnesses are actually the law, the proph-
ets, and the gospels, and those who hear them but do not follow them are like changelings
who eat but do not put on weight.
. MacCulloch,
Medieval Faith and Fable
, p..
. Gramsci,
Se lections from Cultural Writings
, p..
. One of the exempla inB.L., MS Royal .D. I, for example, concerns a nun who pros-
titutes herself at a local fair, but while she is away from the cloister a demon provides a substi-
tute so that no one notices her absence [
demon quidem interim idolum ipsius in equali forma
optinuit itaque nunquam abisse mulier putabatur
] )f. 
*; see Herbert,
Cata logue of Romances
p. )no. *.
. E.g., Briggs,
Fairies in En glish Tradition
, pp.….
. Ralph of Coggeshall,
Chronicon Anglicanum
, ed. Joseph Stephenson, Rolls Series )Lon-
don and Edinburgh: Longman, *, pp.…. See, e.g., Katharine Briggs,
e Vanishing
People: Fairy Lore and Legends
)New York: Pantheon, *, p..
.
A Middle En glish Treatise on the Ten Commandments
, ed. James Finch Royster )Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, *, p..
. See Alaric Hall, Calling the Shots: 
e Old En glish Remedy
Gif hors ofscoten sie
and Anglo- Saxon Elf- Shot, Ž
Neuphilologische Mitteilungen
 )*:…; and Alaric
Hall, Getting Shot of Elves: Healing, Witchcraft and Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft
Trials,Ž
Folklore
 )*:…. Curiously elf- shot does not seem to be recorded in Middle
En glish, despite occurring in both the Anglo- Saxon and in the early modern period; how-
ever, a pos si ble Latin calque, a charm o"
ering protection
a morsu alphorum
, appears in John
Bromyards
Summa Predicantium
)ed. *, :b )S. XI.  [s.v. sortilegiumŽ]*. Middle
glish does, however, use another term, elf- taken, to describe a medical complaint,
though this appears sometimes to be confused with descriptions of changelings. See OED
and MED, s.v. elf.Ž
.
Depositions and Other Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Courts of Durham
, [ed. James
Raine,] Surtees Society )London: Nichols, *, p..
.
Register of John Morton, III,
ed. Harper- Bill, p. )no. *.
. Gui,
Manuel,
ed. and trans. Mollat, :….
. [Paris],
Chronica Maiora,
ed. Luard, :.
. Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald, p..
.
Six Middle En glish Romances,
ed. Mills, p..
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, p..
. Reidar Christiansen, Some Notes on the Fairies and the Fairy Faith,Ž
Béalodeas
…
 )…*:.
. Susan Schoon Eberly, Fairies and the Folklore of Disability: Changelings, Hybrids
and the Solitary Fairy,Ž
Folklore
 )*:….
. John Lindow, Changelings, Changing, Re- exchanges: 
oughts on the Relationship
Between Folk Belief and Legend,Ž in
Legends and Landscape: Plenary Papers from the \rth Celtic-
Nordic- Baltic Folklore Symposium
, ed. Terry Gunnell )Reykjav
k: H
fan,  *,
pp.….
. Cf. Jean- Michel Doulet,
Quand les démons enlevaient les enfants, Les changelins:
Étude
dune  gure mythique
)Paris: Sorbonne, *, p..
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Chestre,
Sir Launfal,
ed. Bliss, pp.….
.
Lais féeriques,
ed. Micha, pp.…, ….
.
Lais féeriques,
ed. Micha, pp.….
. Anne Reynders, Le Roman de Partonopeu de Blois est-il l
uvre dun pr
curseur
de Chr
tien de Troyes?,Ž
Le Moyen
 )*:….
.
Partonopeu de Blois,
ed. Collet and Joris; [
Partonope of Blois
],
Middle En glish Versions
of Partonope,
ed. Trampe B
dtker.
. For analyses of this scene, see Dubost,
Aspects fantastiques
, :…; and Gingras,
 
\t\b \t �\b …
Chronicle )…*,Ž in
Essays in History Presented to Reginald Lane Poole
, ed.H.W.C.
Davis )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, pp.….
Of Arthour and of Merlin
, ed.O.D. Macrae- Gibson,  vols., EETS ,  )London:
Early En glish Text Society, , *, : )line *.
. Robert de Boron,
Merlin,
ed. Micha, p. )cf. p., lines …*.
. [Gerald of Wales],
Giraldi Cambrensis Opera,
ed. Brewer, :.
. [Higden],
Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden,
ed. Babington, :….
.
Robert le diable
, ed.E. L
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Cologny, Switzerland, Martin Bodmer Foundation, MS , f. 
. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
Historia Regum, \t,
ed. Wright, p. cxiv. An already sophisti-
cated text was known to Wace in , which suggests that this 2 rst variant version may well
date to the s.
. William of Newburgh,
History of En glish A airs,
ed. Walsh and Kennedy, p. )
Pro-
emium
.
An Anglo- Norman Brut (Royal \b.A. XXI)
, ed. Alexander Bell, ANTS, … )Oxford:
Blackwell, *, pp.… )lines , *.
.
Castlefords Chronicle or the Boke of Brut
, ed. CarolineD. Eckhardt,  vols., EETS OS
,  )London: Oxford University Press, *, : )lines …*
. Monik
is not included
in the
Middle En glish Dictionary
[MED]; it appears to be an aphetic form of
demoniak
.
e Brut, or 
e Chronicles of Eng land
, ed. FriedrichW.D. Brie,  vols., EETS OS ,
 )London: Kegan Paul, , *, :.
. [Higden],
Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden,
ed. Babington, :….
. John Harding,
e Chronicle of John Hardyng
, ed. Henry Ellis )London: Rivington,
*, pp.….
. Robert de Boron,
Merlin, roman du XIIIe siècle
, ed. Alexandre Micha )Geneva: Droz,
*.
. Elspeth Kennedy,
Lancelot and the Grail: A Study of the Prose Lancelot
)Oxford: Clar-
endon Press, *, pp.…; ElspethM. Kennedy, 
e Role of the Super
natu
ral in the First
Part of the Old French Prose
Lancelot
,Ž in
Studies in Medieval Lit er a ture and Languages in Mem-
ory of Frederick Whitehead
 
\t\b \t �\b …
J. Hammer, Bref commentaire de la
Prophetia Merlini
du ms  de la Biblioth
que de la
Cath
drale dExeter,Ž in
Hommages
Joseph Bidez et
Franz Cumont
)Brussels: Latomus,
*, p..
. See Lewis,
Discarded Image
, pp.….
. On the identity of the author, see DavidN. Dumville,  Nennius and the
Historia
Brittonum

Studia Celtica
 )*:….
. Nennius,
British History and Welsh Annals
, ed. and trans. John Morris )London: Philli-
more; Totowa,N.J.: Rowman and Little2
eld, *, pp.,  )chap.*. 
e Vatican recen-
sion is even more explicit: uirum
in coitu
numquam cognouiŽ and a$
rmauit quod 2 lius eius
patrem non haberet
carnalem
Ž; see
e Historia Brittonum,
vol. :
e Vatican Recension
, ed.
DavidN. Dumville )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, p..
. London, British Library MS, Royal .D. I, f. a.
. John Brugmans second life of Saint Lidwina, in
Acta Sanctorum Aprilis collecta, di-
gesta, illustrata . . . Tomvs II. quo medii XI dies continentur
)Antwerp: Michael Cnobarus *,
p.B )*.
.
Roman de Brut,
ed. Arnold, :… )lines …* and… )lines …*.
. Wace seems to have taken this from the so- called 2 rst variant version of the
Historia
see Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
e Historia Regum Britannie of Geo rey of Monmouth, \t: 
e First
Variant Version
, ed. Neil Wright )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, p. []. It is therefore all
the more remarkable that he resists the 2 rst variant versions more critical attitude to Merlins
mother.
. Robert Manning of Brunne,
e Story of Eng land (\b
*, ed. FrederickJ. Furnivall, 
vols., Rolls Series )London: Longman, *, :….
Patrologia Latina
, :A.
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, pp.….
. La
amon,
Brut
, ed.G.L. Brook andR.F. Leslie,  vols., EETS ,  )London:
Oxford University Press, , *, : )lines …*. Quotations are taken from the
)fuller*B.L., MS Cotton Caligula,A. IX here, and punctuation has been modernized.
. La
amon,
Brut
, p. )lines …*.
. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
e Historia Regum Britannie of Geo rey of Monmouth, \r: Gesta
Regum Britannie
, ed. Neil Wright )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, pp.… ):…*.
. John Koch, Anglonormannische Texte im Ms. Arundel  des Britischen Muse-
ums,Ž
Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie
 )*: )lines …*.
.
oman de Brut,
d. Arnold, : )apparatus to line *.
.
Roman de Brut,
ed. Arnold, : )lines […]*.
. A thirteenth- century spell
Pur faies
, for instance, begins Conjuro vos, elvesŽ; see
Anglo-
Norman Medicine II: Shorter Treatises
, ed. Tony Hunt )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *,
pp.…. Latham,
Elizabethan Fairies
, pp.…, argues that a distinction between the two
terms had arisen by the Elizabethan period.
. Robert of Gloucester,
Metrical Chronicle,
ed.W.A. Wright,  vols., Rolls Series )Lon-
don: Longman, *, :.
. O.S. Pickering, 
South En glish Legendary
Style in Robert of Gloucesters
Chronicle

Medium
 )*:….
.
South En glish Legendary,
ed. DEvelyn and Mill, :.
. Robert of Gloucester, A Fifteenth- Century Prose Paraphrase of Robert of Glouces-
ters
Chronicle
,Ž ed. AndrewD. Lipscomb, Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Cha-
pel Hill, , p..
 \t\b \t �\b …

In libris philosophorum nostrorum et in pluribus historiis repperi multos homines huiusmodi pro-
creationem habuisse
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :aH*. William cites a
certain Historia regnorum OccidentaliumŽ; for an identi2
cation of this work with Jordaness
 
\t\b \t �\b …
.
Acta Sanctorum Octobris, I (quo dies primus & secundus continentur)
)Antwerp: Plass-
che, *, p.F )*.
. John Bromyard,
Summa Predicantium
)Venice, *, :b )S. XI. ; s.v. sortile-
giumŽ*.
. William of Newburgh,
History of En glish A airs,
ed. Walsh and Kennedy, pp.…
):*.
.
e Life of St Hugh of Lincoln
, ed. DecimaL. Douie and Hugh Farmer,  vols. )Lon-
don: Nelson, , *, :….
. 
e story may well be traditional; it is also the subject of one of the exempla in British
Library, MS Royal  DI. )f. a*. Cf.J.A. Herbert,
Cata logue of Romances in the Department
of Manuscripts in the British Museum
, vol.  )London: Trustees of the British Museum, *,
p. )no. *.
. In latin it is named
Incubus
and
Succubus
. In Englyshe it is named the Mare. And
some say that it is kynd of spirites, the which doth infect and trou ble men when they be in
theyr beddes slepynge, as Saynt Augustine saythe . . . I haue red, as many more hath done, that
can tell yf I do wryte true or false, there is an herbe named
fuga Demonum
, or as the Grecians
do name it
Ipericon
. In Englyshe it [is] named saynt Johns worte, the which herbe is of that
vertue that it doth repell suche malyfycyousnes or spiritesŽ; see Andrew Borde,
e Fyrst Boke
of the Introduction of Knowledge
, ed.F.J. Furnivall, EETS ES  )London: Tr
bner, *,
pp.…. See also Briggs, Some Seventeenth- Century Books of Magic,Ž p..
. In  Jehan Perrot of Saint- Pourcain deposed that he had been lured from his bed
by a female spirit who ordered him to spread his cloak on the ground: il lui sembla quelle lui
gettoit or et argent dussus icelle robe, at avec se lui sembloit quil en avoit plus quil nen por-
roit porteŽ [it seemed to him that she threw down gold and silver on this cloak for him, and
moreover there was more than he could possibly carry]; see Roger Vaultier,
Le Folklore pendant
la guerre de Cent Ans
)Paris: Gu
gaud, *, p..
.
e Life and Miracles of St William of Norwich
, ed. Augustus Jessop and Montague
Rhodes James )Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, pp.… )bk. , chap.*.
. Forte, Cambridge Dominican Collector of Exempla,Ž p.. For other incubi stories
in the same collection, see Herbert,
Cata logue of Romances,
: )nos. , , , , *.
. [
omas of Cantimpr
],
Bonum Universale
, p. )cf. paras. , , , *.
.
Liber Commentarii in II sententiarum
, Dist. VIII.A. Art. V, in [Albertus Magnus],
Alberti Magni Opera Omnia
, ed.S.C.A. Borgnet,  vols. )Paris: Viv
s, …*, :.
. Hector Boece,
Scotorum historiae a prima gentis origine libri xvii
)Paris: Ascensius, *,
f. a., lines … )bk. *.
. [
omas of Cantimpr
],
Bonum Universale
, p.;
Dives and Pauper,
ed. Barnum, ,
:… )VI. xxi*.
. Carl Horstmann, Die Evangelien- Geschichten des Homiliensammlung des Ms. Ver-
non,Ž
Archiv für das Studium der neueren Spachen und Literaturen
 )*:.
. A marginal gloss on fendis [
demonia
] )Isa., :* in the second version of the
Wycli
Bible
reads, that is, fendis incubi, other wodewosis, as doctours seienŽ; see [
li
te Bible
],
e Holy Bible . . . by John Wycli e and His Followers
, ed. Josiah Forshall and Frederic Mad-
den,  vols. )Oxford: Oxford University Press, *, :.
. Si
n Echard,  Hic est Artur: Reading Latin and Reading Arthur,Ž in
New Direc-
tions in Arthurian Studies
, ed. Alan Lupak )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, pp.….
. Geo"
rey of Monmouth,
e Historia Regum Britannie of Geo rey of Monmouth, \b:
Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS. \r
, ed. Neil Wright )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, p. []
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Clancy,
Abducted
, p.. Cf.O. Davies, 
e Nightmare Experience, Sleep Paralysis,
and Witchcraft Accusations,Ž
Folklore
 )*:….
. Higden,
Speculum Curatorum,
ed. Crook and Jennings, pp.….
. James I, King of Eng land,
Dæmonologie (\b\r\f ); Newes from Scotland (\b\r\f\b)
, ed.G.B.
Harrison )New York:E.P. Dutton, *, p..
. For this useful distinction, see DavidJ. Hu"
ord,
e Terror 
at Comes in the Night:
An Experience- Centered Study of Super natu ral Assault Traditions
)Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, *, p..
. For a useful overview of the medieval incubus, see Nicholas Kiessling,
e Incubus in
En glish Lit er a ture: Provenance and Progeny
)Pullman: Washington State University Press, *.
. See Hu"
ord,
e Terror 
at Comes in the Night
, pp.…, for an analogous confu-
sion in the work of Ernest Jones.
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.….
. Augustine,
City of God
, :… ):*; Le Go"
Pour un autre moyen
âge
, p.n.
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, p..
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia Imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.xxix… xxx.
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, pp., . Map is one of the earliest writers
to use the term succubus, a medieval Latin neologism )in classical Latin
incubus
is gender
neutral*.
.
Le roman de Brut
, ed. Ivor Arnold,  vols., Soci
des anciens textes fran
ais )Paris:
Firmin Didot, , *, : )apparatus to line *.
. Raoul de Presles,
de Civitate Dei
, liv. XV, chap. )from Paris, MSB.N., Fran
ais ,
" . r andr*.
.
Le roman de Troie
, ed. L
opold Constans,  vols., Soci
des anciens textes fran
ais
)Paris: Firmin Didot, …*, : )line *.
. John Lydgate,
Troy Book
, ed. Henry Bergen,  vols., EETS ES , , ,  )Lon-
don: Kegan Paul, …*, :.
. Lydgate,
Troy Book
, : )lines …*.
.
Dives and Pauper
, ed. PriscillaH. Barnum,  vols. )in  pts.*, EETS , ,  )Lon-
don: Oxford University Press, …*, , : )VI.xxi*.
. Hansen,
Quellen und Untersuchungen
, p..
. K.M. Briggs, Some Seventeenth- Century Books of Magic,Ž
klore
 )*:.
. Incubus quidam nominans se regem Goldemar adhaesit cuidam armigero dicto
Neveling de Hardenburg
in Comitatu de Marca prope 1
umen
. Incubus loquebatur cum
hominibus, lusit in instrumento musicali, perceptibiliter lusit ad taxillos, pecunias exposuit,
vinum bibit, visibiliter tamen multis tam religiosis quam secularibus responsa dedit, sed cre-
bro religiosos, scelera eorum occulta recitando, confudit. Hospitem suum praedictum saepius
ad inimicorum suorum adventum praemonuit, et contra eos consilia dedit. Manus duntaxat
palpandas preaebuit, manus erant graciles et molles, ac si quis tangeret murem vel ranam. . . .
Haec omnia a multis audivi, post, anno XXVI. ab ipso Nevelung plenius intellexi. Quem
etiam docuit, ut hoc verso se signaret.
Increatus Pater, increatus Fillius, increatus SpritusS.
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Wright,
Se lection of Latin Stories
, p.. Earlier En glish instances are to be found in
e Penitential of Bartholomew of Exeter
, in
Medieval Handbooks of Penance: A Translation of
the Principal libri poenitentiales and Se lections from Related Documents
, ed. and trans. JohnT.
McNeill and HelenaM. Gamer )New York: Columbia University Press, *, p.; [John of
Salisbury],
Policraticus,
ed.K.S.B. Keats- Rohan, Corpus christianorum,  )Turnholt: Brepols,
*, p. ):*; and the Anglo- Norman preachers handbook, [
Le Manuel des péchés
],
Robert
of Brunnes Handlyng Synne with . . . William of Waddingtons Manuel de Pechie
z, ed.F.J. Fur-
nivall, EETS OS  )London: Early En glish Text Society, *, p. )unlike his original,
Robert Mannyng does not explic itly mention the priest*.
. G.R. Owst, Sortilegium in En glish Homiletic Lit er a ture of the Fourteenth Century,Ž
in
Studies Presented to Sir Hilary Jenkinson
, ed.J. Conway Davies )London: Oxford University
Press, *, p..
. See GeorgeL. Kittredge,
Witchcraft in Old and New Eng land
)Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, *, p..
.
Évangiles des quenouilles
, ed. Madeleine Jeay )Montreal: Presses de lUniversit
de Montr
al, *, p..
.
Of Shrifte and Penance: 
e ME Prose Translation of Le Manuel des péchés
, ed. Klaus
Bitterling )Heidelberg: Winter, *, p..
. Gramsci,
Se lections from Cultural Writings
, p..
. Cf. une
tude des comportements culturels du peuple r
lent souvent une r
la-
tion de d
ance et de d
fence
gard des messages dominants,Ž in Le Go"
Limaginaire
médiéval,
p. )quoting Roger Chartier*.
. Gramsci,
Se lections from Cultural Writings
, p..
. Marjorie Swann, 
e Politics of Fairylore in Early Modern Lit er a ture,Ž
Re nais sance
Quarterly
 )*:.
. Aisling Byrne, Fairy Lovers: Sexuality, Order and Narrative in Medieval Romance,Ž
in
Sexual Culture in the Lit er a ture of Medieval Britain
, ed. Amanda Hopkins, Robert Allen
Rouse, and Cory James Rushton )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, p..
. Antonio Gramsci,
Se lections from the Prison Notebooks
, ed. and trans. Quintin Hoare
and Geo"
rey Nowell Smith )New York: International Publishers, *, p.n.
. John Speirs,
Medieval En glish Poetry: 
e Non- Chaucerian Tradition
)London: Faber
and Faber, *, written in the shadow of an occultist modernism, associates his folkloric non-
Chaucerian traditionŽ with such Leavisite fetishes asT.S. Eliot andD.H. Lawrence, a very
er ent ideological construct from the one I am contemplating here. SeeR.H. Robbins,
 Middle En glish Misunderstood: Mr Speirs and the Goblins,Ž
Anglia
 )*:….
. [John Gerson].
Joannis Gersonii Opera omnia nova ordine digesta, & inV. tomos dis-
tributa
Antwerp: Sumptibus societatis, *, :. See Fran
se Bonney, Autour de Jean
Gerson: Opinions de th
ologiens sur les superstitions et la sorcellerie au d
but du XV
cle,Ž
Moyen
 )*:….
(\t
. Guibert of Nogent,
Monodies
and
On the Relics of the Saints
, trans. Joseph McAlhany
and Jay Rubenstein )London: Penguin Books, *, pp.… )
Monodies
, :*.
. Clancy,
Abducted
, p..
 \t\b \t �\b …

.
Yonec
, lines …, …, in Marie de France,
Lais
, ed. Alfred Ewart, introd.
GlynS. Burgess )Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, *, pp.…;
Lai de Désiré
, lines …,
in
Lais féeriques,
ed. Micha, p..
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, pp.…; cf. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia impe-
rialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.….
. [
Richard the Lionheart
],
Der mittelenglische Versroman
über Richard Löwenherz
, ed.
Karl Brunner )Vienna and Leipzig: Wilhelm Braum
ller, *, p., lines ….
. For other accounts, see Harf- Lancner,
Fées au moyen
âge
, p.n.
. Cooper,
En glish Romance in Time
, p..
. See Linda D
gh,
Legend and Belief: Dialectics of a Folklore Genre
)Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, *, pp.….
. See Valette,
Poétique du merveilleux
, pp.….
. RobinG. Collingwood,
e Philosophy of Enchantment: Studies in Folktale, Cultural
Criticism, and Anthropology
)Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, p..
. Cooper,
En glish Romance in Time
, p..
. Hans- Robert Jauss, 
eorie der Gattungen und Literatur des Mittelalters,Ž
Grun-
driss der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters
 )Generalit
s* )*:…; the quotation is
taken from the abridged translation in
Modern Genre 
eory
, ed. David Du"
)London: Long-
man, *, p..
. D.S. Brewer, 
e Interpretation of Fairy Tales,Ž in
A Companion to the Fairy Tale
ed. Hilda Ellis Davidson and Anna Chaudhri )Woodbridge:D.S. Brewer, *, p..
. See, for example, JanM. Ziolkowski,
Fairy Tales from Before Fairy Tales: 
e Medi-
eval Latin Past of Wonderful Lies
)Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, *.
. Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm,
Deutsche Sagen
,  vols. in one )Munich: Win-
kler, *, p..
. See Jacques Le Go"
and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, M
 
\t\b \t �\b …
us Launfal, wythouten fable, /
at noble kny
e Rounde Table / Was take ynto FayryeŽ
)Chestre,
Launfal
, ed. Bliss, lines …* with And shee brought Sir Lambewell from Carlile /
Farr into a jolly iland / 
at clipped was AmilionŽ )
Sir Lambewell
, lines …*. See
Sir Lam-
bewell,
in
e Percy Folio of Old En glish Ballads and Romances
, ed. Frederick James Furnivall
and John Wesley Hales,  vols. )London: De la More, …*, :….
.
A Royal Historie of the Excellent Knight Generide
s, ed. FrederickJ. Furnivall )Lon-
don: Roxburghe Club, *.
. Sara Sturm,
e Lay of Guingamor: A Study
)Chapel Hill: University of North Caro-
lina Press, *, p.. For
Guingamor
)line * and
Tydorel
)lines …*, see
Lais féeriques,
ed. Micha, pp., .
. Sarah- Grace Heller, Obscure Lands and Obscured Hands: Fairy Embroidery and
the Ambiguous Vocabulary of Medieval Textile Decoration,Ž
Medieval Clothing and Textiles
)*:….
.
 \t\b \t �\b …

faulces. Et par ces raisons on ny doit point adjouster de foyŽ; see [
Second Lucidaire
], ed. Ruhe,
in
Gelehrtes Wissen,
p. [Druck I].
. Even if this attribution is false, the prophecies that bear his name were closely iden-
ed with the Augustinian priory of Bridlington; seeA.G. Rigg, John of Bridlingtons
Proph-
: A New Look,Ž
 )*:….
. See
e Divination of Demons
in Saint Augustine,
Treatises of Marriage and Other
Subjects
, ed. RoyJ. Deferrari )New York: Fathers of the Church, *, p.. A more cautious
position is taken in Augustine,
City of God
, :… ):*; and Saint Augustine,
De Doctrina
Christiana
, : )Saint Augustine,
On Christian Doctrine
, trans.D.W. Robertson [New
York: Bobbs- Merrill, ], pp.…*. See also Veenstra,
Magic and Divination
, pp.…,
for a summary of Augustines views in an early 2 fteenth- century tract,
Le Traitié
contre les
divineurs
, , .
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :aH*.
.
Boke of Huon of Burdeu
x, ed. Lee, :. 
e romance contains even more bizarre
con1
ations of Christian and fairy belief than this; see Albert Gier, Comment on devient f
e:
La f
erie chr
tienne d
Esclamonde
,Ž in
Die Welt der Feen im Mittlealter / Le monde des fées dans
la culture mediévale
, ed. Danielle Buschinger and Wolfgang Spiewok, Greifswalder Beitr
ge
zum Mittelalter  )Greifswald: Reineke- Verlag, *, pp.….
. Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald, p..
.
Medieval En glish Romances
, ed.A.V.C. Schmidt and Nicolas Jacobs,  vols. )Lon-
don: Hodder and Stoughton, *, :….
.
e Breton Lays in Middle En glish
, ed.  omasC. Rumble )Detroit: Wayne State Uni-
versity Press, *, pp.….
.
Sire Degarré
, ed. Gustav Schleich )Heidelberg: Carl Winters Universit
tsbuchhand-
lung, *, p..
. In the Cambridge manuscript this reads, a paire of gloues / 
at were sende hur
owt of Elues landeŽ )
Sire Degarré
, ed. Schleich, p.*.
. See Cooper,
En glish Romance in Time
, pp.….
.
Lybeaus Desconus
, ed.M. Mills, EETS OS  )London: Oxford University Press,
*.
. Renaut de Beaujeu,
Le Bel Inconnu
, ed.G. Perrie Williams )Paris: Champion, *.
.
Lybeaus Desconus
, ed. Mills, p. )line *.
.
ybeaus Desconus,
d. Mills, p. )lines …*.
.
Lybeaus Desconus,
ed. Mills, p. )line *. 
e reading
fantasme
is partially sup-
ported by one other manuscript, Lincolns Inn MS Hale , which reads
fantume
Lybeaus
Desconus,
ed. Mills, p.*.
. It may even be observed in chronicle writing. Carl Watkins has recently shown how
later redactions and manuscript copies of William of Newburgh, a writer interested in fairy
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Elioxe, despite having inherited nine cities and 2
fty castles from her father )lines …
*, lives in a cave under a mountain„ Es cavernes del mont la ot abitementŽ )line *„ and
is speci2
cally called a
fée
at line ; see
, ed. EmanuelJ. Mickel, Jr., in
e Old French
Crusade Cycle I: La naissance du Chevalier au cygne
)[Tuscaloosa]: University of Alabama Press,
*, pp.….
.
Boke of Duke Huon of Burdeux,
ed. Lee, :. In the thirteenth- century verse origi-
nal, Auberon says he does not wish to live longer„ je ne vuelz plux es ciecle demoreirŽ )line
*„ nor does he choose to remain in fairyland„ En faerie ne veul plus arresterŽ )line
*; see
Huon de Bordeaux, chanson de geste du XIIIe siècle
, ed. WilliamW. Kibler, trans.
Fran
ois Suard )Paris: Champion, *, p..
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :bD…aE*.
Fatati
here evidently means something more than simply fated, a sense William had
discussed earlier; see [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
I. iii,  ):aD*. Perhaps
milites
fatati
resembled in some way the
benandanti
discussed by Carlo Ginzburg,
e Night Battles:
Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
, trans. John and Anne
Tedeschi )Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, *.
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :bB…bF*.
. [Ranulph Higden],
Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: Together with
the En glish Translations of John Trevisa
, ed. Churchill Babington etal.,  vols., Rolls Series )Lon-
don: Longman, …*, :.
.
Boke of Huon of Burdeux,
ed. Lee, :….
. Cf.
Esclarmonde,
ed. Schweigel, lines … )pp.…*.
. She calls limmortalit
. . . le privil
ge des
tres surnaturelsŽ; see Harf- Lancner,
Fées
au moyen
âge
, p..
.
Lancelot do Lac,
ed. Kennedy, :.
. [John of Salisbury],
Frivolities of Courtiers and Footprints of Phi los o phers: Being a Trans-
lation of the First, Second, and 
ird Books and Se lections from the Seventh and Eighth Books of
Policraticus
of John of Salisbury
, trans. JosephB. Pike )Minneapolis: University of Minne-
sota Press, *, p..
. William of Newburgh,
History of En glish A air
s, ed. Walsh and Kennedy, pp.…
Proemium
.
omas of Erceldoune,
ed. Nixon, : )
ornton MS, lines …*.
. Als y yod on a Mounday,Ž in Peter Langtoft,
e Chronicle
, ed. 
omas Wright, 
vols., Rolls Series )London: Longmans, Green, , *, :…. 
is poem is related to
the later ballad  e Wee Wee ManŽ )in
En glish and Scottish Pop u lar Ballads,
. Child, no.
*; seeE.B. Lyle, 
e Wee Wee Man
and
Als y yod on a Mounday
,Ž in
Ballad Studies
, ed.E.B.
Lyle )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer, *, pp.….
. Antoine de la Sale,
Le Paradis de la reine Sibylle,
ed. Desonay. Sibile, distant relative
of the ancient Sybil, is one of the guises of the medieval fairyŽ; see Anne Paupert,
Les Fileuses
et le clerc
Une
étude des Evangiles des Quenouilles
)Paris: Champion, *, p..
. [
Lucydarye
],
Late Middle En glish
Lucydarye, ed. Morrison, p.. Cf. Les dittes fees
disoient que les gens estoyent destin
s les ungz a bien, les autres a mal selon le cours du ciel et
de nature, comme se ung enfant naissoit de telle heure et en tel cours il luy estoit destin
quil
seroit pendu ou ney
ou quil seroit riche ou povre ou quil espouseroit une telle femme, lesquelles
choses sont faulce, car lomme a en soy liberal arbitre et volunt
franche de faire bien ou mal
tellement que sil veult, il ne fera pas chose pour quoy il soit pendu ne ne se mettra pas au dan-
gier destre ney
, nespousera ja femme sil ne le veult faire; et ainsi ses destinacions seront
 \t\b \t �\b …

.
omas of Erceldoune,
ed. Nixon, : )
ornton MS, lines …*.
.
Itinerarium Kambriae
):*, in [Gerald of Wales],
Giraldi Cambrensis Opera
, vol. , ed.
JamesF. Dimock, Rolls Series  )London: HMSO, *, p..
. Interestingly, in a late manuscript of
omas of Erceldoune
)B.L., MS Lansdowne *,
the hero suspects a demonic delusion: Sche woxe so grym and so stowte / 
e dewyll he wende
she had beŽ )lines …*. 
e lady immediately denies it, however„ fende of hell am I noneŽ
)line *„ and the fact that neither his conjuring at this point nor his prayers to Mary )
orn-
ton and Cambridge MSS* and Jesus )Lansdowne and Cambridge MSS* a few lines later have
any e"
ect on her suggests that this view is the poets.
. See further Angelica Rieger,  Dame plus bele que f
e: Une expression proverbiale et
son histoire dans les litt
ratures fran
 
\t\b \t �\b …
.
En glish Conquest of Ireland,A.D. \b\b…\b\b\r, Mainly from the Expugnatio hibernica of
Giraldus Cambrensis
, ed.F.J. Furnivall, EETS OS  )London: Kegan Paul, *, p..
. John Capgrave,
Abbreuiacion of Chonicles
, ed. PeterJ. Lucas, EETS  )London: Ox-
ford University Press, *, p..
.
Liber exemplorum
, ed. Little, p..
. One of the fullest accounts of fairy activities written in Eng land, for instance, is a
chapter )on the tricks of demonsŽ* in Ranulph Higdens treatment of the First Com-
mandment:
Speculum Curatorum: A Mirror for Curates, Book I,
Dallas Medieval Texts and
Translations, ., ed. and trans. Eugene Crook and Margaret Jennings )Leuven: Peeters,
*, pp.….
. [Jean dOutremeuse],
Ly Myreur des histors, chronique de Jean des Preis dit dOutremeuse
ed. Stanislas Bormans and Adolfe Borgnet,  vols. )Brussels: Acad
mie royale de Belgique,
*, :.
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, p..
. E.T. Donaldson, 
e Millers Tale, A …,Ž
Modern Language Notes
 )*:….
.
Procès en nullité
, ed. Duparc, :.
.
Procès en nullité
, ed. Duparc, :. Of those testifying in Domr
my, Stephen de
Syon )a priest* and Louis de Martigny )a squire* also deny knowing anything, but they do not
seem to have been locals )pp.…, …*. More in ter est ing is a third priest, Dominic
Jacob, who, though no longer living there, seems to have been brought up in Domr
my; he
recalls the dancing and picnicking at the tree but has nothing to say about fairies )p.*.
is fact is only occasionally acknowledged; see, for example,J.A. MacCulloch,
Me-
dieval Faith and Fable
)Boston: Jones, *, p.; Cameron,
Enchanted Eu rope
, p..
. [Caesarius of Heisterbach],
Dialogus miraculorum,
ed. Strange, : ):*.
. Chestre,
Launfal,
ed. Bliss, p..
.
Aucassin et Nicolette, chantefable du XIIIe siècle
, ed. Mario Roques )Paris: Champion,
*, p. ):…*.
.
William of Palerne: An Electronic Edition
, ed.G.H.V. Bunt )Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press, *, lines …. In the French original )lines …*, it is because Wil-
liam is all alone that the emperor thinks he is a fairy; see
Guillaume de Palerne, roman du XIII
siècle
, ed. Alexandre Micha )Geneva: Droz, *, p..
. Mout bele e ascemee / Si resemble ben feeŽ )lines …*; see [
Lai du Cor
],
e Anglo-
Norman Text of Le Lai du Cor,
ed.C.T. Erickson, ANTS,  )Oxford: Blackwell, *, p..
.
Wars of Alexander: An Alliterative Romance,
ed. WalterW. Skeat, EETS ES  )Lon-
don: Tr
bner, *, p. )lines …*.
. John Gower,
e Complete Works of John Gower
e French Works
, ed.G.C. Macau-
lay )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, p. )
Balade
, , line *.
. El fu si cointe et si tifee, / El resembloit deesse ou feeŽ; see
Le Roman de la rose
, ed.
Daniel Poirion )Paris: Garnier- Flammarion, *, p. )lines …*. Cf.
e Romaunt of
the Rose
, lines … )Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, p.*. 
e goddesses who vie for the judg-
ment of Paris in
e Seege or Batayle of Troye,
ed. Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, EETS OS 
)London: Oxford University Press, *, p., are described as "
oure ladies of eluene landŽ
)line *.
. Cf. Gowers description of Medea, In sondri wise hir forme changeth, / Sche semeth
faie and no womman,Ž in John Gower,
e En glish Works of John Gower
, ed.G.C. Macaulay,
 vols., EETS ES ,  )London: Oxford University Press, , *, : )
Confessio Amantis
bk. , line *.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Le Go"
Time, Work, & Culture
, p..
. R.W. Southern, Between Heaven and Hell: Review of Jacques le Go"
La Naissance
du Purgatoire

Times Literary Supplement
, June, , p.. Southern would date this shift
rather earlier than Le Go"
. [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :bF*,  )p. bG*, 
)p.bH*.
.
tienne de Bourbon says that this peasant portaret facem lignorum ad lunumŽ [would
have carried a bundle of wood to the moon]; see
Anecdotes historiques
légendes, et apologues tirés
du recueil inédit dÉtienne de Bourbon
, ed.A. Lecoy de la Marche, Soci
de lhistoire de France
)Paris: Renouard, *, p.. A popu lar verse quoted by Alexander Neckham may help explain
this:
Rusticus in luna, quem sarcina deprimit una, / Monstrat per spinas nulli prodesse rapinas
 e man in the moon with his burden of wood, / learns from its prickles that thievings no good]; see
Neckam,
De Naturis rerum
, ed. 
omas Wright )London: Longman, *, p..
. [
tienne de Bourbon],
Anecdotes historiques,
ed. de la Marche, pp., , .
. Filotas,
Pagan Survivals
, p..
. Le Go"
Limaginaire médiéval
, pp., .
. Le Go"
Limaginaire médiéval
, p..
. See Schmitt, Superstitions,Ž pp.….
. See MichaelD. Bailey,
Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies: 
e Bound aries of Superstition
in Late Medieval Eu rope
)Ithaca,N.Y.: Cornell University Press, *.
. [Burchard of Worms],
Bussordnungen
, ed. Wasserschleben, p. )no. *. See also
Patrologia Latina
, :C.
.
Malleus male carum
, ed. and trans. ChristopherS. Mackay,  vols. )Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, *, : ):*.
. Wade,
Fairies in Medieval Romance
, pp.….
. DavidR. Carlson,
Chaucers Jobs
)New York: Palgrave Macmillan, *.
.
Partonopeu de Blois
, ed. Olivier Collet and Pierre- Marie Joris )[Paris]: Livre de poche,
*, p. )lines …*; [
Partonope of Blois
],
e Middle En glish Versions of Partonope of
Blois
, ed.A. Trampe B
dtker, EETS ES  )London: Kegan Paul, *, p. )lines …
*.
.
e Elucidation: A Prologue to the Conte del Graal
, ed. Albert Wilder 
ompson )New
York: Institute of French Studies, *, pp.….
. Cf. Alan Fletchers analy sis of the competing discourses in
Sir Orfeo
in 
Sir Orfeo
and
the Flight from the Enchanters,Ž
udies in the Age of Chaucer
 )*:….
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, pp.….
. Chaucer,
Riverside Chaucer
, pp.….D.W. Robertsons two explanations )folk-
loric and pastoral* for the dev ils wearing green )Why the Devil Wears Green,Ž
Modern Lan-
guage Notes
 []:…* do not strike me as being incommensurable.
. Przemyslaw Mroczkowski, Incubi and Friars,Ž
Kwartalnik Neo lologiczny
 )*:…
. 
ere is a better text in StephenL. Forte, A Cambridge Dominican Collector of Exempla
in the 
irteenth Century,Ž
Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum
 )*: )no. *.
. Gobi,
Scala Coeli,
ed. Polo de Beaulieu, pp.… )no. *.
.
Liber exemplorum ad usum praedicantium saeculo XIII
, ed.A.G. Little )Aberdeen: Typis
academicis, *, pp.…. I am grateful to Alan Fletcher for bringing this passage to my
attention.
. See [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :bB"
.*: Cujus modi
sunt isti spiritus per modum exercitus apparentes?
 
\t\b \t �\b …
Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs
, ed. Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, and John Lindow, 
vols. )Oxford: Oxford University Press, *, :.
. Le Go"
Pour un autre moyen
âge
, p.. See also Jean- Claude Schmitt, Les Supersti-
tions, Ž in
Histoire de la France religieuse, \b
, ed. Jacques Le Go"
and Ren
mond )Paris:
Seuil, *, pp.….
. JanR. Veenstra,
Magic and Divination at the Courts of Burgundy and France
)New York:
Brill, *, pp.,  n. For a pos si ble reading of the
Bal des suvages
as a 2
ctive recovery
of wildness that actually enhances courtly status,Ž see Susan Crane,
e Per for mance of Self:
Ritual, Clothing, and Identity During the Hundred Years War
)Philadelphia: University of Penn-
sylvania Press, *, pp.….
. WilliamR. Jones, Po liti cal Uses of Sorcery in Medieval Eu rope,Ž
Historian

)*:….
. Angela Bourke,
e Burning of Bridget Cleary
)New York: Penguin, *. See also
Simon Young, Some Notes on Irish Fairy Changelings in Nineteenth- Century Newspapers,Ž
Béascna
 )*:….
. Augustine,
City of God
, :… ):*.
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, p..
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Traductions
Françaises des Otia Imperialia,
ed. Pignatelli and
Gerner, pp., .
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.….
. A pos si ble, though perhaps tendentious, translation of
antiquorum
 people of old might
be the ancient ones; [William of Auvergne]
, De Universo
, II. iii,  ) ed., :a*, tells us
that in Spain the wild horde was known as the
exercitus antiquus,
the ancient army.
. He had been involved in the surrender of Saint- Maur )*, Moncontour, Soubise
)*, Chiz
, and Niort )* to du Guesclin; see Fowler,
Medieval Mercenaries
, :….
.
La chanson de Bertrand Du Guesclin de Cuvelier
, ed. Jean- Claude Faucon,  vols. )Tou-
louse: Editions universitaires du Sud, ca.*, :; the later MS variant
cestoit destinee
)for
cestoit une fee
* implies that she had merely learned from the fairies )see :*.
. Antoine de la Sale,
Paradis de la Reine Sibylle,
ed. Desonay, p..
.
Procès en nullité
, ed. Duparc, :….
. 
ere is no sign of a Peter Gravier in Georges Poulls
Le Château et les seigneurs de
Bourlément, \b\b\n\f…\b\n\b\t
)Corbeil- Essonnes: private ed., *, nor of a woman called F
eŽ; an
early thirteenth- century Sieur de Bourl
mont, Pierre II, had married someone called Felicit
however, and his son Jo"
rois wife was called Sibylle.
. Madeleine Jeay, Clercs et paysans,Ž p. , calls it an avatar des l
gendes m
sini-
nnes,Ž an example of le bricolage culturelŽ at work.
Procès en nullité
, ed. Duparc, :, , , .
. See Robert Bartlett,
Eng land Under the Norman and Angevin Kings, \b \r…\b\t\t\r
)Ox-
ford: Clarendon Press, *, p..
. Ferlampin- Acher,
 \t\b \t �\b …

. Roger Sherman Loomis, Breton Folklore and Arthurian Romance,Ž
Comparative
Lit er a ture
 )*:.
. Denique hoc vasculum materiae incognitae, coloris insoliti, et formae inustitatae
Henrico se niori Anglorum regi pro magno munere oblatum est, ac deinde fratri reginae, Da-
vidi scilicet regi Scottorum contraditum annis plurimis in thesauris Scotiae servatum est; et
ante annos aliquot, sicut veraci relatione cognovimus, Henrico secundo illud aspicere cupi-
enti a rege Scottorum Willelmo resignatum estŽ; see William of Newburgh,
e History of
En glish A airs, Bk I
, ed. and trans.P.G. Walsh andM.J. Kennedy )Warminster: Aris Phil-
lips, *, pp.… ):*.
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, pp.….
. See Nancy Partner,
Serious Entertainments: 
e Writing of History in Twelfth- Century
Eng land
)Chicago: University of Chicago Press, *, pp.….
. William of Newburgh,
History of En glish A airs,
ed. Walsh and Kennedy, pp.…
Proemium
. Map,
De nugis curialium,
ed. James, pp.….
. Antoine de la Sale,
Le Paradis de la Reine Sibylle
, ed. Fernand Desonay )Paris: Droz,
*, p. )the account of the German knights visit is on pp.…*.
. For a folklorists comparison of the two sets of belief, see PeterM. Rojcewicz, Be-
tween One Eye Blink and the Next: Fairies, UFOs and the Prob lems of Knowledge,Ž in
Good People: New Folklore Essays
, ed. Peter Narv
ez ); Lexington: University Press of
Kentucky, *, pp.…. For an excellent account of modern alien beliefs, see SusanA.
Clancy,
Abducted: How People Come to Believe 
ey Were Kidnapped by Aliens
)Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, *. James Wade prints a remarkable fourteenth- century
fairy parallel in Abduction, Surgery, Madness.Ž
. Purkiss,
At the Bottom of the Garden
, p. )cf. pp.…*.
(\t
. Cf. JohnH. Arnold,
Belief and Unbelief in Medieval Eu rope
)London: Hodder, *,
pp.….
. Gurevich,
Medieval Pop u lar Culture
, p.xv.
. Peter Burke,
Pop u lar Culture in Early Modern Eu rope
, rev. ed. )Aldershot: Scolar Press,
*, pp.….
. Le Go"
, for one, seems prepared to accept such a model for the early Middle Ages:
although there were great di"
erences in degree in the culture of clerics, it was a culture of a
single kind, and the impor tant division was between clerics and laymenŽ; see Jacques Le Go"
Time, Work, & Culture in the Middle Ages
, trans. Arthur Goldhammer ); Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, *, p..
. John Van Engen, 
e Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical Prob lem,Ž
Amer-
ican Historical Review
 )*:.
. See Jean- Claude Schmitts response to Van Engen in
 
\t\b \t �\b …
.
Le Roman de Rou
, ed.A.J. Holden,  vols., Soci
des anciens textes fran
ais )Paris:
Firmin Didot, …*. Although the forms of
soloir
at lines  and are in the pres ent
tense, Holden suggests that they carry a past sense; see note in :…, line .
. Chr
tien de Troyes,
Yvain (le Chevalier au lion)
, ed.T.B.W. Reid )Manchester:
Manchester University Press, *, p..
. Huon de M
ri,
Le Torneiment Anticrist
, ed. MargaretO. Bender, Romance Mono-
graphs,  )Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, *, lines … )pp.…*, lines …
 )p.*.
. [Jacques de Vitry],
Libri duo, quorum prior Orientalis, sive Hierosolymitanae: Alter, Oc-
cientalis Historiae nomine inscribitur
)Douai: Balthazar Beller, *, pp., .
. 
is reference is to Henry of Marsburg; in his youth he had been on crusade, and he
later accompanied Louis IX to the Holy Land, dying on the return journey in . See ODaniel,
First Disciples
, pp.….
. 
is is a reference to John of Wildeshausen; See ODaniel,
First Disciples
, pp.….
. Fratrem Henricum 
eutonicum, quondam Lectorem fratrum Predicatorum in Co-
lonia, virum in omni scientia cum sanctitate conspicuum, de quo superius fecimus mentio-
nem, attestantibus fratribus, narrantem quod subjungo audivi. Cum quidam frater nobilis
genere et rebus pollens, de Britannie partibus, ordinem Predicatorum intrasset, apud Lugdu-
num Galliae cum fratribus morabatur; appropinquante autem tempore professionis suae peti-
vit a priore suo redire ad terram suam, ut disponeret de rebus suis; et annuit prior, cum eoque
iter arripuit. Cumque venissent in deserta Britannie, dixit frater novitius priori suo: Vultis vi-
dere antiquum illud Britannie miraculum? Et prior: Quod est illud? Et frater illum ducens
ad fontem lucidissimum, super quem lapis, instar altaris, in columnis marmoreis locabatur,
aquam protinus superfudit. Nec mora, contenebrato celo, coeperunt nubes concurrere, mugire
tonitrua, imbres ruere, fulgura coruscare, statimque tanta inundatio facta est, ut circa locum ad
leucam unam tota terra obrui videretur. Quod ut vidit prior miratus est, et audiente dicto
fratre Henrico, magistro ordinis beate memorie, fratri Joanni Epicopo, etaliis pluribus fratris
enarravit. Hoc idem audivi a patre meo ante annos quadraginta, qui illis in partibus sub rege
Richardo Angliae militavit. Haec cum dictus frater Henricus mihi et multis aliis recitaret,
quaesivi vnde ista 2
eri potuissent? Et respondit, quod arte magica, ignota modo hominibus, et
ministerio demonum, qui ad tempestates et pluvias aera possunt impellere et concitare cum
volunt, occulto tamen Dei iudicio permittenteŽ )pp.…*.
. Geo"
rey Chaucer,
e Riverside Chaucer
, ed. LarryD. Benson etal. )Boston: Hough-
ton Mi=
in, *, p..
.
En glish Wycli
te Sermons, I
, ed. Anne Hudson )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *,
p..
. Nicholas Orme, An En glish Grammar School ca. : Latin Exercises from Exeter
)Caius College MS /, Folios v…v*,Ž
Traditio
 )*: )C*.
. Item, joignant la dicte fontayne y a une grosse pierre que on nomme le perron de Bel-
lenton, et toutes les foiz que le seigneur de Monfort vient
la dicte fontayne et de leau dicelle
arouse et moulle le dit perron, quelque challeur temps assur
de pluye, quelque part que soit le
vent et que chacun pourroit dire que le temps ne seroit aucunement dispos
pluye, tantost et
en peu despace aucunes foiz plus tost que le dit seigneur ne aura peu recoupvrez son chasteau
de Comper, aultres foiz tost plus tart, et que que soit ains que soit le 2 n dicelui jour, pleut ou
pays habundaument que la terre et les biens estans en ycelle en son arousez et moult leur
prou$
teŽ; see
Cartulaire de lAbbaye de Redon en Bretagne
, ed. Aur
lien de Courson )Paris:
Imprimerie imp
riale, *, p. ccclxxxvi.
 \t\b \t �\b …

.
Procès en nullité
de la condamnation de Jeanne dArc
, ed. Pierre Duparc,  vols.
)Paris: Soci
de lhistoire de France, …*, :…. On this episode, see particu-
larly Madeleine Jeay, Clercs et paysans au XV
cle: Une relecture de l
pisode de larbre
au f
es dans les proc
s de Jeanne dArc,Ž in
Normes et pouvoir
la  n du moyen
âge
, ed.
Marie- Claude D
prez- Masson )Montreal: Editions CERES, *, pp.…; Karen
Sullivan,
e Interrogation of Joan of Arc
)Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, *,
pp.….
.
Procès de Condamnation de Jeanne dArc
, ed. Pierre Tisset and Yvonne Lanhers,  vols.
)Paris: Soci
de lhistoire de France, …*, :… [Latin] and:… [French].
. Gui,
Manuel,
ed. Mollat, :.
. 
e En glish translation )ca. * is taken from Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald,
p.. For the French, see Jean dArras,
Mélusine, ou la noble histoire de Lusignan
, ed. Jean- Jacques
Vicensini )Paris: Librairie g
rale Fran
aise, *, p..
. See Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, pp.…; the refer-
ence is to Ps. : [:]:
Iudicia Dei abbissus multa
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Les Traductions Françaises des Otia Imperialia
, ed. Cinzia Pignatelli
and Dominique Gerner )Geneva: Droz, *.
. L
opold Delisle,
Recherches sur la librairie de Charles V, Pt. II
)Paris: Champion, *,
p.
)no. *. See also Le Go"
Pour un autre moyen
âge
, p.n.
. Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald, pp.…; Jean dArras,
Mélusine,
ed. Vicensini,
pp.….
. Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald, p.; Jean dArras,
Mélusine,
ed. Vicensini,
p..
. [Coudrette],
e Romans of Partenay, or of Lusignen, Other wise Known as the Tale of
Melusine
, ed. WalterW. Skeat, EETS OS  )London: Kegan Paul, *, p. )line *;
[Coudrette],
Le roman de Mélusine, ou histoire de Lusignan
, ed. Eleanor Roach )Paris: Klincks-
ieck, *, p. )lines …*.
. Jean dArras,
Melusine,
ed. Donald, p..
. Kenneth Fowler,
Medieval Mercenaries
,  vol. )Oxford: Blackwell, … *, :, …
, ….
. See Fran
oise Lehoux,
Jean de France, duc de Berri, sa vie, son action politique (\b\n…
\b\n\b)
,  vols. )Paris:A. etJ. Picard, …*, :n )for the capture of Cresswell*,  )for
the surrender of Lusignan*.
. Interestingly, Guillaume Larchev
que, Lord of Parthenay, patron of Coudrettes ver-
sion of
Mélusine
, was involved in the ransom negotiations; see Lehoux,
Jean de France, duc de
Berri,
:.
. Jean dArras,
Mélusine,
ed. Vicensini, pp.….
. 
is Evan )Yvain de GallesŽ* seems to have been 2
ghting on the French side; see Don-
alds note in Jean dArras,
Melusine
, ed. Donald, p..
.
Li romans de Claris et Laris
, ed. Johann Alton )T
bingen: Litterarischer Verein in Stutt-
gart, *, pp.….
. Je"
Rider, 
e Other Worlds of Romance,Ž in
e Cambridge Companion to Medi-
eval Romance
, ed. RobertaL. Kruger )Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, p..
. Cooper,
En glish Romance in Time
, p..
. ArthurC.L. Brown, A Note on the
Nugae
ofG.H. Geroulds King Arthur and
Politics, Ž
 )*:.
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Cf.E.P. 
ompson,
Whigs and Hunters: 
e Origin of the Black Act
)New York: Pan-
theon Books, *; and Peter Sahlins,
Forest Rites: 
e War of the Demoiselles in Nineteenth-
Century France
)Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, *.
. Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia imperialia,
ed. Banks and Binns, p..
. Caesarii Heisterbacensis,
Dialogus Miraculorum
, ed. Joseph Strange,  vols. )Cologne:
Heberle, , *, :…. See Dyan Elliott,
Fallen Bodies: Pollution, Sexuality, and Demon-
ology in the Middle Ages
)Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, *, p..
. 
omas Chestre,
Sir Launfal
, ed.A.J. Bliss )London: Nelson, *, lines …,
…, …, etc.
. M. Dando, Les anges neutres,Ž
Cahiers détudes Cathares
 )*:.
. W.P. Ker, 
e Craven Angels,Ž
Modern Language Review
 )*:…; Lewis,
Dis-
carded Image
, pp.…; Wade,
Fairies in Medieval Romance
, pp.….
.
Middle En glish Religious Pros
e, ed. NormanF. Blake )London: Edward Arnold, *,
pp.….
.
e South En glish Legendary
, ed. Charlotte DEvelyn and AnnaJ. Mill,  vols., EETS
OS , ,  )London: Oxford University Press, , *, :….
. Jean dArras,
Melusine
, ed.A.K. Donald, EETS ES  )London: Kegan Paul, *,
p..
. Dando, Anges neutres,Ž pp.…, ….
omist understanding of this concept, see John Freccero, Dante and the Neu-
tral Angels,Ž
Romanic Review
 )*:….
. Walter Map,
De nugis curialium: Courtiers Tri es
, ed. and trans.M.R. James,
rev.C.N.L. Brooke andR.A.B. Mynors )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, p..
. Jean- Patrice Boudet, Les Condamnation de la magie
Paris en ,Ž
Revue Mabil-
lon
, n.s. / )…*: )no. *.
.
Esclarmonde, Clarisse et Florent, Yde et Olive: Drei Fortsetzungen der Chanson von Huon
de Bordeaux
, ed. Max Schweigel )Marburg: Elwert, *, pp.….
.
e Boke of Duke Huon of Burdeux
, ed.S.L. Lee,  vols., EETS OS , , , 
)London: Tr
bner, …*, :.
. Harf- Lancner,
Fées au moyen
âge
, p..
.  e same motif appears in
Les Merveilles de Rigomer
and in
Ogier le Danois
; see Harf-
Lancner,
Fées au moyen
âge
, pp.….
.
omas of Erceldoune,
ed. Nixon, : )
ornton MS*.
. For a similar scene, see Gerald of Wales,
Itinerarium Kambriae
):*, in [Gerald of
Wales],
raldi Cambrensis Opera
, ed.J.S. Brewer, JamesF. Dimock, and GeorgeF. Warner,
 vols., Rolls Series  )London: HMSO, …*, :.
.
e En glish and Scottish Pop u lar Ballads
, ed. Francis James Child,  vols., nd. corr.
ed., ed. MarkF. Heiman and Laura Saxton Heiman )…; North2
eld, Minn.: Loomis
House Press, …*, no. A, sts. ….
.
Sidrak and Bokkus: A Parallel- Text Edition
, ed.T.L. Burton, EETS ,  )Oxford:
Oxford University Press, , *, : )lines …*. 
is is an addition to the French
original:
Sydrac le philosophe: Le livre de la fontaine de toutes sciences
, ed. Ernstpeter Ruhe
)Wiesbaden: Dr.Ludwig Reichert Verlag, *, p. )para. *.
. Le Go"
Imaginaire médiéval
, p..
. Sir John Mandev ille,
Mandev illes Travels
, ed.M.C. Seymour )Oxford: Clarendon
Press, *, p. )chap.*.
 \t\b \t �\b …

. A similar case has been made for the so- called heresies of the Cathars and the
Waldensians; see Moore,
Formation of a Persecuting Society
, pp.…. Also, Sonia Maura
Barillari,
Protostoria della Strega. Le Fonti Medievali Latine e Romanze
)Aicurzio: Castel Ne-
grino, *, pp.….
. Conrad of Marburgs own investigations, in fact, led him to construct what Lambert
calls an arti2
cial heresy, that of the LuciferiansŽ )
e Cathars
, p.*; its overheated fantasies
are re1 ected in the decretal
Vox in Rama
issued by Gregory IX in  )see Edward Peters,
Magician, the Witch, and the Law
[Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ],
pp.…*.
. See
Middle En glish Debate Poetry,
ed. JohnW. Conlee )East Lansing, Mich.: Col-
leagues Press, *, pp.….
. Carleton Brown, in 
e Vernon Disputisoun bytwene a Christenmon and a Jew,Ž
Modern Language Notes
 )*:…, argues for 
omas of Cantimpr
s direct in1
uence
on the poem.
. See Roseanna Cross,  Heterochronia in 
omas of Erceldoune, Guingamor, 
e Tale
of King Herla, and the Story of Meriadoc, King of Cambria,Ž
Neophilologus
 )*:….
. Cf. Maria Panzonas testimony in Ginzburg,
Ecstacies
, p..
.
e Register of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, \b\n…\b\r, III
, ed. Christopher
Harper- Bill )Woodbridge: Boydell Brewer, *, p. )no. *.
. John Bromyard,
Summa Predicantium
,  vols. )Venice, *, :b )S. XI. ; s.v. sor-
tilegiumŽ*.
. Annabel Gregory,
Rye Spirits: Faith, Faction, and Fairies in a Seventeenth- Century En-
glish Town
)London: Hedge Press, *, p..
.
Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse,
ed. Raby, pp.… )no. *.
. John Capgrave,
e Life of Saint Katherine
, ed. KarenA. Winstead )Kalamazoo, Mich.:
Medieval Institute Publications, *.
. See Matt. :…; Luke :…; Mark :….
. Peter Idley
Peter Idleys Instructions to His Son
, ed. Charlotte DEvelyn )Boston: Mod-
ern Language Association of Amer i ca, *, p. )lines …*.
.
e En glish Register of Godstow Nunnery
, ed. Andrew Clark )London: Early En glish
Text Society, *, p..
. Bromyard,
Summa Predicantium
)*, : )S. XI.  )s.v. sortilegiumŽ*.
. Kew, National Archives, KB /, m. )Rex, m. *. For an En glish translation of
the whole entry, see AlexanderL. Kau"
man,
e Historical Lit er a ture of the Jack Cade Rebel-
lion
)Farnham: Ashgate, *, pp.…; as in other references to this rec ord,
de  eyre
should
be rendered as of Fairyland, not of the fairies.
.
Six Town Chronicles of Eng land
, ed. Ralph Flenley )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *,
p..
.
Kent Rec ords: Documents Illustrative of Medieval Kentish Society
, ed.F.R.H. Du Bou-
lay )Ashford: Kent Archaeological Society, *, p..
. MichaelJ. Bennett, Henry VII and the Northern Rising of ,Ž
En glish Historical
Review
 )*:.
.
Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century
, pts.  and, ed. Norman Davis )Ox-
ford: Clarendon Press, , *; pt. , ed. Richard Beadle and Colin Richmond, EETS SS
 )Oxford: Oxford University Press, *, :.
. I am grateful to Simon Young for drawing my attention to both the Paston reference
and the Derbyshire place- name.
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. Paris,B.M. MS Latin , f. a )col. *. A condensed version of the same story is
told in the
Golden Legend (Jacobi a Voragine Legenda aurea)
, ed. 
eodor Graesse, nd ed.
)Leipzig: Arnold, *, p. )chap.*. For an account of similar fairy gatherings as
phan-
tasmata
, see the
Fasciculus Morum,
ed. Wenzel, pp.….
. Augustine,
City of God
, :… ):*.
. Apparently Conrad of Marburg, the notorious German inquisitor, who was murdered
in . See Malcolm Lambert,
e Cathars
)Oxford: Blackwell, *, pp.….
. Conrad of H
xter, or Conrad of Germany; VictorF. ODaniel,
e First Disciples of
Saint Dominic
)New York: Pustet, *, pp.…. He was a Doctor of Canon Law and the
author of a confessional manual, the
Summula Magistri Conradi
; see
Trois sommes de pénitence
de la première moitié du XIIIe siècle
, ed. Jean- Pierre Renard )Louvain- la- Neuve: Centre Cerfaux-
Lefort, *.
. Anno ab incarnatione dominiM.CC.XXXI. predicante in 
eutonia magistro Con-
rado contra hereticos et ab eisdem felici morte perempto, hereticus quidam„ut per fratrem
Conradum, Provincialem fratrum predicatorum per 
eutoniam, ante annos multos acccepi„
seductus a demonibus fratrem quemdam ordini
predicatorum ad heresim invitabat. Quem
cum videret instantissime renitentem, dixit fratri: Pertinax valde es in 2
de tua nec tamen de
hac, nisi per scripta quedam, aliquod certius inspexisti. Credere autem si velles dictis meis Chris-
tum tibi et matrem eius ac sanctos oculata 2
de monstrarem. Mox ille illusionem demonum
 \t\b \t �\b …

men may be )wood* fairies], he writes, Aliquando sunt Pigmei, quod animal secundum Al-
bertus in De Animalibus, vbi prius est multum simile homini, quia erecte incedit, manibus
vtitur ad opera quaedam, loquitur lingua. Et tamen simpliciter plus est bestia quam homo:
licet sit nobilius animalium infra hominem. Aliquando etiam daemones in siluis apparent esse
homines vel feminae, vt decipiant incautoresŽ [Sometimes they are Pigmies, which, according
to Albertus Magnus in
De Animalibus,
is a kind of animal much like a man, because it walks
upright, uses its hands for certain tasks, and employs language; and yet it is clearly more beast
than man, although more noble than the other animals below man. Also sometimes they are
demons who appear to be men or women in the woods, in order to deceive the unwary]; see
[John Nider],
Praeceptorium
)Douai: Bogarde, *, pp.… )I.xi.*. Albertus, in [Albertus
Magnus],
De animalibus
, ed. Hermann Stadler,  vols., Lib. II, tract. , cap. )M
nster:
Aschendor"
sache, , *, :, describes the capture of a pair of them in his own day; he
says that the male was conspicuously lecherous. See also [William of Auvergne],
De Universo
II. iii, , in
Guillielmi Alverni Opera Omnia
,  vols. )Paris: Pralard, *,:bD.
. Konrad Murer, Die H
lle auf Island,Ž
Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde
)*:….
. C.S. Lewis,
e Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Re nais sance Lit er a-
)Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, pp.….
. For instance, in the Anglo- Saxon remedy, wi
lfcynne nihtgengan
am man-
num
e deofel mid h
Ž [against elfkind and night- travelers, and for those who have inter-
course with the dev il]; see
Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early Eng land
, ed. 
omas
Oswald Cocayne,  vols. )London: Longman, Green, *, : )no. *.
.
Patrologia Latina
, :A…D. See Yves Le F
vre,
LElucidarium et les Lucidaires:
Contribution, par lhistoire dun texte,
lhistoire des croyances religieuses en France au moyen
âge
)Paris:E. de Boccard, *; Aron Gurevich,
Medieval Pop u lar Culture: Prob lems of Belief
and Perception
, trans. JanosM. Bak and PaulA. Hollings worth )Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press, *, pp.… )chap.*.
. Valerie Flint, Heinricus of Augsberg and Honorius Augustodunensis: Are 
ey the
Same Person?Ž
Revue Bénédictine
 )*:….
. [Burchard of Worms],
Die Bussordnungen der abendländischen Kirche
, ed.F.W.H.
Wasserschleben )Halle: Graeger, *, p. )cap.*. See also
Patrologia Latina
, :C.
. London:B.L., MS Cotton FaustinaA. VII, f. a. 
omas Wright attributes this pas-
sage to Bartholomew of Exeter )see
Reliquiae Antiquae
, ed. 
omas Wright andJ.O. Halli-
well,  vols. [London: Pickering, , ], :*, but it is evidently a later )thirteenth- century*
interpolation; see Adrian Morey,
Bartholomew of Exeter: Bishop and Canonist
)Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, *, p.. For Burchards original, see [Burchard of Worms],
Bus-
sordnungen
, ed. Wasserschleen, p. )cap.*;
Patrologia Latina
, :C.
. [
Second Lucidaire
], ed. Monika T
rk, in
ucidaire de grant sapientieŽ: Untersuchung
nd Edition der altfranzösischen
Übersetzung \b des ElucidariumŽ von Honorius Augustodunen-
s, ed. Monika T
rk )T
bingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, *. 
is redaction was itself
augmented and revised more than once in the late middle ages; see Doris Ruhe,
Gelehrtes
Wissen
, Sections…, pp.….
.
e Late Middle En glish
Lucydarye, ed. Stephen Morrison )Turnhout: Brepols, *,
p.. 
is is Andrew Chertseys translation )printed twice by Wynkyn de Worde in ca. 
and* of a  French incunabulum of the
Second lucidaire
; see Ernstpeter Ruhe,
Elucidar-
ium und Lucidaires: Zur Rezeption des Werks von Honorius Augustodunensis in der Romania und
in Eng land
)Wiesbaden:L. Reichert, *, p..
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. See particularly Jacques Le Go"
Limaginaire médiéval: Essais
)Paris: Gallimard,
*; Jacques Le Go"
Pour un autre moyen
âge
)Paris: Gallimard, *; and Jean- Claude
Schmitt,
Le saint Lévrier: Guinefort, guérisseur denfants depuis le XIIIe siècle
)Paris: Flammarion,
*.
. Keith 
omas,
Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Pop u lar Beliefs in Sixteenth
and Seventeenth Century Eng land
)London: Weidenfeld Nicolson, *; Ronald Hutton,
Rise and Fall of Merry Eng land: 
e Ritual Year, \b\n…\b 
)Oxford: Oxford University Press,
*; Stephen Wilson,
e Magical Universe: Everyday Ritual and Magic in Pre- modern Eu rope
)London: Hambledon and London, *; Walter Stephens,
Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex,
and the Crisis of Belief
)Chicago: University of Chicago Press, *; CarlS. Watkins,
History
and the Super natu ral in Medieval Eng land
)Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *;
Robert Bartlett,
e Natu ral and the Super natu ral in the Middle Ages
)Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, *; Euan Cameron,
Enchanted Eu rope: Superstition, Reason, and Religion,
\b\t\r…\b \r
)Oxford: Oxford University Press, *; Catherine Rider,
Magic and Religion in Me-
dieval Eng land
)London: Reaktion Books, *.
. Michelle Sweeney,
Magic in Medieval Romance from Chrétien de Troyes to Geo rey Chau-
cer
)Dublin: Four Courts Press, *, p..
. One French exception is Ferlampin- Acher,
trare. Utrique sunt nobis invisibiles, nisi cum ipsi sponte volunt apparere; sunt tamen quorundam
hominum oculi natura sua et malo fato ita Lyncei, ut nunquam possint ulla spectra praesentia
visum eorum subterfugere. Utriusque norunt mille technas et stratagemata in2 nita, quibus
homines miseris exagitant modis. Sed posteriores et statura et vestitu et victu quoque persi-
mili cum vicinis hominibus uti credentur et coitu quoque humano magnopere delectari. Nec
desunt exempla aliquot nebulonum, qui foeminas subterraneas dicuntur impraegnasse et sta-
tis temporibus, vel quotiescunque libuerit, eas accessisse. Et vicissim compressae sunt nos-
trates foeminae ab istis terrigenis raptique multoties innocentes pueri, puellae et utriusque
sexus juvenes et adolescentes, quorum nonnulli restituti sunt salvi et illaesi post dies aliquot et
 \t\b \t �\b …

.  e strongest advocate of this position, derived from Arthurian romance, was Roger
Sherman Loomis, but it continues to be widely accepted, even outside the tradition of Anglo-
phone scholarship )Jacques Le Go"
entertains a version of it*. For a recent instance, see Carolyne
Larrington, 
e Fairy Mistress in Medieval Literary Fantasy,Ž in
Writing and Fantasy
, ed. Ceri
Sullivan and Barbara White )London: Longman, *, pp.…, esp. pp.….
. Valdimar 
. Hafstein, 
e Elves Point of View: Cultural Identity in Con temporary
Elf- Tradition,Ž
Fa bula
 )*:.
. Alberto Cirese, Gramscis Observations on Folklore,Ž in
Approaches to Gramsci
, ed.
Anne Slowstack Sassoon )London: Writers and Readers, *, pp.….
. StephenO. Gencarella, Gramsci, Good Sense, and Critical Folklore Studies,Ž
Jour-
nal of Folklore Research
 )*:….
. See KateA.F. Crehan,
Gramsci, Culture and Anthropology
)Berkeley: University of
California Press, *, pp.….
. Purkiss,
At the Bottom of the Garden
, p..
. R.I. Moore,
e Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance in Western
Eu rope, \f\r…\b\t\r
, nd ed. ); Oxford: Blackwell, *.
(\t
. C.S. Lewis, De Audiendis Poetis,Ž in
Studies in Medieval and Re nais sance Lit er a ture
collected by Walter Hooper )Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, *, p..
. Francis Dubost,
Aspects fantastiques de la littérature narrative médiévale, XIIème… XIIIème
siècles: Lautre, lailleurs, lautrefois
,  vols. )Geneva: Slatkine, *, :. Dubost draws a cru-
cial distinction between the fantastic and the marvelous, but this generalization applies to both.
. Helen Cooper,
e En glish Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geo rey of
Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare
)Oxford: Oxford University Press, *; Corinne
Saunders,
Magic and the Super natu ral in Medieval En glish Romance
)Woodbridge:D.S. Brewer,
*; James Wade,
Fairies in Medieval Romance
)New York: Palgrave Macmillan, *.
. See, for example, Daniel Poirion,
Le merveilleux dans la littérature française du moyen
âge
)Paris: Presses universitaires de France, *; Laurence Harf- Lancner,
Les fées au moyen
âge: Morgane et Mélusine; la naissance des fées
)Geneva: Slatkine, *; Dubost,
Aspects fantas-
)*; Claude Lecouteux,
Au- delà
du merveilleux: Des croyances du moyen
âge
)Paris:
Presses de lUniversit
de Paris- Sorbonne, *; Jean- Ren
Valette,
La poétique du merveilleux
dans le Lancelot en prose
)Paris: Champion, *; Christine Ferlampin- Acher,
 
\t\b \t �\b …
. See the chapter 
De neptunis qui homines deludunt
Neptunes Which Delude Human
Beings, Ž in Gervase of Tilbury,
Otia imperialia: Recreation for an Emperor
, ed. and trans.S.E.
Banks andJ.W. Binns )Oxford: Clarendon Press, *, : )pp.…*.
. 
e suggestion that the En glish expression What the Deuce9 derives from it )cf.A.L.
Mayhew, 
e Etymology of Deuce: Interjectional and Imprecatory,Ž
Acad emy,
January
:…* looks like a folk etymology; it seems more likely to come from dicing. For other
pos si ble re1
exes, see Claude Lecouteux,
Les Nains et les elfes
)Paris: Imago, *, p..
.
Early Modern Witches: Witchcraft Cases in Con temporary Writing,
ed. Marion Gibson
)London: Routledge, *, p..
. James Wade, Abduction, Surgery, Madness: An Account of a Little Red Man in
omas Walsinghams
Chronica Maiora

Medium Aevum
 )*:….
. Katharine Mary Briggs,
e Fairies in En glish Tradition and Lit er a ture
)Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, *; Lecouteux,
Les Nains et les elfes
. W.B. Yeats gave the rather fustian term trooping fairiesŽ to such creatures; seeD.L.
Ashliman,
Fairy Lore: A Handbook
)Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, *, p..
. See Alaric Hall,
Elves in Anglo- Saxon Eng land: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and
Identity
)Woodbridge: Boydell Press, *.
.
Anglo- Norman Medicine II: Shorter Treatises
, ed. Tony Hunt )Cambridge:D.S. Brewer,
*, p..
. 
e word
fairy
in Middle En glish regularly refers to a place or region, the abode of
those creatures known to the French as
fées
)Latin,
fata
*:
fées
, in other words, live in
fée- erie
ough
fairy
, in1
uenced perhaps by the native word
ferli
, might also have been used as a syn-
onym for a marvel or won der and sometimes in a more generalized sense as magic, it does
not seem to have been used to denote an actual creature, a
fairy
, much before the middle of the
2 fteenth century. Nor, so far as I can see, is it used unambiguously as an adjective: in Middle
En glish one referred to a
fairy knight
much as we now refer to a New York policeman„ that
is to say,
fairy
in such phrases was primarily appositional, not adjectival.
. See RichardM. Dorson,
e British Folklorists: A History
)London: Routledge, *,
pp.….
. W.Y. Evans- Wentz,
e Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries
)London: Oxford University
Press, *, is prob ably the best- known advocate of this position.
.
Waltharius
and
Ruodlieb
, ed. and trans. DennisM. Katz )New York: Garland, *,
pp.… )lines …*.
. Gareth Morgan, Walther the Woodsprite,Ž
Medium Aevum
 )*:.
. Admittedly, Walter mocks Ekivrids Celtic tongueŽ [
celtica lingua
], but as the context
makes clear, it is a Celtic love of puns, not an obsession with fairies, that prompts his remark. In
any case
tica lingua
here seems more likely to be referring to Gaulish than to the direct pre de-
ces sor of any pres ent- day Celtic language; see David Dumville, Ekiurids Celtic Lingua: An
 \t\b
\t '(\t 
. Cambridge University Library, MS KK IV , "
. …ra. See Siegfried Wenzel,
Latin
Sermon Collections from Later Medieval Eng land: Orthodox Preaching in the Age of Wyclif
)Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, *, pp.…, … [B/a ].
. Sunt etalii qui dicunt se de nocte videre mulieres et puellas tripudiantes quos vocant
Eluysche folke
et credunt quod tales possunt tam homines quam mulieres transformare vel alios
pro se dimittere et illos secum adducere ad
Eluenlond
que omnia non sunt nisi fantastica et a
maligno spiritu illis donata, quare, quando diabolus anima
alicuius talis ad talia credendum
subiugavit, seipsum alium transformat, modo in formam angeli, modo in formam hominis,
modo mulieris, modo aliarum creaturarum, modo in coreis etaliis ludis et sic per incredulitatem
animarum tal
s [MS: talis ] miseri deluduntur. Hi vero qui in predictis credunt vel pertina-
citer defendunt et do
ent [MS: dolent] maxime cum veritatem audierint sunt in2
deles et
paganis deteriores et maledicti a domino et sancta ecclesia quarter in anno . . . sciant se a 2
de
christi apostatasse et suum baptismatum prevaricasse ac iram domini et eius inimicitiam in-
currisseŽ; see CUL MS KK IV  f. ra…rb.
Fasciculus Morum: A Fourteenth- Century Preachers Handbook
, ed. and trans. Siegfried
Wenzel )University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, *, pp.….
. Carlo Ginzburg,
Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches Sabbath
, trans. Raymond Rosen-
thal )New York: Pantheon Books, *, p..
. See Diane Purkiss,
At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hob goblins,
and Other Troublesome 
ings
)New York: New York University Press, *, p..
. Simon Young, Against Taxonomy: Fairy Families in Cornwall,Ž
Cornish Studies

)*:….
. [
omas of Cantimpr
],
omae Cantipratani, Bonum Universale de Apibus
, ed. George
Colvener )Douai: Balthazar Beller, *, : )pp.…*.
. Silvans and Pans, who are commonly called
incubi
, often misbehaved towards women
and . . . certain demons, termed
Dusii
by the Gauls, constantly attempt and perpetrate this
foulnessŽ; see Saint Augustine,
e City of God Against the Pagan
s, ed. and trans. WilliamM.
Greene etal.,  vols. )Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, …*, :… ):*.
. Another )possibly folk* etymology connects them with
nuit
[night]: gobelins, ce sont
petis dyablotz que len appelle en moult de pais netuins, cest a dire choses qui vont par nuitŽ;
see [
Second Lucidaire
], ed. Doris Ruhe, in
Gelehrtes Wissen, Aberglaube und pastorale Praxis im
französischen Spätmittelalter: Der Second Lucidaire und seine Rezeption, \b\n.…\b . Jahrhundert: Un-
tersuchung und Edition
)Wiesbaden: Reichert, *, p.B.
\r \b\t\b(\t 
All is bot gaist
s and elrich fantasyis,
Of browneis
and
of bogillis ful
is buke:
Owt on
ir wandrand sperit
, wow9Ž
with the familiar argument that Virgil was a virtuous pagan whose work an-
ticipates the Christian gospel, but in the prologue to book  )which includes
a council of the gods* he takes good care to dissociate himself from any taint
of paganism:
Lat Virgill hald hys mawme
to hym self;
I wirschip no
doll, stok, nor elf,

ocht furth I write so as myne auto
r dois.
William Dunbar might seem to come closest to the Chaucerian spirit in his
poem to Schir 
omas Norny,Ž a burlesque clearly modeled on
e Tale of
Sir 
opas
, but even here the butt of the joke is not actual fairy belief. Writ-
ten as an attack on an upstart court fool, the poem treats fairyland as a source
of insult rather than fantasy )as in 
e Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie,Ž
where his opponent had twice called Dunbar an elf*, so that instead of set-
ting out in quest of an elf queen, Norny turns out to be the progeny of one:
Quhais father was ane giand keyne„
His mother was ane farie queyne
Gottin be sossery.
No doubt the general attitude to fairies in Scotland acted as a constraint
on these Scottish Chaucerians,Ž but this in turn suggests that Chaucers En-
glish legacy might better be seen as both cause and e" ect of the very di"
er ent
atmosphere across the border. In other words, if Chaucer did indeed contrib-
ute to what I have called a rhe toric of amused skepticism, he could have done
so only in a cultural climate that was already receptive to it„ a climate that
was only partly in1
ected by confessional pressures.
As this book has repeat-
edly attempted to demonstrate, vernacular beliefs, whether in fairies or witches,
are best understood by seeking to examine them not only from above but also
from below.
\r \b\t\b(\t
which booke he verie much commended, and saide he did beleive the same as
well as he did the Bible, or woordes to the same e"
ect.Ž
e other half of Lewiss early modern anomaly is the woman burned at
Edinburgh in  for repairing with the fairies and the Queene of Elfame. Ž
We have already met this woman in the person of Bessie Dunlop, who, along
with a number of other witches tried in Scotland )such as Jonet Boyman,
Andro Man, and Isobel Gowdie*, furnishes some of our best evidence for early
Scottish fairy beliefs.
However, the fact that, in Levacks words, prosecu-
tions [for witchcraft] were much more intense in Scotland than in Eng landŽ
)p.*, taken along with Chaucers extensive in1
uence on sixteenth- century
Scottish writers, would seem to undermine the case I have been making for
the ameliorating e"
ects of his legacy on witch- hunting. Of course other factors
must be taken into account: torture was employed more extensively in Scot-
land than in Eng land; James VI )in strong contrast to Elizabeth I* was a pub-
lished demonologist who strongly disapproved of the kinde of Spirite called
the PhairieŽ; and a reading of Robert Kirks
\r \b\t\b(\t 
the Lord Chamberlains Men )Shakespeares com pany*, in the course of a tour
of southeast Eng land, visited the town of Rye.
We cannot know what they
performed there )it would be nice to think that they played
A Midsummer
Nights Dream
„ the dates certainly 2
t*, but in any event we do know that ten
years later a woman named Susan Swa"
er was accused of witchcraft in the
local court for counselling with, entertaining and feeding evil and wicked
spirits with the intention of acquiring trea sure,Ž along with her landlady, Anne
Taylor, who was charged with aiding and abetting her.

ese spirits, as the
subsequent interrogation made clear, were imagined as fairies. A few months
after Anne Taylor was 2
nally released from prison )in June *, the court of
chancery heard a far more bizarre case. In a suit between 
omas Rogers and
Sir Anthony Ashley and his brother, it was alleged that the Ashleys had hired
a man called Greene to swindle Rogers out of 2
ve or six pounds on the
pretense that Greene was able to arrange an advantageous marriage for him
with the queen of fairies.
C.J. Sissons argument that this case is the source of
the farcical scenes in Ben Jonsons
Alchemist
involving Abel Drugger and his
aunt, the Queen of Fairy, has been strongly challenged by Richard Levin,
who draws attention to an earlier lawsuit: in  a cunning woman, Judith
Phillips, was arraigned at the Sessions house without New- gateŽ for cheat-
ing a rich churle in HampshireŽ out of fourteen pounds by o"
ering to enlist
the help of the queen of fairies to reveal the whereabouts of trea sure buried
on his farm.
Levin argues that Judith Phillipss case should no more be con-
sidered a source for
e Alchemist
than 
omas Rogerss, but for our purposes
both serve to show that fairy beliefs were alive and well in Shakespeares day
and that they were sometimes met with open mockery, not merely by sophis-
ticated playwrights like Jonson but also by the two anonymous pamphleteers
Iudeth Philips, a professed cunning woman
and
A quest of enquirie, / by women
to know, / whether the tripe- wife were trimmed / by Doll yea or no / Gathered by
Oliuer Oat- meale
might seem to take us well beyond the in1
uence of Geof-
frey Chaucer, but the case of Brian Walker )* proves that the poet might
turn up in some surprising places. Walker was hauled up before an ecclesiasti-
cal court in Durham for utteringe blasphemous woordesŽ and is reported to
have said, I doe not beleive there is eyther God or dev ill, neyther will I beleive
anie thinge but what I see.Ž In the course of the trial one of the witnesses
testi2
ed to hearing Walker conferr and speake of the booke called Chawcer,
\r \b\t\b(\t
So thoroughly does the fairy ethos permeate late sixteenth- and early
seventeenth- century En glish courtly verse and so clearly can we see the hand
of Chaucer in it that it would be pos si ble to discuss several other examples,
but for the sake of brevity I mention just two here. In the charming lyric Hark,
all you ladies that do sleep9Ž not only does 
omas Campion call his fairy
queen Proserpina„ a clear echo of
e Merchants Tale
„ but like Chaucer, he
enlists her in the advancement of female sensual plea sure:
All you that love or loved before,
e fairy- queen Proserpina
Bids you increase that loving humour more )lines …*.
ere are some suggestions that this song may have been written for a masque,
but if so, it could hardly have been one intended for per for mance before the
Virgin Queen. Michael Drayton, author of
Nymphidia,
one of the most deft
of early modern fairy poems, reveals an obvious debt to
Sir 
opas
in the
poems 2
rst line:
Olde Chaucer doth of Topas tell,
Mad Rablais of Pantagruell,
A latter third of Dowsabell,
With such poore tri1
es playing.
He then contrasts these with another sort . . . that will / Be talking of the
fayries still.Ž

ose who miss the joke that
Sir 
opas
actually
about fairies
)and
Pantagruell
about giants* will prob ably also fail to twig that the latter
thirdŽ is Drayton himself )
Dowsabell
is a slightly smutty pastoral, written in the
meter of
Sir 
opas
, who is also mentioned in its 2
rst stanza*.
But the Chauce-
rian echoes do not end here. 
e fairy knight Pigwiggen has a love a"
air with
Queen Mab, much to the annoyance of King Oberon, and 2
nds himself
forced to 2
ght a joust with her husband; bloodshed is avoided only by the in-
tervention of Proserpina, who envelops the combatants in infernal fog and then
commands peace in Plutos name. 
e allusions, not only to
Sir 
opas
but also
e Knights Tale
and
e Merchants Tale
, are impossible to ignore.
Nymphidia
is so self- consciously arti2 cial and fantastic that it is easy to
forget that some of Draytons contemporaries still took fairies seriously. In the
summer of  the London theaters were closed because of the plague, and
\r \b\t\b(\t 
priests, and leacherous Friers, . . . writes in good plaine termes of the holy
Couent of Friers thus:
For there as wont to walken was an
Elfe,
ere walketh now the
Limitor
himselfe:
In euery bush, and vnder euery tree,
ere nis none other
Iucubus
but hee.Ž
Harsnett is well known to literary scholars for providing Shakespeare with a
list of outlandish names for dev ils to be used by Poor Tom in
King Lear
, but
another of Shakespeares sources, Reginald Scot )who apparently supplied some
of the fairy lore for
A Midsummer Nights Dream
*, was also an admirer of Chau-
cer. Scot ends book  of his
Discouerie of Witchcraft
)which treats of bawdie
Incubus and Succubus, and whether the action of venerie may be performed
between witches and divellsŽ* with a much longer )2
fteen- line* quotation from
the opening of
e Wife of Baths Tale
: Now will I ) after all this long dis-
course of abhominable cloked knaveries* here conclude with certeine of
G.Chaucers verses, who as he smelt out the absurdities of poperie, so found
he the priests knaverie in this matter of incubus and )as the time would su"
him* he derided their follie and falsehood.Ž
)Incidentally, the enthusiasm
with which these Protestant apologists embrace Chaucer as an ally is partially
explained by the fact that in the sixteenth century
e Plowmans Tale
was
accepted as part of the canon.*
As a late sixteenth- century promoter of the Elizabethan fairy myth Shake-
speare was certainly less prominent than Spenser, but the image of fairyland
presented by
A Midsummer Nights Dream
)as well as the ending of
e Merry
Wives of Windsor
and Mercutios Queen Mab speech in
Romeo and Juliet
* is
no less aestheticized. It is also, as several critics have pointed out, similarly
indebted to Chaucer. While the most obvious intertext of
A Midsummer Nights
Dream
is
e Knights Tale
, Tyrwhitt long ago suggested that Shakespeare
modeled Oberon and Titania on Pluto and Proserpina in
e Merchants Tale
and recent criticism has expanded this insight.
e Tale of Sir 
opas
has
been proposed as another Chaucerian intertext for the play, either as a pat-
tern for the homespun parody of the play within a play
or, intriguingly, as a
springboard for Bottoms adventure: the only suggestion [Shakespeare] could
have got for this amazing m
salliance is from the extravagant love of the
doughty Sir 
opas for his unknown elf- queen.Ž
\r \b\t\b(\t
It is particularly striking, then, to 2
nd that a Protestant divine, 
omas Hol-
land, felt himself obliged to defend Elizabeths Accession Day cele brations
against Catholic polemicists who he claimed objected not only to the ring-
ing of bells that day, the bone- 2
res, and other signes of ioy vsed by the faith-
full people of the landŽ but also to the triumphs vsed now yeerely before
White- HallŽ )that is, the tilts*. Although the Elizabethan fairy myth is not
directly addressed, it is certainly implied. According to Holland, Catholics
complain that these exercises upon [open] a win dow to reduce people backe
againe to heathenish Paganisme, extinguished already by the light of the
gospell, . . . that [they] are meere parasitical devises, and voide of religion, as
they are performed in th
Realme, . . . [and that they] haue no better grounde,
then the
dolatrous rites and pastimes exhibited by the Heathen to
Iupiter,
Mars, Hercules, &c.
is is certainly the kind of thinking that was eager to
identify fairy beliefs with witchcraft, so it is particularly ironic that Hollands
own sister- in- law, Anne Gunter, should have claimed that she was the victim
of witches in . Holland was rector of Exeter College in Oxford at the
time and three years earlier had preached a sermon at St.Pauls Cross in sup-
port of the churchs moderate position on witchcraft;
it is signi2
cant, then,
that he should have remained aloof at the trial of those accused of bewitching
Anne Gunter, even though his wife and several of the dons in his college gave
evidence for the prosecution.
omas Holland certainly knew his Chaucer„in a sermon on the
Queen of Sheba, printed along with his defense of the Accession Day fes-
tivities, he quotes, the greatest clarkes are not the wisest menŽ )f. F
* from
Chaucers
Reeves Tale
)line *„ but in this re spect he is outdone by an-
other Anglican divine, one who would go on to far greater eminence and
one, moreover, who took an active role in exonerating the women accused by
Anne Gunter„ Samuel Harsnett. In
A declaration of egregious popish impos-
tures to with- draw the harts of her Maiesties subiects from their allegeance, and
from the truth of Christian religion professed in Eng land, vnder the pretence of cast-
ing out deuils
, printed in  but evidently written some time earlier, Harsnett
turns from
those that haue their braines baited, and their fancies distempered
with the imaginations, and apprehensions of Witches, Coniurers, and Fayries,
and all that Lymphatical ChimaeraŽ to a fount of common sense: And
Geo ry
Chaucer
, who had his two eyes, wit, and learning in his head, spying that all
these brainlesse immaginations, of witchings, possessings, house- hanting, and
the rest, were the forgeries, cosenages, Imposturs, and legerdemaine of craftie
\r \b\t\b(\t 
Chaucers poem.
Sir 
opas
ered him all the aesthetic resources of fairy-
land with none of its historical baggage.
As is well known, the idea of associating Elizabeth I with the fairy queen
did not originate with Spenser. We cannot be sure exactly when the queens
champion and or ga nizer of the Accession Day tilts, Sir Henry Lee, 2
rst hit on
the idea, since the rec ords are far from continuous, but it features prominently
in an entertainment with which he welcomed Elizabeth to Woodstock )sup-
posed by some in the sixteenth century to be Chaucers birthplace* in ; we
are here prob ably close to the living springs in living pageantry whence both
Sidneys
Arcadia
and Spensers
Faerie Queene
drew their emotional nourish-
ment,Ž writes Frances Yates.
Nevertheless, since the fairy queen was certainly
a feature of some of the later tilts that Lee was to or ga nize, she could well have
appeared earlier. At any rate there can be no doubt that fairy played a signi2
cant and recurrent part in one of the central dramatic vehicles for Elizabethan
mythmaking.Ž

ere is no direct evidence that Lee drew his inspiration from
Chaucer )though, since he received his education from his uncle Sir 
omas
\r \b\t\b(\t
the attempt to represent Constance as a fairy succubus is a malicious inven-
tion on the part of her mother- in- law )
e Man of Laws Tale
, line *. Fi-
nally, elves make two broadly comic appearances in
e Canterbury Tales
: in
Sir  opass erotic fantasy of an elf queen to sleep under his gooreŽ )
e Tale
of Sir 
opas
, line *; and in the
dii ex machina
, Pluto and Proserpina, who
interrupt Mays strugleŽ with Damian in a pear tree )
e Merchants Tale
, lines
"
.*. None of this suggests that Chaucer took fairies seriously, as either the
mysterious denizens of a green world or the demons whom Satan employs to
try to undermine Christendom. 
ough perfectly prepared to exploit its imag-
inative possibilities, Chaucer plainly regards fairyland as an absurd delusion,
and in this he di"
ers from the
Gawain
\r \b\t\b(\t 
voices to be raised against the persecution of witches, but lest we assume that
only skeptics might have characterized the witches sabbat as a fairy dance, here
\r \b\t\b(\t
chiefely begotten ChildrenŽ might include Fairies, Elfes, and Changelings.Ž
From this perspective the wise- womans primary role was to counter, not ex-
ploit, fairy power.  us the physician William Bullein, writing in , tells
of a false witchŽ from Su"
olk who a few years earlier had no small resort of
foolysh women, when their Chyldren were syck. To thys lame Wytch they re-
sorted, to haue the Fairie charmed, and the Spyrite coniured away.Ž
Perhaps
it was professional jealousy that led him to exclaim, Oh9 
at damnable
witches be su"
red to liue vnpunished so many blessed men burned9Ž
George Gi"
ord gives a far less hostile account of a local wisewoman )in *:
ere was another of my neighbours had his wife much troubled, and he
went to her, and shee tolde him, his wife was haunted with a Fairy. I cannot
tell what shee bad him doe, but the woman is mery at this howre.Ž
Clearly,
the relationship between cunning folk and fairies remained ambivalent well
into the early modern period.
In recent years the historiography of early modern witchcraft has had little
time for any such fairy dimension. No doubt reacting against the discredited
\r \b\t\b(\t 
fairies are not„ but in his own time such a con1
ation seems to have been com-
monplace. Bishop 
omas Cooper in his
esaurus linguae Romanae & Bri-
tannicae
)*, for instance, glosses
strix
as a witche that chaungeth the fauour
of children: a hegge or fairie,Ž a de2
nition echoed by John Baret in his
rie or triple dictionarie, in En glishe, Latin, and French
)*.
As John Swan
explains in a marginal note to his
Speculum Mundi
)*, 
e Scriechowl.
which the Latines understand by the word Strix. . . . Some )in old time* have
fabled strange things of this bird, . . . whereupon some have used the same
word for a witch, a fairie, or hagge.Ž
 e same kind of con1
ation occurs with
the word
: for example, John Higginss translation of Adrianus Juniuss
e nomenclator
)of * glosses
incubus
as ephialtes, . . . a kinde of disease
called the night mare or witch.Ž

ings do not seem to have been very dif-
fer ent on the Continent. Florios
Worlde of Wordes
, the 2
rst Italian/En glish
dictionary )*, for instance, glosses
Fata
as a fairie, a witch, an enchant-
res, an elfeŽ and
Strega
as a witch, a sorceresse, a charmer, a hag or fairie,Ž
and a year later Richard Percivals
Dictionarie in Spanish and En glish
glosses
Estant
as a hag, a hob goblin.Ž
Nor is this con1
ation restricted to the
dictionaries: William Barlow, in a translation of three sermons by Ludwig
Lavater )*, for instance, raises a question often discussed and muche de-
bated, both by learned men and Idiottes: Whether
Sorserers or Witches, Faries
or Spirites
)call them by what name you will* can raise anie tempests, or bring
downe such Hayle as wee oft see.Ž
e basis of such a con1
ation is not far to seek: if witches were the e$
cient cause of magical activity, fairy potency must sometimes have appeared
to constitute its material cause. We have seen that when an archiepiscopal
court in  accused the Su"
olk wise- woman Marion Clerk of having the
art of healing people of vari ous diseases,Ž she defended herself by saying that
she had received this art from God and the Blessed Virgin and the gracious
fairies,Ž
and when a cunning man named John Walsh was asked in  how
he knoweth when anye man is bewytched,Ž he answered that he knew it part-
lye by the Feries.Ž
Our common wizards,Ž wrote William Vaughan in ,
auerre, that they walke euery weeke with the Fayries.Ž
For those who had
been cured of a malady after paying a visit to such cunning folk, then, it would
have amounted to much the same thing whether their recovery were attrib-
uted to the actions of a witch or a fairy.
From a less sympathetic perspec-
tive, of course, the fairies themselves might be seen as the cause of malevolent
ects: a skeptical John Gaule, while asserting that the principall E$
cient of
a Witch is the Dev ill,Ž rejects one of the Plebeian traditionsŽ that the dev ils
Postscript
More strange than true: I never may believe
ese antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
„ Shakespeare,
A Midsummer Nights Dream
is book began withC.S. Lewis and it will end with him. In his
Discarded
Image
, Lewis noted a curious anomaly in the Re nais sance attitude to fairies:
within the same island and same century Spenser could compliment Eliza-
beth I by identifying her with the Faerie Queene and a woman could be burned
at Edinburgh in  for repairing with the fairies and the Queene of
Elfame Ž )p.*. In what follows, I will explore Lewiss anomaly, partly as a
way of wrapping up a topic that has been touched on several times in this
study„ the way the medieval churchs longstanding campaign against ver-
nacular superstition culminated in the witch hunting of the early modern
period„ and partly to argue for an aspect of Geo"
rey Chaucers legacy to
sixteenth- century Eng land that has remained unappreciated. First, however,
it will be necessary to emphasize something that would have seemed less con-
tentious in Lewiss day than in our own: that the discourse of early modern
witchcraft was riddled with medieval fairy lore.
On Saturday, April  the self- styled physician Simon Forman went
to the Globe 
eatre in London to see a per for mance of
Macbeth
: 
er was
to be obserued, 2
rste, howe Mackbeth and Bancko, noble men of Scotland,
Ridinge thorowe a wod, the)r* stode before them  women feiries or Nimphes,
And Saluted Mackbeth, sayinge,  tyms vnto him, haille Makcbeth, king of
Codon; for thou shalt be a Kinge, but shalt beget No kinges, c. then said
Bancko, What all to mackbeth And nothinge to me. yes, said the nimphes,
Haille to thee, Banko, thou shalt beget kings, yet be no kinge.Ž
To the mod-
ern eye Formans apparent identi2
cation of
Macbeth
s witches as feiries or
NimphesŽ looks distinctly odd„ witches, we assume, are human beings, and
Living in Fairyland
e extremely wide distribution of the exemplum of the monk and the
bird implies something more than the ubiquity of fairy beliefs in the Middle
Ages, however. It suggests that tra$
c between learned and vernacular tradi-
tions did not all 1 ow in one direction, and that the church was sometimes
prepared to temporize with fairy beliefs in order to win over the other estates to
its cause. Certainly if we proj ect back from the witch hunts of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries we may be led to assume an attitude of unrelenting and
violent hostility toward all popu lar superstition on the part of the medieval
elite, but
Owayne Miles
hints at another possibility. Caesarius of Heisterbachs
novice had been unsure whether to understand Avalon as purgatory or hell,
and though
Owayne Miles
s infernalized purgatory seems to vacillate between
each of these unappetizing prospects, its portrayal of the earthly paradise ap-
pears to o"
er something rather more inclusive. 
e land on the far side of its
sword bridge contains the gateway to the heavenly kingdom, and if some
people envisioned this land as fairyland, perhaps their error need not be wholly
wrongheaded; like the abbots enchanting birdsong, Avalon might usefully be
reclaimed for doctrinal purposes. Such an enlightened attitude was never
the dominant one in the Middle Ages, but that it can be detected at all makes
the savagely repressive campaigns of the early modern church, both Catholic
and Protestant, seem all the more repugnant.
folklore at the heart of the genesis of Purgatory.Ž
#37
It is entirely understand-
able that Le Go"
should see the relationship between the great tradition
and the little tradition here as an adversarial one„ even though, as he points
out, parodic inversion is usually a weapon employed by the weak against the
strong, not the other way around„ but I will conclude this chapter with a
rather di"
er ent instance of heterochronology, one where the church appears
to be colluding with, rather than resisting, popu lar tradition.
e story of the monk and the bird was one of the most popu lar of me-
dieval exempla.
#48
A vernacular En glish version of it appears in
Northern
Homily Cycle
)in the Vernon Manuscript*,
but it is given here in Jacques de
Vitrys con ve niently succinct account:
We read of a certain very pious abbot that when he was contemplat-
ing the last things and what might happen to him after this pres ent
life, among other things he began to ponder the joys of paradise and
how it was that the saints could spend so long in one place without
being bored. And immediately, while he was in a garden near the
abbey, a most beautiful bird appeared to him, with which he began
to play and in whose most charming song he took par tic u lar
delight. Coming to himself once more, he arrived at the gate of
theabbey and found every thing changed; he did not recognize the
doorkeeper, nor could anyone in the monastery identify who he
was. And when he said, I am the abbot of this monastery who just
now went out to the garden to meditate,Ž they, dubious and
confounded, consulted a book in which were written the names of
the former abbots, and found that three hundred years had passed
since the monastery had recorded his abbacy.
#4%
In some versions the bird is said to be an angel in the guise of a bird,
#4+
and
De Vitrys account ends with a quote from Psalm :, but the fairy origins
of this story cannot be disguised either by turning its spirit/bird into an angel
or by alluding to the swift passage of a thousand years in [Gods] sightŽ; if
nothing else, the bemused return of the central character to a world unrecog-
nizably changed )as with Herla, Guingamor, or Ogier the Dane* makes such
origins self- evident. Moreover the terrestrial paradise )associated, as we have
seen, with fairyland in the popu lar imagination* generated similar accounts.
#40
Indeed the tale survived as an actual fairy story in Wales down to the nine-
teenth century.
#43
Living in Fairyland
never identi2
ed )the fact that she refers to the Virgin in the third person sug-
gests that she is not herself Mary*, though she might be compared with the
far less fully described faire womanŽ who appears at the top of a tower at the
end of William of Strantons vision. Two of this womans actions, however,
link her with a fairy counterpart. First, she gives Leversedges soul an )uncon-
sciously ironic* out- of- body experience: Sho showid my saule also
e towne
and wallis of Oxforth, with
e ryvers and medeues pertei[ni]ng
ertoŽ
)p.*„in this his experience resembles that of Marion Clerk, who claimed
to have visited Canterbury by the power of the fairies.Ž
#34
Second, she pre-
dicts the future: sho told me of suche of my kynne
at shuld die, as my
er, and also
at al my enmyes shuld be deed or
at I come home into my
contreyŽ )p.*. However, by far the most remarkable fairy correspondence
in the whole vision occurs when Leversedge 2
rst meets this woman; the dev ils
complain from the bottom of the hill that she has wronged them by depriv-
ing them of Leversedges soul: And
ey schewid a similitude and shappis of
the facion of my pykis, bolstirs, stu$
d dowblettes, schort gownes, hygh
bonettes, long heere and of al
e inordinate aray
at ever I usyd, and shoke hit
and schuvid hit up to
e hille and seid of very right my saule aught to be
ersŽ
)pp.…*. 
similitude
of Edmund Leversedge that the dev ils shake to
prove their right to his soul must surely belong to the same category as the
 gmenta
that 
omas of Cantimpr
discusses at such length and which I ear-
lier compared to the folk that 
t [seemed] dede, nare nou
tŽ )line *
outside the fairy kings hall in
Sir Orfeo
„in other words, it is one of the
model corpses that fairies were supposed to be able to construct in order to
mislead bereaved relatives into believing that their loved ones were truly dead
and buried. Anyone approaching this
similitude
exclusively through the dis-
course of purgatory will 2
nd it disconcertingly opaque; only in the discourse
of fairyland is its meaning plainly revealed.
For some medievalists, the idea that the discourse of purgatory should
have been modeled on that of fairyland, or at least should have been sedu-
lously promoted as a corrective to it, will seem a travesty. 
omas of Erceldoune
may have mistaken a fairy for the Virgin Mary, but surely no one could have
mistaken the Virgin for a fairy.
#35

ere is, however, one feature shared by both
versions of the otherworld where the direction of in1
uence looks to be
incontrovertible„ their heterochronology. Le Go"
has called the contrast be-
tween purgatorial time, where one year can seem like a thousand,
#36
and time
in what he calls the Celtic otherworld, where the passing years are experienced
as days, as a play of inversionsŽ and o"
ers it as one proof the presence of
is wonderful gallimaufry of questing knights and imprisoned princesses,
of impregnable castles and paradisal gardens, of secret holes and underground
passages, of burning rivers and sword bridges )not to mention talking foxes*
demonstrates how thoroughly the discourses of fairyland and purgatory had
interpenetrated one another by the middle of the thirteenth century.
Medieval visions of the afterlife often involve priests or monks, but even
where the visionaries are secular )as with Fursey, Tundale, or the visitors to
Saint Patricks Purgatory*, their accounts must often have been vetted by the
authorities. 
ere is, however, one remarkable exception: the report of a near-
death experience in ,
e Vision of Edmund Leversedge
Leversedge, the
youn gest son of a Somerset gentleman, was clearly literate and, judging from
the aspersions he casts on the morals and learning of several local priests )lines
…*, a man of in de pen dent religious views; his vision is strikingly idio-
syncratic. It begins conventionally enough: after Leversedge has been smy-
tone with
e plage of pestylenceŽ )p.*, su"
ered the torments of two dev ils
dis2
gurid foule and lothesomeŽ )p.*, and been given up for dead by his
Living in Fairyland
perilous bridges should be their honed edges. One obvious way to account for
this is direct interference from Lancelots celebrated sword bridge in Chr
tien de Troyess
hardeŽ )line * or Orfeos sojourn in the
wildernes
„ Lord9 who may telle
e sore /
is king su"
erd ten
ere more?Ž )lines …*„ often takes on a
penitential aspect.
It will be immediately obvious that the journey in
Owayne Miles
, with its
entrance through a hole in the ground, its progression through purgatory in the
face of hostile opposition, and its perilous crossing into the earthly paradise,
closely mimics this pattern. Moreover some of its speci2
c details, not merely the
entrance through a hole but the presence of an unearthly underground light and
the crossing of a perilous bridge, are fairy commonplaces, though such parallels
are sometimes clearer in the vernacular renderings than they are in the original
Tractatus
. For instance, none of the En glish versions calls the entrance to Saint
Patricks Purgatory a cave, perhaps because the fossa rotundaŽ of the
Tractatus
implies that it is not a natu ral formation,
#06
but the description of the Auchin-
leck version is considerably more uncanny than the Latin:
er was an hole michel apert,
at griseliche was of si
Round it was about and blak;
In alle
e warlde no was his mack,
So griseliche entring. )sts. …*
e perilous bridge, one of the most ubiquitous feature of journeys to both
the afterlife and to fairyland )as Patch has shown*, is given an in ter est ing twist
in many of the vernacular versions of
St Patricks Purgatory
e Latin
Tracta-
)in both
and
versions* assigns three qualities to this bridge: it is slip-
pery )
lubricus
*; it is narrow )
strictus et gracilis
*; and it is dizzyingly high*,
#07
and this is how it is described by both Marie de France and the
South En glish
Legendary
)nar
slider heyŽ*. On the other hand, the Auchinleck ver-
sion describes it as scharpe as a rasourŽ )st. *, the Cotton MS of
Owayne
Miles \t
calls it kener
en ony glasseŽ )line *, the Yale MS, as scharp as
ony sw[e]rd,Ž and another of the Anglo- Norman versions, as trechant cum
un rasur.Ž
#38
Moreover, in the
Visiones Georgii
this bridge is acutissimus et . . .
scindentissimus ad modum ensisŽ [exceedingly sharp and keen like a sword]
)p.*, in one manuscript of the
Visio Ludovici
it is amplum velut talentum
cutelliŽ [as wide as the blade of a knife],
#3#
and in the
Vision of William of Stran-
ton
the rungs of a ladder, which is substituted for the bridge, are sharper
an
ony rasor.Ž
#3%
us we are left with the distinct impression that, despite the
Tractatus
, popu lar feeling supported the notion that the main peril of all such
Living in Fairyland
he later makes the same claim at an abbey where he is staying the night: si leur
dist comme il auoit este sans nulle faulte en paradis terrestreŽ [he told them
how without fail he had been in the earthly paradise] )p.*. In a remarkable
scene the next morning, he makes a full confession to the abbot but quite de-
liberately conceals from him the secrets of fairyland:  puis luy dist con-
fessa la vraie verite de son cas et conscience
sauf et excepte tout le secret de fairie
quil garda secretement
Ž [my italics] )p.*.
is idea„ that fairies inhabited the terrestrial paradise„is even implied
by the
South En glish Legendary,
the text that includes the 2
rst En glish trans-
lation of the
Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii
. Speaking of the neutral
angels )a little later in the text to be associated explic itly with elves*, it says,
In eor[
]lich parais somme beo
also / And in o
er studes an eor
e hore
penance to doŽ [some are also in the earthly paradise and in other places on
earth, in order to perform their penance].
#04
Indeed the
Legendary
s remark,
quoted above, about 
e ssrewenŽ that are in pultatorieŽ may derive ultimately
from some popu lar account of them )wat me telleŽ* as penitents rather than
as tormentors. Given such associations, it is little won der that the action of
Owayne Miles
should invite comparison with fairy romances.
To enter the fairy world in the Middle Ages was not as straightforward as
simply stepping into a wardrobe. We have already noted that the precise point
at which Lancelot crosses into the land of Gorre in Chr
tiens
Chevalier de la
charete
is unclear )though Douglas Kellys suggestion that it is after he has left
the mysterious cemetery and long before he reaches the famous sword bridge
seems plausible*, but the larger point is that fairyland is often conceived of as
being a kind of peripheral zone or hinterland surrounding a central nucleus,
usually a castle, and that journeys to fairyland thus entail three stages: * an
initial crossing of the boundary between the fairy world and that of mortals; *
a perilous journey through an uncanny territory; and* a second crossing into
the fairy heartland. 
is pattern is pres ent in Reinbruns rescue of Amis from
fairyland, but
omas of Erceldoune
ers an even clearer instance. His fairy
lover leads 
omas in at Eldon hill, / Vndir nether a derne leeŽ )lines …
*;
they then travel in darkness the montenans of dayes threeŽ )line *,
wading through knee- deep water, until they arrive at a beautiful garden, where
omas is warned not to touch any of the fruit Or ells
e fende the will at-
teyntŽ )line *; it is only at this point that he is shown 2
ve paths, one of
which leads to a faire castelle, / . . . In erthe is none lyke it vn tillŽ )lines
…*. It is worth pointing out that this perilous journey, as in Gawains
ride through the
wyldrenesse of Wyrale
in peryle and payne and plytes ful
imagination: as Bartholomaeus Anglicus writes of the Fortunate Isles, 
e grounde bere
all manere of fruyt withoute tilyng. [
ere] on dounes treen
ben alweye yclo
ede with greene twigges and spray and with swete fruyt and
gode.
er corne growe
as herbes and gras.
erfore erroure of naciouns and
dyte of secular poetes, for godenesse of the grounde mened
is ilondes be
Paradys; and
at is errour.Ž
#0%
Howard Patch has already delineated the ex-
tensive parallels between Avalon and the earthly paradise, and there is no point
in repeating his work here,
#0+
but it is impor tant to stress that these connec-
tions go beyond the merely rhetorical. For some people, the earthly paradise
was actually populated by fairies.
e text that demonstrates this most explic itly is an early fourteenth- century
Roman dOgier
e earliest verse versions of this
roman
have never been ed-
ited, but a faithful 2
fteenth- century prose rendering is easier to consult.
#00
contains an episode in which Ogier the Dane is shipwrecked on a voyage to
India only to 2
nd himself pres du chasteau . . . dAuallon qui nest gueres deca
paradis terrestre, la ou furent rauis en vne raye de feu Enoc helye, l
ou
estoit morgue la fayeŽ [near the castle of Avalon which is just this side of the
earthly paradise. 
ere Enock and Helyas were transported in a 2
ery beam
and there was Morgan le Fay] )p.*. After spending a night in the castle
accompanied by only a fairy horse, Ogier followed a little path which took
him to a garden which was so beautiful and pleasing that it was a little para-
dise to the eye. And in it there were such 2
ne trees bearing fruit of all kindsŽ
[suiuit vne pe tite sente que le mena en vng vergier tant bel tant plaisant que
Living in Fairyland
And
e tit an eor
e al
i lif . richesse ioie also
For we ssolle
nde inou . as ri
t is
at we do. )
South
En glish Legendary
, lines …*
 erefore we advise you to change your mind and do homage to
us here and we shall safely lead you back the way you came, and
wealth and joy await you on earth all your life, for we shall always
provide for you as we ought to do.]
In the Latin
Tractatus
the primary role of the demons is to try to make
Owein turn back, but in Marie de Frances
Lespurgatoire
they employ their
threats to recruit him to their cause: Sa nus ne vus volez tenirŽ )line *; se
vus ne nus creezŽ )line *; se vus ne cunsentez a nusŽ )line *; Sa nus
ne vus volez tenirŽ )line *.
#+5
Surrounded by scenes of desolation and tor-
ture, Owein might be forgiven for regarding this as a less than attractive
proposition, but such o"
ers are strongly reminiscent of the way demons/fair-
ies are presented in pastoral lit er a ture elsewhere. In par tic u lar, it invites com-
parison with 
omas of Cantimpr
s account of the German Dominicans visit
to the hall of some
dusii
- demons deep in a mountain or with the Vernon Man-
uscripts
Disputation Between a Christian and a Jew
#+6
e second striking feature of
Owayne Miles
is the prominence it gives
to the terrestrial paradise, which occupies almost as much of the poem as pur-
gatory does. Indeed, as Robert Easting has pointed out, from this perspective
Le Go" s ternary system is in e"
ect a quaternary one )adding the earthly para-
dise to heaven, hell, and purgatory*.
#+7
Having traversed purgatory, Owayne
crosses a perilous bridge over hell and arrives in the terrestrial paradise, from
where he can see, but not enter, the gates to the celestial paradise. In terms of
its role in the soteriological economy, however, the function of this terrestial
paradise is far from clear; it acts as a staging post along the road to eternal
bliss, but even the two archbishops who act as Owaynes guides at this point
seem unable to explain what precisely it is doing there or why the properly
penitent should not proceed immediately to their heavenly reward )
South En-
glish Legendary
, lines …*. Again, though
Owayne Miles
s position could
count on only lukewarm theological support,
#08
the role of this properly sal-
c earthly paradise in neutralizing a popu lar fairy belief was clearly para-
mount. Medieval descriptions of paradise, of the Fortunate Isles, and of Avalon
all depended so heavi ly on the classical topos of the
locus amoenus
#0#
that it
was natu ral that all three locations should become confused in the popu lar
oru
rote somme somme [.]
oru ei
er ere wel hei
Somme
oru hore deorne limes . somme
oru hore tete
at hom were leuer
anne alle
e world .
at hi mi
at lif lete
Somme upe gridils of ire . yrosted were also
Somme as ges in spites of ire .
oru out hom ydo
Somme leie upward fram
e gronde .
onynge wel uaste
e deuelen walde led bras . in hore mou
caste. )
South En glish
Legendary
, lines …*
#++
[Some hung on high from 2
ery iron chains; some by the arms,
some by the feet, and many by the neck were hung in a strong 2
of pitch and brimstone; some hung up high by iron hooks stuck in
one of their eyes, or through their throats, or in one of their ears, or
in their sexual organs or in their breasts, so that they wanted to die
more than anything in the world; some were also roasted on iron
grills, and some with iron spits stuck through them like geese;
some lay on their backs gaping wide while dev ils poured lead and
brass into their mouths.]
Furthermore the administering of such torments clearly required that purga-
tory be populated with demons, and though the
South En glish Legendary
ver-
sion suggests that this was an unexceptional notion„ For in pultatorie
ssrewen beo
. as wel as in helle / And wor
e forte
e day of dome . telle wat
me telleŽ [for there are dev ils in purgatory, just as in hell, and will be till
Doomsday; I report what men say] )lines …*„it was far from being stan-
dard theology.
#+0
One of the duties of these demons is to impede Owaynes
pro gress through purgatory and to force him to return, but though he is warned
that they will employ torments, threats, and blandishments )nec tormentis
nec minis nec promissis eorum cesserisŽ [p.]*, in the Latin
Tractatus
they
rely almost exclusively on the 2
rst two.
However, when we turn to the vernacular versions of the
Tractatus
) there
are three in de pen dent Middle En glish verse translations and four in Anglo-
Norman, including one by Marie de France*,
#+3
we encounter something much
closer to the visions of George and Louis: demons actually trying to recruit
Owayne to their cause:
er uore we rede
turn
t . and do us her manrede
And we ssolle
þe]
ane wei as
ou come . al sauf a
en lede
Living in Fairyland
trunco coartamŽ*.
#%7
One of the kings servants hammers away at it with a
spike, tightening the trees grip and causing him excruciating pain, but when
the king o"
ers him the relief of a soothing warm bath, he promptly 2
nds him-
self being boiled alive; predictably the subsequent o"
er of a cool bath to refresh
him leads to his being plunged into freezing water and being lacerated with
shards of ice. Ever trusting, he then accepts an invitation to visit the games
room, where he is hung up by his feet and bounced like a ball from one abrasive
wall to the next. In the morning the king and his servants have vanished and
the knight 2
nds himself alone in the entrance to purgatory. Even without East-
ings suggestive association of King Gulinus with Herlewinus )pp.…*,
there is plenty of evidence that we are dealing here with a barely Christianized
account of the dangerous hospitality of the fairy folk.
To read the
Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii
, or its En glish deriva-
tive
Owayne Miles
, after accounts such as these is to 2
nd oneself moving in a
very di"
er ent world. While far from being theologically watertight, its romance
under pinnings are more thoroughly masked and its echoes of fairyland more
deeply buried, so it is hardly surprising that this should be the version espoused
by the great tradition. Nevertheless the under lying form of the quest romance
cannot be wholly suppressed, and one par tic u lar detail )regarded with skepti-
cism by some fourteenth- century writers, such as Nicholas Oresme and Jean
Froissart*
#+8
underlines its pedigree: unlike many other accounts of journeys to
the otherworld, Owaynes visit is still made in the 1
esh, not merely in the
spirit„as the Auchinleck version puts it, He was deliuerd from
e fendes tur-
ment / Quic man into
at place.Ž
#+#
e parallel with actual visits to fairyland
by romance heroes such as Sir Orfeo )also found in the Auchinleck manuscript*
is unmistakable. Furthermore )as we shall see* other romance motifs such as
the sword bridge, though suppressed in the
Tractatus
, reemerge alive and well
in its vernacular reworkings.
Two features of the otherworld in the
Tractatus
stand out. 
e 2
rst, to
use Le Go" s term, is the infernalization of its purgatory. Readers coming to
it from Dantes
Purgatorio
will be shocked by its savage brutality, for only the
fact that a limit is set to their duration seems to distinguish its torments from
those of hell itself:
#+%
Somme wi
irene rakeie . al furi honge an hey
Somme bi armes somme bi uet . bi
e swure manion
Anhonge were in stronge vure . of pich of brymston
Somme honge bi stronge oules . iput in ei
your completely vacuous faith]. Lest we should be tempted to think of this
queen as a fairy, however, the author is careful to point out that she has clo-
ven hooves )
Visiones Georgii,
pp.…*. In another Saint Patricks Purgatory
narrative, however, the
Visio Ludovico de Francia
)dated to *, the penitent,
though warned that he is about to encounter demons )Ecce demones ve-
nientŽ*, has a series of visions of unblemished female beauty.
#%4
A group of
dancing teen agers )in etate XVI vel XVII annorumŽ* with snowy fore-
heads, creamy complexions, teeth like ivory, lips like coral, and breasts like
apples, who represent themselves to him as power ful and immortal goddesses
possessed of great wealth )dee immortales habentes potestatem magnam
multasque divitiasŽ*, are succeeded by 2
ve further groups of women, each
more captivating than the last, who o"
er him delicious dishes, untold wealth,
and of course sex. Along with some alluring nuns )monasterium pulcheri-
marum dominarumŽ*, they include a weeping girl with a bag of silver and
gold sitting beside a fountain and three ladies playing chess beneath a beauti-
ful tree. Sonia Barillari is surely right to associate these signore del purgato-
rioŽ with the fairies of medieval folklore.
#%5
Visions such as those of George Grissaphan and Louis of France are some-
times lumped in with the
Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii
and treated
as popu lar counter parts of Dantes
Inferno
and
Purgatorio
, but there is a ma-
jor di"
erence. Unlike Owein, George and Louis are not passive observers of
the horrors of hell or the trials of purgatory; they are active participants in what
can only be described as a perilous quest. 
e demons of Saint Patricks Purga-
tory take on alluring forms in order to win them over to their cause, and they
survive only by rigid adherence to protective rituals. 
is aspect of their visions
is barely touched on in the
Tractatus
, where the demons appear in propria per-
sona, though )as we shall see* it can be detected in some of the vernacular ver-
sions of
Owayne Miles
us the under lying structure of these variant narratives
is that of the quest romance, and it is surely no coincidence that their protago-
nists should be drawn from the knightly class. One of the earliest and strangest
of these ancillary Saint Patricks Purgatory narratives, Peter of Cornwalls story
)ca. * of an unnamed knight who had visited Lough Derg thirty years
earlier,
#%6
renders this romance underpinning completely transparent. Once he
has entered purgatory this knight comes upon the hall of a huntsman- king
called Gulinus, who immediately tenders him the hand of his beautiful
daughter. 
at night in the throes of passion he opens his eyes only to discover
that he is embracing an old withered tree and that his penis is trapped in a 2
sure in its trunk )uirilem ipsius uirgam in quodam foramine facto in illo
Living in Fairyland
ney of an En glish knight called Owein, furnishes the classic account of this
site.
#%#
At least  manuscripts of the Latin
Tractatus
survive,
#%%
and not without
reason Le Go"
has called it a central text )texte d
cisifŽ* in the birth of purga-
tory.
#%+
Nevertheless )as we shall see* this carefully crafted product of Cistercian
orthodoxy is not without its fairy reverberations, and some of its spin- o"
s, both
in Latin and in the vernacular, appear even more elvish.
e popu lar
Visiones Georgii
, for instance,
#%0
which purport to rec ord the
experiences of a Hungarian knight called George Grissaphan, who visited
Lough Derg in , show him encountering Saint Patricks version of the wild
horde: he came to a certain open space where he saw coming towards him
two thousand knights, men- at- arms, soldiers, and noblemen, many of whom
had the appearance of soldiers and noblemen he had known in this lifeŽ
[venit ad quendam locum satis spaciosum, ubi inuenit sibi obuiam veniencia
duo milia equitum, hominum armatorum et militum et baronum, quorum
multi in e$
and populous city. Arthur is never named; he becomes merely a prince sur-
rounded by his menŽ [
principem suis circumvallatum
]. As in Gervase, the horse
is returned to the servant; and as in Caesarius, its owner is summoned to
appear at a later date.
tienne says that he got the story from an Apulian friar
called John )presumably a fellow Dominican*, and all indications are that
this version too was taken from oral circulation. 
e one major innovation is
that the mountain is here reputed to be the site of purgatory )ubi dicitur lo-
cus purgatoriiŽ*.
For Jacques Le Go"
, the di"
erences between Gervases and
tiennes ver-
sions epitomize a signi2
cant stage in the development of attitudes to the af-
terlife: the infernalizationŽ of purgatory.
##4
However, this deduction hardly
seems warranted. What ever literal infernalization there is, is restricted to Cae-
sariuss account )which Le Go"
does not discuss*; and if anything is being
infernalized in
tienne de Bourbon version, it is surely not purgatory but rather
fairyland. A clear survival of its suppressed original can be seen in the porters
warning quod caveret ne comederet de aliquo ferculo quod ei dareturŽ [that
he should beware of eating any dish he might be o"
ered]. So on his way to
fairyland, 
omas of Erceldoune is checked by the queen:
He pressede to pulle frowte with his hande,
Als mane for fude
at was nere faynt;
Scho sayde, 
omas,
ou layte
ame stande,
Or ellis
e fende the will atteynt.Ž
##5
e peasant who stumbles on a fairy feast in William of Newburghs
History
wisely refuses to drink from the cup he is o"
ered, pours its contents on the 1
oor,
and 1
ees: consulte noluit bibere, sed e"
uso contento . . . concitus abiit.Ž
##6
Returning to his homeland, Guingamor is warned by his fairy mistress, que
ne bevez ne ne mengiez / por nule fain que vos aiezŽ [do not drink or eat, how-
ever hungry or thirsty you are],
##7
for in Sir John Mandev illes words, no man
dar taken of that frute, for it is a thing of fayrye.Ž
#%8
e fairy world is hedged
about with prohibitions against eating and drinking, then, but it is not clear why
these same prohibitions should apply to purgatory. Evidently what
tienne is
really doing here is not rendering purgatory infernal but fairyland purgatorial.
e echoes of fairyland in these accounts of a Sicilian gateway to purga-
tory are even more marked when we turn to medieval reports of purgatorys
main entrance„on Station Island in the Irish lake of Lough Derg. 
Tracta-
tus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii
)ca. *, which describes the purgatorial jour-
Living in Fairyland
himself considers only the 2
rst and the last, and the inference he draws from
them strikes me as problematic.
e 2
rst is Gervase of Tilburys account of the Bishop of Catanias grooms
recovery of his masters errant horse from King Arthurs court in a hidden re-
made popu lar by such radical later twelfth- century works as the
Vision of Tun-
dale
and
St Patricks Purgatory
Fairyland and Purgatory
Jacques Le Go" s impor tant study
La naissance du Purgatoire
)* has hardly
escaped criticism: questions have been raised about its structuralist method-
ology; about the validity of both Le Go" s original binary order )heaven and
hell* and even the ternary one )heaven, purgatory, and hell* that, he claims,
superseded it in the late twelfth century; and about his rigidly nominalist
dating, which denies the possibility of purgatorys existence before the 2
rst
recorded use of the word
purgatorium
around the year .
#87
As long as the
possibility of an earlier date )perhaps as early as the end of the eleventh century*
is granted, however, many would agree that Le Go"
does indeed put his 2
ger on a genuine social and theological phenomenon, that the idea of post-
mortem purgation does take on a new importance in the course of the twelfth
century, and that a preoccupation with both the pro cess and the location of
such purgation does extend to a far wider audience. It is not my intention to
rehash any of this here or to try to follow Le Go"
into the thorny thickets of
Pa ri sian and Cistercian soteriology, but it does seem to me that there remains
something more to be said about the vernacular dimension of his birth of pur-
gatory. Le Go"
himself would certainly have been sympathetic to such a
venture, for he was quite ready to acknowledge that popu lar Celtic and Ger-
manic aspects of medieval culture contributed to the imaginary repre sen ta-
tion of purgatory, though he seems to have found the methodological prob lems
of disentangling them daunting.
##8
In fact AlanE. Bern stein, one of his re-
viewers, feels that the idea of a popu lar need for a third place . . . lying la-
tent in
limaginaire
Ž is implicit in Le Go" s study„as indeed is its corollary
that, embarrassed by this strong advance in folklore, theologians felt com-
pelled to purge the new concept, to correct popu lar tendencies with ortho-
dox teaching.Ž
While I would certainly not presume to try and rewrite Le
Go" s
grand r
cit
here, it does seem to me that some of its implications will
bear reexamination. Ingeld may have had nothing to do with Christ, but it is
harder to believe that Avalon had nothing to do with purgatory.
Evidence for such a proposition comes from three interrelated stories from
the 2
rst half of the thirteenth century. Le Go"
must have known all three,
since they are discussed by Arturo Graf in a chapter that he cites,
##%
but he
Living in Fairyland
signed to show that, far from being pleas ur able, participation in the
familia
Hellequini
involved excruciating torments for the souls of the departed. Like
Orderic Vitalis and Ekkard von Aura, then, Helinand regards the wild horde
as a penitential vehicle, and his view„ quoted verbatim in Vincent of Beau-
vaiss in1
uential
Speculum Historiale
):…*„ became the standard cleri-
cal one throughout the Middle Ages.
Not that all authorities were uncritical of it. William of Auvergne devotes
much of a chapter of
De Universo
to investigating the prob lem of substances
appearing in the likeness of knights and warriors hastening to battle and in
the likeness of innumerable armies )in all but name a discussion of the
familia
Hellequini
#8%
and in par tic u lar, the reason why they should appear in the like-
ness of men who were famous in this world and in this life )de substantiis
apparentibus in similitudine equitantium bellatorum, in praelium curren-
tium, in similitudinem exercituum innumerabilium . . . quam ob causam
in similitudines hominum qui noti fuerant in mundo isto, in vita ista?Ž*.
#8+
William toys with the idea that this activity is penitential: creduntur autem
poenitentiam agere in armis, quoniam in armis peccaveruntŽ [they are believed
to do penance in arms because they sinned in arms],
#80
but this solution clearly
does not satisfy him fully, mainly because he prefers to believe that such ap-
paritions are not actual mortal souls but merely demonic impersonations of
them. 
is certainly accords well with his idea of demons/fairies 2 ghting
among themselves„in an earlier chapter William had given a remarkably
Hobbesian account of their ceaseless war of each against all;
#83
but since he
regards them as both immortal and invulnerable to weapons, he can explain
their use of arms and armor only by suggesting that they are engaged in play
ghting, a kind of jousting or
hastiludium
„an odd activity for spirits doomed
carry ing jet black standardsŽ )p.*. 
ese knights resemble William of
Auvergnes demons, terrible in size, with arms and horses, and also with torches,
or 2
rebrands, or other kinds of 1
ameŽ [terribiles magnitudine armis et equis,
apparent eciam cum facibus seu faculis seu aliis ignibus],
and the knights, all
black, with burning, 1
aming lancesŽ [chevaliers toz noirs; et avoient glaives
ardanz et en1
ambez], who surround Perlesvauss sister in the romance of
Per-
lesvaus
tienne de Bourbon even supplies the vernacular term for them:
arzei
as if burning or 2
re- bearingŽ [
quasi succensi vel  ammigeri
quite
possibly this is a reference to the folkoric
feu- follet
or will- o- the- wisp. In view
of this, it would be certainly rash to claim that medieval people never associ-
ated 2
gures such as King Herla with death, or that when clerical texts por-
trayed the wild horde as a ride of the dead they always ran counter to popu lar
notions )indeed in the passage just referred to, Perlesvauss sister is sheltering
in a graveyard, and her 2
ery assailants are said to be the spirits of dead knights
who had not been buried in hallowed ground*. My point is simply that such
a view was not universal, and moreover that a realignment of the
familia Her-
lequini
with Arthurs Avalon o"
ers us a power ful expository tool.
If I am right, it becomes immediately obvious why Orderic Vitalis and
other clerical commentators should wish to pres ent the
familia Herlequini
in
the way they do. People could hardly be allowed to believe that Herla and his
followers )or King Arthur and his court* were living happily in fairyland, a
kind of secular travesty of Enoch and Elias, especially when they apparently
continued to enjoy the very pastimes )hunting, jousting, making war, even
making love* that had preoccupied them in this world. 
us the crowd of
armed knights that appeared in the vicinity of Worms in , emerging from
a mountain and apparently riding to a tournament, led the Bavarian chroni-
cler Ekkard von Aura, Orderics con temporary, to explain that their arms and
their horses were really a means of torture )materia tormentiŽ*, even though
it did not look that way )quamvis id vos corporalibus oculis discernere non
possitisŽ*.
#88
A hundred years later Helinand of Froidmont makes his own mo-
tive for denigrating Hellequin and his followers perfectly transparent. He
denounces Virgils description of dead heroes in Hades„ quae gratia currum
/ armorumque fuit uiuis, quae cura nitentes / pascere equos, eadem sequitur
tellure repostosŽ [the plea sure the living took in chariots and armor, the care
they took to feed their glossy horses, follows them when they are concealed in
earth] )
Aeneid
, :…*„as a false conjecture or a conjectural falsehoodŽ
falsitas opinionis vel opinio falsitatis
#8#
He then tells three stories, each de-
Living in Fairyland
esperis quilz appellent faes qui apperent es estables et es arbres].
Fi nally, when
the author of
Richard the Redeless
, referring no doubt to the
a cave, the disruption in the passage of time, the magical prohibition* could
hardly be more obvious )the parallels with the ending of
Guingamor
, for in-
stance, are particularly striking*. Moreover, Herlas house hold is not expiat-
ing its former sins; it su"
ers merely for breaching a seemingly arbitrary
injunction. 
ere are also clear indications that the story has an etiological
function„ sudden and violent storms being explained as the riding of Herlas
host across the sky, an ele ment that is certainly pres ent in other accounts of
Hellequin.
Fi nally, and most importantly, Herla and his companions are em-
phatically not dead. 
ey are held in a seemingly endless state of suspended
animation; death will come to them only if they dismount.
In order to adjudicate between these two accounts, we should begin by
recognizing that the legend itself prob ably predates them both, possibly by a
considerable time, and that any attempt to recover a hy po thet i cal original is
by now quite futile. Both accounts are, as Lecouteux recognizes, etiological,
and our task is less to decide which description is the more au then tic, but rather
which explanation„ one Christian, the other folkloric„is the more feasible.
Orderics near silence on the fairy question is inherently suspicious since
later Christian writers do acknowledge it, explic itly or other wise. William of
Auvergne, for example, moves seamlessly from a discussion of nocturnal ap-
paritions riding to battle to other deceptions of evil spirits which they some-
times practice in groves and in charming places with leafy trees, where they
appear in the likeness of girls or women in radiant feminine garmentsŽ [aliae
ludi2
cationes malignorum spirituum, quas faciunt interdum in nemoribus et
locis amoenis et frondosis arboribus, ubi apparent in similitudine puellarum
Living in Fairyland
with the dead. Orderic relates at length the story of a Norman priest called
Walchelin, who describes his encounter on New Years night in  with a
mysterious pro cession of knights, ladies, priests, monks, and commoners, like
the movement of a great army,Ž among whom he recognized many of his
neighbours who had recently died.Ž
At one point Walchelin says to himself,
Haec sine dubio familia Herlechini estŽ [Without a doubt this is Herlequins
house hold] )p.*. 
ere are two particularly striking features of this pro-
cession. In the 2 rst place, its members are solidly material: at one point
Walchelin grabs one of their horses by the reins and experiences an intense
burning )p.*, and at another, one of the knights seizes him by the throat
)p.*, leaving a scar which he carries to the grave )p.*. Second, all the
members of the pro cession su"
er penitential torments for their former sins: one
of the knights, for instance, tells Walchelin: 
e arms which we bear are red-
hot, and o"
end us with an appalling stench, weighing us down with intolerable
weight, and burning with everlasting 2
reŽ )p.*. 
ere is hardly anything in
Orderics account to connect this
familia Herlequini
with fairyland.
e other early description of Herlequins ride, written some 2 fty years
later, is from Walter Maps
De Nugis Curialium.
Here a Welsh king called
Herla encounters a diminutive Pan- like creature who predicts his future mar-
riage and then strikes a bargain with him: he will attend Herlas wedding on
condition that the king help him celebrate his own wedding a year later. 
is
creature, who is never named, turns out to be royal and shows up at Herlas
wedding with a splendid retinue bearing lavish gifts. 
e return visit, which
involves passing through a cave in a high cli"
Ž )p.*, is equally successful,
but when the time comes for him to leave, Herlas host pres ents him with a
small dog, with the instruction that none of his retinue is to dismount until
the dog jumps down to the ground. He returns to his kingdom only to dis-
cover that hundreds of years have passed. Inevitably, some of his com pany dis-
mount before the dog jumps down and are promptly turned to dust: 
King, comprehending the reason of their dissolution, warned the rest under
pain of a like death not to touch the earth before the alighting of the dog.
e dog has not yet alighted. And the story says that King Herla still holds
on his mad course [
circuitus vesanos
] with his band in eternal wanderings, with-
out stop or stayŽ )p.*. Later, Map refers to this band as phalanges noctiv-
age quas Herlethingi dicebantŽ [night- wandering battalions which they say
are Herlethings] or simply the Herlethingi familiaŽ [Herlethings house hold]
)pp.…*. In contrast to Orderics version, the fairy ele ments in Maps ac-
count )the foretelling of the future, the underground kingdom entered through
is brings us to one of the most di$
cult associations of fairies with the
land of the dead: the origins of the house hold of King Herlequin or King
Hellequin. During his ten- year sojourn in the wilderness, and just before his
meeting with Heurodis and her hawking party, Sir Orfeo witnesses three other
incursions from the fairy world. 
e 2
rst is a mysterious hunt:
e king o fairy wi
his rout
Com to hunt him al about
dim cri and bloweing,
houndes also with him berking;
Ac no best
ai no nome; )lines …*,
the second is a great army riding to war )displayed banners and drawn swords
were universally recognized as signifying hostile intentions*:
a gret ost bi him te,
Wele atourned, ten hundred kni
tes,
Ich y- armed to his ri
tes,
Of cuntenaunce stout fers,
mani desplaid baners,
And ich his swerd y- drawe hold; )lines …*,
and the third, which need not delay us here, is a band of knights and ladies
dancing )lines …*. In context, all three con2
rm the tendency of fairy
society to mimic its counterpart in the human lifeworld.
But from a di"
er-
ent perspective )and although these fairy bands ride by day and through the
woods, rather than across the night sky*, they are clearly manifestations of
the
familia Herlequini
or
la mesnie Hellequin
, a term which, as Claude Lecou-
teux has shown, might encompass a wide variety of disparate phenomena;
in fact, these par tic u lar examples comprise, respectively, the wild hunt )
die
wilde Jagt
* and the wild horde )
das wildes Heer
*, distinct motifs which are all
too often lumped uncritically together. While it is certainly not my intention
here to try to rationalize or reduce the vari ous phenomena comprehended in
the
familia Herlequini
, one generalization accepted by almost all authorities
)including Lecouteux*
does seem to me in serious need of quali2
cation: that
the
familia Herlequini
always and everywhere represented a troop of the dead.
e prob lem is that the earliest explicit reference to the
familia Herlequini
in Orderic Vitaliss
Ecclesiastical History
)s* connects it quite speci2
cally
Living in Fairyland
its truth exist.Ž
e German demonologist Johann Georg G
delmann )…
*, who says that he learned the story from the scholar Georg Sabinus )…
*, gives an even clearer illustration of how easily tales of fairy abduction
might mutate into ghost stories:
[Sabinus says] a man born to a noble family in Bavaria felt such
great grief in his heart at the death of his wife that he could accept
no consolation and passed his life in solitude. Fi nally, when he
could set no term to his grief, his wife, raised from the dead,
appeared and said that she had indeed 2
nished the course of her
life as assigned by nature once, and was commanded by God to
resume the way of life that she had long enjoyed up to that point,
but on this condition and stipulation, that her marriage, termi-
nated by death, should again be instituted by a priest in a solemn
ceremony, and that henceforth he should abstain from berating
people with the blasphemous words he had been accustomed to
employ, for she had been delivered to him for the sake of these
things, and she would be once more deprived of life when 2 rst
he uttered any word of this kind. 
ese things being done, she
returned to her domestic duties as before and even gave birth to
several children, though she was always sad and pale. After many
years, however, her husband got drunk one eve ning and angered by
a servant girl, uttered the words he was not supposed to speak; in
that moment [his wife] dis appeared from the little room where she
would go to fetch apples for her husband, and she left her gown, just
as it had been draping her body, like a phantom, beside the chest
where the apples were kept. Sabinus said he had heard these things
from many reliable in for mants who claimed that the Duke of
Bavaria had assured the Duke of Saxony that they were true.
e Christian in1
uence is far clearer in this story than in
Orfeo
: the woman
returns from the dead at Gods commandment, for instance )and then only
to teach a moral lesson*, and the resumed marriage must 2
rst be consecrated
by a priest. Nevertheless its fairy pedigree is unmistakable: the children of
this resumed marriage )in what ghost story does a revenant ever become preg-
nant?* and, above all, the inevitably broken prohibition )bizarrely moralizing
though it is* prove that this can only be a late reworking of an older fairy
motif.
For all that the traditional position seems to have been that those taken
by the fairies lived on in a deathless paradise, the notion )no doubt ultimately
plausible to both laity and clerics alike* that fairyland was really a land of the
dead came gradually to undermine it. Unlike Heurodis, Ydoine is explic itly
said to have been rescued from the dead:
Bien sav
s quil avint de moi
Par un mauf
que morte fui;
Par la grand prouece de lui
Sui venue de morte a vie. )lines …*
[You well know that a demon brought about my death; and by
[Amadass] great valor I have returned from death to life.]
One might have supposed it to be no less sacrilegious to bring ones heroine
back from the dead than to show her living on in fairyland: if Heurodis is no
Enoch, surely Ydoine is no Lazarus. However, this is one area where the lines
between the great and the little traditions can hardly ever have been clear-
cut. While some must have chosen to believe that their departed had been
taken to fairyland, others would surely have been prepared to accept that they
were truly dead. It is easy to interpret Sir 
omas Malorys famous account
of the death of Arthur as the work of a man trying to have it both ways, that
in accordance with the little tradition, like Layamon, he allows his king to
live ) Comforte thysel"
, seyde the kynge, . . . For I muste into the vale of
Avylyon to hele me of my grevous wounde Ž*, while at the same time, like
Gerald of Wales, he bows to the authority of the great tradition by having him
killed o"
) Ala[s]9 seyde sir Bedyvere, [th]at was my lo[r]de kynge Arthur,
Living in Fairyland
Another way to highlight Sir Orfeos ideological position is to contrast it
with one of its closest analogues,
Amadas et Ydoine
. Neil Cartlidge has claimed
that 
Amadas and Ydoine
is triumphantly subversive of the established order
of moral authorityŽ )p.*, but, if anything, such a judgment seems to me to
apply better to
Sir Orfeo.
Quite apart from Ydoines con spic u ous sexual pro-
priety )Amadas is allowed no premarital license, even when the couple 2
nd
themselves alone in a deserted graveyard*, the heros combat with his fairy
rival is couched in conventional Christian terms. 
e epithet regularly used
of the fairy knight is
mauf
)for example, line *, etymologically an evil-
fairy, but here unmistakably a demon:
Adont pense com gentil ber
Que, se dinfer tuit li mau"
Estoient illoec assambl
Naroient il, na droit na tort,
Le cors samie sans la mort. )lines …*
 en, like a wellborn nobleman, he thought that if all the demons
of hell were assembled there, they should never live to take away his
loves body, come what may.]
As with many such vernacular romances, however, the demonization of its
fairy archetype is only skin- deep. When the demon knight 2
rst encounters
his rival beside the tomb, he begins well enough, demanding to know, by the
God in whom Amadas claims to believe )par la foi que tu dois / A icel Diu
en qui tu croisŽ [lines …]*, what he is doing there; but only three lines
later he is himself repeating his demand in Gods name )de la part D
Ž*, an
imprecation that reassures Amadas )por ce se rasse
reŽ [line ]*. Like other
mortals encountering fairies )Partonopeu, for example, or Yonecs mother*,
Amadas is heartened to hear his adversary speak of God. In another departure
from Christian orthodoxy, Amadass demonic )and thus deathless* opponent
proves to be vulnerable and potentially mortal; Amadas wounds him in the
head and then cuts o"
his right hand, so that, weak from loss of blood, he is
forced to sue for mercy )lines …*.
Sir Orfeo
, by contrast, makes no obvious
accommodations with the dominant ideology, and compared with
Amadas
and Ydoine
the En glish poem shows itself remarkably unembarrassed in its
espousal of a fairyland ethos.
to liberate the poem from the sterile frozen state in which the unmastered imp
of interpretation would captivate itŽ )p.*; Alan Fletcher, writing of the
Living in Fairyland
encounters what appears to be a collection of corpses, some grotesquely
maimed, in the courtyard before the Fairy Kings hall )lines …*, such
an association is di$
cult to avoid. Many critics have found this passage deeply
troubling, and Bruce Mitchell even goes so far as to suggest that it is a later
interpolation on the grounds of its divergence from the overall tone of the
poem: all the evidence of the poem apart from the courtyard scene suggests
that the faery world is a pleasant place.Ž
Two facts are clear: * the collection
is made up of mortals who have been carried o"
to fairyland )Of folk
ider y- brou
tŽ [line ]* just as they were at the moment of their tak-
ing )Eche was
us in
is warld y- nomeŽ [line ]*; and* despite the fact
that these mortals appear to be dead )
t dedeŽ [line ]*, they are in
fact merely taking a siesta )Ri
t as
ai slepe her vnder- tidesŽ [line ]*. It is
natu ral to assume that men and women who have been beheaded, mutilated,
skewered, choked, drowned, and burned are dead, but the poet takes care to
assure us that they are very much alive: 
t dede,
& nare nou
Ž )line
*. Presumably they are also able to enjoy all the pleasures of fairyland since
at least one of them, Heurodis, has just returned from an elegant hunting
party. It is surely signi2
cant that while Orfeo had recognized his wife instantly
when he saw her out hawking, in the courtyard he could identify her only by
her dress )Bi her clo
es he knewe
at it was heŽ [line ]*. 
ese double-
images, then, look very like some form of 
omass abductee- and-
 gmentum
which are reported elsewhere in the British Isles
and )as we shall see* have
their parallels in late medieval Eng land. One explanation for their presence
onthe threshold of the fairy kings hall is that they act as a kind of test, a 2
nal challenge to those seeking to recover their loved ones from fairyland. If
so, Orfeo, undeterred by encountering the apparent form of his dead queen,
succeeds triumphantly: he demands his wife in ful2
llment of the fairy kings
rash promise and leads back to the world of mortals a Heurodis once more
made whole.
Several recent critics of
Sir Orfeo
have shown themselves aware of the po-
ems failure to accommodate itself to the tenets of orthodox Chris tian ity, and
even of the potential dangers of such failure; the elaboration of meaning in
other contexts and according to other codes,Ž writes Je"
Rider, was di$
cult,
dangerous, or at least problematic, because Chris tian ity was both hegemonic
and imperialist.Ž
Nevertheless the di$
culty we 2
nd in escaping such hege-
monic constraints, even now, has meant that these interpretations have tended
nd only indeterminacy, ambiguity, and even incoherence in the poem. Fa-
erie,Ž according to Rider, represents the force the artist must confront in order
a similar subterfuge. A somewhat di"
er ent solution to this prob lem is o"
ered
in the romance of
Amadas and Ydoine
. 
ere, Ydoine is given a ring by her
fairy suitor that makes her appear to be dead to those around her; his plan is
to take her from the grave, remove the ring, and carry her o"
with him, but
he is thwarted by the grief- stricken Amadas, who has mounted a guard over
her tomb.
Death is not the only context in which the stubborn materiality of bod-
ies left behind could pose a prob lem for those who believed in fairy transfer-
ence. True, the canon
Episcopi
had poured such scorn on the na
vet
of those
who believed that women were able to traverse great distances by night in
order to be pres ent at gatherings in honor of Diana that it was not until the
period of the early modern witch hunts that schoolmen were forced to con-
front the contradiction that those who were accused of being pres ent at sa-
tanic sabbats had been observed sleeping soundly beside their husbands all
the time.
It seems likely that such transvection was still popularly accepted,
however, as the 2
fteenth- century En glish sermon with which we began this
book implies: people believe, it says, that
Eluysche folke
possunt . . . alios pro
se dimittere et illos secum adducere ad
Eluenlond
Ž [can . . . leave others in their
place and carry )men and women* with them to El1
and].
e story about
Saint Germain told by
tienne de Bourbon shows how this prob lem might
beencountered in a slightly di"
er ent context.
e saint, visiting Britain to
combat heresy, lodges in a house where he notices his hosts leaving food out
on the table before they go to bed. Told that the Good 
ings often gath-
ered there and that it was not 2 tting to leave them unprovided for )quod bone
res frequenter ibi conveniebant nec erat dignum quod mensam invenierent in-
munitam cum a[limento]Ž*, Germain keeps watch and observes a great num-
ber of men and women assem ble at the table. He commands them in Christs
name to remain as they are until he gives the word )precepit eis in virtute
Christi ut sic starent ut erant usque ad preceptum eiusŽ* and then rouses his
fellow guests to come and look at them. On being informed that several of
them were well- known neighbors, he sends men to fetch the actual neigh-
bors to come and confront their look- alikes: Quod cum fecissent, viderunt
eos per omnia similes demonibus in eorum similitudinibus trans2
guratisŽ
[When they had done this, they saw that they were in every way similar to
the demons that were trans2
gured into their likenesses]. 
e fraud exposed,
the saint then banishes the demons for good.
ough Dorena Allen does not go so far as to employ 
omas of Can-
timpr
s simulacra to explicate the di$
cult passage in
Sir Orfeo
where the hero
Living in Fairyland
Even more remarkable are the two stories 
omas then goes on to tell of
the simulacra )his word is
 gmenta
* that demons leave behind so that the rela-
tives of those they have abducted, believing them to be dead, may bury their
corpses. 
e 2
rst account takes place in the town of Merchtem near Brussels.
A young man is on the point of asking for the hand of a local girl when he
learns that she has died of a fever, but to his amazement, while he is walking
disconsolately in the woods, he encounters the girl herself who says she had
been led there by a man. After taking her back to his house, he goes to her
parents and asks for her hand; they promise wryly that if he can bring her back
to life he can marry her, and they take him to see her corpse: Mox iuvenis,
cum relevasset linteum, quo cooperta putabatur, 2 gmentum mirabile, quale
a nullo hominum 2
eri potuit, inveneruntŽ [As soon as the young man had
pulled back the shroud with which she was believed to be covered, they
found a wondrous simulacrum, such as could be made by no human hand].
e young man subsequently marries the girl, who, says 
omas, is still alive
and well at the time of writing: usque ad tempora nostra incolumis perdura-
vit.Ž  e second story, which takes place in Flanders, is similar except that
the abducted girl is found wandering on the seashore by her brother, who se-
cretly brings her home and then, to every ones horror, proceeds to cut up his
sisters supposed corpse with his sword. 
is rescued girl too is said to be still
living. 
omas professes himself uncertain about how to take such stories )nec
in2
cior, nec con2
rmoŽ* and says that he had consulted Albertus Magnus on
the subject but that the great man was evasive and reluctant to commit him-
self )sed ille dissimulavit, noluit aliquid de2
nireŽ*.
What precisely, we might ask, does  omas intend us to understand by
these simulacra )
 gmenta
*? In the Merchtem case he actually o"
ers us a de-
tailed description of the kind of thing that was involved: Dicitur autem ab
his, qui 2
gmenta huiusmodi diabolica inspexerunt, ea esse interius putrido
ligno similia, levi exterius pellicula superductaŽ [It is said by those who have
examined dev ilish simulacra of this kind, that they are like putrid wood within,
and covered on the outside with a thin hide]. Despite the fact that it can be
paralleled elsewhere, however,
this account reads like a clerical rationaliza-
tion, for it is di$
cult to believe that adherents of the little tradition could have
supposed that fairies were really driven to so complicated an expedient. Fair-
ies were dab hands at shape- shifting, and for creatures that had no trou ble
convincing Sir Gowthers mother that she was actually sleeping with her hus-
band, impersonating the corpse of an abducted girl would have been a com-
paratively simple matter. After all, the whole changeling tradition depends on
ey have suddenly snatched the bodies of living people from
among men, as if for Diana, and, since deluded men have seen
those )who at home were thought to be dead* carried o"
by her
into other regions, they now believed them to be made immortal
and adjudged them to be numbered with the gods. And in just the
same way we have frequently heard even in our own day and age
that women, caught in the throes of death, were suddenly snatched
away, and simulacra put in their place by demons ) these same
simulacra closely resembled the stolen bodies* and buried as if they
were corpses; but afterward the women were seen, and consorted
with men.
omas 2
rst tackles the question of fairy abduction in general, citing an in-
stance given, he says, by Albertus Magnus in a disputation held before an un-
named Bishop of Paris )possibly William of Auvergne*. A daughter of the
Count of Schwalenberg was being abducted by demons for a certain period
of the night, and her brother, rather like Orfeo surrounding Queen Heurodis
with his
scheltrom
sought to protect her; though he clasped his sister to
his bosom and held her tightly in his arms )sororem suam in gremio,
brachiis eam fortissime strinxit, ac tenuitŽ*, she was still dragged from his
hands and rendered invisible and impalpable )de manibus tenentis invisibili-
ter incontrectabiliter tollebaturŽ*. Such an experience, says 
omas, was
quite likely to drive the victim mad, and those who were restored to the
human world would never be the same again. Orfeos description of Heuro-
dis after her 2 rst encounter with the fairy king,
Allas9
i rode,
at was so red,
Is al wan, as
ou were ded;
Allas9
i louesom ey
Loke
so man do
on his fo9 )
Sir Orfeo
, lines …*
is strongly reminiscent of 
omass portrait of such survivors: Quod quidem
referunt, qui viderunt, facies sic raptarum, quae pallide sunt semper macie
lividae, occuli magis instabiles, quam in non raptisŽ [Indeed, those who
have seen them say that the faces of women abducted in this way, which are
always of a pallid thinness, are livid, and their eyes less steady than those of
non- abductees].
Living in Fairyland
him as having experienced literal death. Magical it may have been, but the
land from which Reinbrun rescues his fathers friend is a land of the living,
not a land of the dead. Nevertheless it is not di$
cult to see how some of those
who were carried o"
to live in fairyland )rather than in a Christian version of
the afterlife* might have been thought of as dead by those left behind. Some
such economy must underlie a strange story found in a poem on the won ders
of Ireland from a manuscript of about .
A man, described as good and
truthful )
Reinbrun
, a coda to
Guy of Warwick
: the episode in which Reinbrun delivers his
fathers friend Amis from the castle of the fairy knight called Sir Gayere is related
with almost no interference from the great tradition. Passing through Mechel
ArderneŽ )the Ardennes* on his way back to Eng land from Africa, Guys son Re-
inbrun and his tutor Heraud arrive at Amiss castle, only to learn that its lord has
dis appeared while out hunting and that his grieving wife attributes this to the
enmity of a fairy kni
t herin is /
at is of meche mi
tŽ )stanza , lines …*.
e next day Reinbrun sets out alone to rescue Amis. He 2
rst passes through a
set of gates in a hillside and then, after riding in darkness for half a mile, comes
upon a splendid castle on the far side of a formidable river, which he manages to
cross on the back of his swimming horse„ a curious double barrier that is remi-
niscent of the ambiguous boundary of Gorre in Chr
tiens
Chevalier de la cha-
Living in Fairyland
Floriant and Florete are unusually lucky to 2
nd themselves united in fairy-
land. In a handful of romances, most conspicuously
Sir Orfeo
, a sojourn in
fairyland separates, rather than unites, lovers, and it is quite understandable
that the sense of loss that this generates should evoke thoughts of death. How-
ever, unlike Hamlets undiscovered country, the bourn that separates fairyland
from our own world is far from impassable. Nocturnal travelers )homeward-
bound huntsmen such as Maps Eadric the Wild or late- night revelers such as
William of Newburghs
rusticus
* might stumble upon a fairy feast and escape
unscathed; innocent children like Gerald of Waless Eliodor might wander
about in fairyland and return to tell the tale, while others, like Ralph of Cogge-
shalls Malkin, despite being taken there against their will, might expect to be
returned after a set period; even those who follow their fairy lovers into the
otherworld might make occasional return visits, such as Sir Launfal, or even
return for good, such as 
omas of Erceldoune. Certainly the passage into and
out of fairyland is perilous, and anyone seeking to rescue a mortal from the
clutches of the fairies must face daunting and di$
cult tests, but the fact re-
mains that for human denizens of the fairy world, even for Walter Maps King
Herla, the possibility of a return to this world can never be completely ruled
out. It is vital then that we distinguish between the extended life of human
beings taken to live among the fairies and the 2
nality of biological death.
Upto now,Ž says the inscription on a mysterious tomb in Chr
tien de Troyess
Knight of the Cart
, no one has ever returned [from the land of Gorre]Ž [
Nancor
nan est nus retornez
] )line *, but we would be mistaken were we to take
this to mean that Gorre is a land of the dead, for when Lancelot 2
rst defeats
Melegeant and rescues Guinevere, we learn,
Tel costume el pa
s avoit
Que, puis que li uns san issoit,
Que tuit li autre san issoient. )lines …*
[It was the custom in this country that when one captive escaped,
all the others were free to leave.]
Indeed the mysterious episode in the Christian graveyard )lines …*
seems to o"
er the possibility of the merciful relief of mortality to those freed
from the deathless clutches of Gorre.
e motif of a recovery from fairyland, typically suppressed and ratio-
nalized by Chr
tien de Troyes, is employed transparently in the romance of
 e Living and the Dead
As the story of Saint 
omas implies )non fui mortuusŽ*, we should be care-
ful about seeing fairyland, whether in Avalon or elsewhere, as simply a land
of the dead. King Arthur, to whom the door of death is believed to be closed,Ž
is emphatically alive, and indeed to claim other wise could apparently get
you into a 2
ght in twelfth- century Brittany. 
e point is made with par tic u lar
clarity in a late thirteenth- century romance called
Floriant and Florete
; Flori-
ant, a prot
of Morgan, is described as a con temporary of King Arthur and in
fact precedes him into Morgans safekeeping. In the 2
nal episode, set in Sicily,
Floriant 2 nds himself mysteriously transported to Morgans castle while out
hunting a white stag„ lured there, Morgan informs him, to save him from his
impending death:
Amis, vous dev
ez mourir
Living in Fairyland
Chaucers allusion to Wades bootŽ )
e Merchants Tale
, line *
 because the matter is long and fabulous, I passe it overŽ„ has caused gen-
erations of scholars to tear their hair out.
Onewyn, however, is even more
obscure.
He too is mentioned in
Widsith
)line *, where he is said to be the
son of Ostrogotha, and a late medieval chronicle alludes to a
Gesta Unwini
whose hero is among those who  were famous in arms and military a"
airsŽ
armis et rebus bellicis claruerunt
but other than this his exploits are entirely
lost to history. 
ere can be few starker reminders of how thin our knowledge
of medieval vernacular culture really is. Generations of literate clerics parrot
an ostensibly popu lar belief that Arthur is the main, perhaps the only, mortal
denizen of fairyland, and meanwhile here is a West Country Franciscan
calmly informing us that there were people who believed that there were
other heroes quite as ancient as Arthur )heroes whose stories we can only guess
at* sharing his refuge.
Needless to say, stories such as these were not approved of by the church.
Citing Gratian for justi2
cation, the
Fasciculus Morum
proclaims that  those
who believe in such things . . . are more faithless and worse than heathens,Ž
t to be cursed every single day by the servants of holy churchŽ )pp.…*.
Jean dOutremeuse remarks, Chest une chouse la sainte Englise najouste
point de foit; mais ilh le croit qui veut, et qui veut, ilh le laitŽ [It is a thing
that Holy Church puts no faith in; but let he who wishes, believe it, and if he
wishes, leave it] )p.*. Nevertheless it was not always pos si ble to insulate or-
thodox teaching from such beliefs, as the remarkable story of the appearance
of 
omas of Canterbury to support Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes
in  demonstrates: Also a certain boy, working in the Canterbury region,
had seen in his sleep the blessed 
omas rise up from his tomb. 
e boy asked
him, What are you doing, blessed 
omas, and how is it you arise now? I
believed you to be dead. I was not dead, the blessed 
omas told him, but
I rested in peace. But now it is necessary for me to rise up and 2
ght for my
homeland, Eng land Ž [Quidam etiam puer in partibus Cantuariae agens, in
somnis viderat beatum 
omam de suo feretro surgentem, cui dicit puer,
Quid facis, beate 
oma, qualiter modo surgis? Credebam te mortuum
fuisse.Ž Cui Beatus 
omas, Non fui,Ž inquit, mortuus, sed quievi in pace;
sed iam necesse habeo surgere et pugnare pro patria mea AngliaeŽ].
For some
people, it seems, fairyland contained not only King Arthur and King Herla,
or Wade and Onwyn, but 
omas
Becket as well.
)We shall see later how
such popu lar beliefs might spill over into orthodox accounts of purgatory.*
his old comrades; in the
Disputation Between a Christian and a Jew
, the dis-
putants encounter al
e rounde table goodŽ in fairyland,
and Lydgate
writes of How kyng Arthour, 1
our of cheualrie, / Rit [rides] with his knih-
tis lyueth in Fairye.Ž
tienne de Bourbon o"
ers the
familia Arthuri
as
an alternative to the
familia Allequini
when describing the mysterious troop
of huntsmen or warriors who were sometimes encountered after dark )we
shall return to Herlequins ride later*; he tells of a peasant who once encoun-
tered near
Montem Cati
)prob ably the
Mont du Chat
in Savoie* an in2
nite
number of men on foot and on horse back, et cum quereret ab uno illorum qui
essent repondit quod essent de familia regis ArthuriŽ [and when he asked
oneofthem who they were, he replied that they were members of Arthurs
house hold].
Gervase of Tilbury reports that such huntsmen were believed to
be of the com pany and house hold of ArthurŽ [
Living in Fairyland
that it was from that one that he had diedŽ )p.*. And the phrase fabulosis
exsu=
atisŽ [with fabled matters cleared away] is upgraded to  until those un-
true tales are abandoned and cease to be and have dis appearedŽ )p.*. 
portrait of Morgan the healer is darkened considerably; instead of a
nobilis
matrona
she is described as an old dame,Ž and the, admittedly ambiguous,
phrase
dea phantastica
is rendered as a goddess of the netherworldŽ )p.*.
Perhaps the most in ter est ing passage comes at the very end, where Geralds
Latin manuscript )damaged in the Cottonian 2
re* is defective: Arthur, says
the tract, enriched the church in Glastonbury, aided by the just judgment of
God, the one who rewards bountifully and without any doubt, every good
deed that is done; and that, not only in heaven itself but also on earth, both
the living and the dead, and after death in the life eternalŽ )p.*. Gerald,
and following him his Welsh apologist, leaves us in no doubt about what has
happened to Arthurs immortal soul, and it has nothing to do with some
kind of deathless existence, lived out in the com pany of a phantasmagorical
goddess on an outlandish Apple Island.
e earliest accounts of the British hope leave us with the impression that
Arthur awaits his return to this world as the sole mortal in a kingdom
populated by fairies, but later texts, some of which clearly re1
ect local tra-
ditions, imply something far more sociable: an Arthur accompanied by his
old companions in arms. Chaucer, for example, was evidently aware of a tra-
dition that made Gawain, with his olde curteisye,Ž Arthurs companion, for
though he were comen ayeyn out of FairyeŽ )
e Squires Tale
, lines …*
must mean that he too was an inhabitant of fairyland. In addition, accord-
ing to Jean dOutremeuses
Myreur des histors
, Avalon contained not only
Arthur and Gawain but also two other mortals; Morgan, he writes, oit deleis
of corpses posed a serious di$ culty )though not necessarily an insuperable
one* for those who might choose to believe that their relatives were still alive
in fairyland.
Walter Map tells the story of Triunein, the son of Gwestin Gwestiniog
and a fairy, whose body was missing after a battle between two Welsh kings
and who local legend held had been saved by his mother and was living with
her at the bottom of a lake; I think it must even be called a lie,Ž concludes
Map skeptically, for such a 2
ction could easily be in ven ted about a man who
was missing.Ž
While it may well be, then, that the monks of Glastonbury
were happy to curry favor with the En glish Crown by publicizing their new
discovery,
we need not assume that their motives were wholly cynical. 
ey
must have seen the belief of their credulous Welsh neighbors in a living
Arthur as a serious doctrinal lapse, a genuine threat to their hope of salva-
tion, so that it is pos si ble that by fabricating his tomb )if fabricated it was* they
believed they were doing Gods work, performing an action analogous to the
forging of monastic charters so dexterously defended by Giles Constable.
is is certainly the spirit in which Gerald of Wales, a lover of his country
and a man dismayed by the manifest
in delitas
of his countrymen on this
point, understood the discovery. His are by far the longest and most detailed
accounts of the exhumation, and he might well have hoped that their di"
sion would help to set his fellow Welshmen back on the true path and spare
them the mockery of men such as William of Newburgh.
ere exists, in fact, a tract in Welsh, drawn mainly from Geralds
lum Ecclesie
but with two interpolated passages from his
de Principis Instruc-
tione
, that was clearly intended to counter the legend of the British hope among
the people of Wales. Four manuscripts of this tract,
de Sepultura Arthuri
Regis
, survive )two of them postmedieval*; in the earliest )Aberystwyth, Na-
tional Library of Wales, MS Llanstephan *,
de Sepultura Arthuri
is bound up,
signi2
cantly )as we shall see*, with the
Visio Pauli
and
St Patricks Purgatory
e opening sentence sets out its position unequivocally: 
is is the informa-
tion of the books which is clearer than that which the brut says concerning the
end of King Arthur for the purpose of recognizing the truth concerning tales and
false imaginingsŽ )p.*. At a number of points the force of Geralds original
is heavi
ly underlined: for instance, where Arthurs skull is described as exhibit-
ing ten old wounds, only one of which seemed to be lethal )quodque solum
letale fuisse videbaturŽ*, the Welsh reads, In the bone of his head there were
sixteen wounds and each of those had closed and healed 2
rmly except one and
that one was open and it was an extensive wound so that it was undoubted
Living in Fairyland
implication is unmistakable: Arthurs Avalon stands as a direct contravention
of orthodox belief for the unwary.
When Gerald of Wales raises concerns about this same issue, he does so
in the context of the supposed discovery of Arthurs tomb at Glastonbury
around . As regards other aspects of fairy belief Gerald was certainly no
knee- jerk skeptic: he concludes a detailed account of the priest Eliodors boy-
hood visits to a subterranean kingdom„ where he learned, among other things,
that the fairies speak a language not dissimilar to Greek„by saying that he is
unable either to a$ rm or deny such things.
However, Gerald draws the line
at believing that Arthur can be still alive in Avalon. Before this discovery, he
writes scornfully in
de Principis Instructione
)ca. *, preposterous tales had
circulated that at the end Arthurs body like a sort of phantasm was carried
far away by some kind of spirits and became immune to deathŽ [huius autem
corpus quod quasi phantasticum in 2
ne et tanquam per spiritus ad longinqua
translatum, neque morti obnoxium fabulae con2
nxerant].
So too in his
Spec-
ulum Ecclesiae
)ca. * he describes Morgan as a type of outlandish goddess
dea quaedam phantastica
* and pours scorn on the overimaginative )
fabulosi
Britons who say that she has taken Arthur to Avalon to heal him of his wounds.
His greatest disdain, however, he reserves for the so- called British hope: they
expect that he will still come, just like the Jews with their Messiah, deluded
by an even greater folly and misery, along with their lack of faithŽ [ipsum ex-
spectant adhuc venturum, sicut Judaei Messiam suum, maiori etiam fatuitate
et infelicitate, simul ac in2
delitate decepti].
e opening of a grave reputedly belonging to Arthur by the monks of
Glastonbury around the year  has been much discussed. Despite ar-
chaeological evidence for the graveyards having been disturbed at about the
right period,
most historians have assumed that this exhumation was a
self- interested subterfuge, perpetrated in the wake of a major 2 re in the abbey,
either to win the kings favor or to attract visitors.  
ere is not much doubt,Ž
writes Richard Barber, that the co$
n and its contents . . . were produced by
the monks in order to raise money for the rebuilding of the abbey.Ž
e ar-
gument that Arthurs tomb would have constituted a tourist attraction seems
to me a weak one )Arthur and Guinevere were no miracle- working saints at
whose shrine grateful pilgrims might have been expected to leave o"
erings*,
but clearly the discovery raised serious questions about the British hope, and as
such may possibly have been welcomed by the En glish Crown. William of
Malmesbury had said that the absence of a body encouraged the Welsh in their
belief that Arthur would return, and )as we shall see later* that the materiality
the telltale phrase
si credere fas est
suggests that the author is aware of the in-
appropriateness of his own description:
uirgo regia uulnus
Illius tractans, sanati membra reseruat
Ipsa sibi; uiuuntque simul, si credere fas est.
[the royal virgin, treating his wound, saves the limbs of the restored
man for herself, and they live on together„if it is right to believe
it] ):…*.
For this Breton author, I suspect, pride in local tradition trumps even doctri-
Living in Fairyland
Nullaque uis morbi, nullus dolor, omnia plena
Leticie. Proprium nichil hic, communia queque. )lines …*
[Youths and the virgins dwell there forever with no shameful
blemish. 
ere is no old age, and no threat of disease, no sadness;
all things are 2 lled with joy. 
ere is no owner ship here, every thing
is common.]
And again, these are all qualities to be found in Peter Damians poem:
Cleansed of every blemish, they know no wars of the 1
eshŽ [Omni labi de-
faecati carnis bella nesciunt] )line *; 
e healthy are free of disease, the
young of old ageŽ [Absunt morbi semper sanis, senectus iuvenibu
] )line
*; and 
us individual belongings become common to allŽ [Proprium
sic singulorum commune 2
t omnium] )line *. Like its Arthurian counter-
part, Peter Damians paradise is imagined as a reward for the weary soldier
)though this soldier has been long warring against spiritual foes*, but there
the similarities end. Instead of Christ )the
palma bellatorum
*, it is a royal
virgin )
regia virgo
*, a most lovely nymph surrounded by her lovely virgins
)Uirginibus stipata suis pulcerrima pulcris / NimphaŽ […]*, who presides
over this paradise„ and this despite the fact that there is mention of a king,
and it is in his hall, the
aulam regis Auallonis
that the royal virgin tends to
Arthurs wounds.
What are we to make of this remarkable passage whose devotional echoes
can barely disguise its doctrinal heterodoxy? Indeed they might even be ar-
gued to accentuate it. 
ough the author was prob ably a Breton and says he
is writing only for a British audience )solis hec scribo BritannisŽ [:]*, he
is no obscure village priest composing in the vernacular like Layamon. His
work is written in the dactylic hexameters of the schoolman and dedicated to
a bishop. )Not that even episcopal rank innoculated one against such beliefs
of course: Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester )…* was fond of re-
counting how he had once encountered King Arthur while he was out hunt-
ing, and had been entertained by him in a castle deep in the woods.*
Elsewhere, however, the author shows a markedly greater interest in religious
matters than his source does,
and even as he describes the magical healing of
a man to whom the door of death is believed to be closed,Ž he dates Arthurs
arrival in Avalon to the 2
ve hundred and forty- second year after the Word
was made 1
esh without a fathers seedŽ [post incarnatum sine patris semine
verbum] ):…*. It is di$
cult to detect much irony here, however, and only
abundance of food is produced without any labor, the
memorabilis insula
of
the
Gesta Regum Britannie
resembles nothing so much as a vision of the heav-
enly paradise.
In fact the parallels with Peter Damians great Christian hymn
Ad peren-
nis vitae fontem
are so close that it is di$
cult to believe that the author of the
Gesta
is not consciously imitating it. 
Gesta
describes a land that winter never
chills and summer never burns )non nix, non bruma, nec estas / Immoderata
furitŽ [lines …]*, one that basks in a temperate climate where spring 1
ow-
ers coexist eternally with autumnal fruits:
Uer tepit eternum; nec 1
os nec lilia desunt
Nec rosa nec viole 1
ores et poma sub una
Fronde gerit pomus. )lines …*
[An eternal spring warms; neither blossom nor lilies are lacking,
neither rose nor violets. 
e apple tree bears blossom and fruit
upon a single branch.]
ese are also qualities that are pres ent in the heavenly kingdom depicted in
Ad perennis vitae fontem
Hiems horrens, aestus torrens illic numquam saeviunt;
Flos perpetuus rosarum ver agit perpetuum,
Candent lilia, rubescit crocus . . .
Pendent poma 1
oridorum non lapsura nemorum. )lines …*
[Shivering winter, burning summer never rage there. A perpetual
owering ushers in a perpetual spring: lilies shine, the crocus
blushes. . . .  e apples of the 1
owering groves hang down, never
tofall.]
So too the
Gesta
describes a land of perpetual harmony )pax et concordia
perpesŽ [line ]* whose inhabitants live free from disease and old age, expe-
rience no bodily desires, and hold every thing in common:
Habitant sine labe pudoris
Semper ibi iuuenis cum uirgine. Nulla senectus,
Living in Fairyland
Regum Britannie
to associate Avalon explic itly with fairyland is Layamons.
In a speech of great power, he has the wounded Arthur say,
And ich wulle uaren to Aualun, to uairest alre maidene,
to Argante
ere quene, aluen swi
e sceone;
heo s[c]al mine wunden makien alle isunde.
al hal me makien mid halewei
e drenchen.
And seo
e ich cumen wulle to mine kineriche
and wunien mid Brutten, mid muchelere wunne.
[I will journey to Avalon, to the most lovely of all maidens, to
Argante its queen, a very radiant fairy; and she will heal my
wounds completely and restore me to health with wholesome
draughts. And afterward I will come to my kingdom and live
among the Britons in great joy.]
At this point a small boat arrives, driven by the waves and containing two
women wondrously adorned; Layamon then describes how they laid Arthur
softly in the boat and carried him o" , adding, Bruttes ileue
ring to it, a medieval equivalent of when Hell freezes overŽ or if pigs could
y.Ž 
us, Peter of Blois describes Reginald Prince of Antioch, waiting vainly
for relief at the siege of Tyre: sed vereor nesic eam [gentem bellicosam] praes-
toletur, ut Britones Arturum et Judaei MessiamŽ [but I fear he awaited his
military compatriots, just like the Britons waiting for Arthur, or the Jews, the
Messiah];
moreover, Peter uses variant forms of the doublet
ut Britones Artu-
rum et Judaei Messiam
to express disappointed hopes elsewhere,
and this
phrase is also echoed by Gerald of Wales.
Joseph of Exeter says of the Lesbians
awaiting the return of the drowned Castor and Pollux: Sic Britonum ridenda
des et credulus error Arturum expectat exspectabitque perenneŽ [just so is
the laughable credulity and mistaken belief of the Britons who await the return
of King Arthur now and will always do so].
Even as far away as Italy )and be-
fore the end of the twelfth century*,  Arturum exspectare had become a pro-
verbial phrase for expecting the impossible,Ž
as when the Florentine Henry
the Pauper wrote, Et prius Arturus veniet vetus ille Britannus, / Quam ferat
adversis falsus amicus opemŽ [and that old Briton Arthur will arrive sooner
than a false friend would o"
er help to his rivals].
But something more than Celtic na
vet
is being mocked by Peter of Blois
and Gerald of Wales. John Gillingham has argued persuasively that we should
read Geo"
rey of Monmouths
History
against the background of a . . .
growing fashion for dismissing the Celtic peoples as barbariansŽ and that his
work is in essence a defense of Welsh civilization: Geo"
rey, in other words,
asserts not only that the Britons had a long and heroic history of migration
and successful war, but that they had long been civilized.Ž
From this perspec-
tive, the story of Arthurs return was a serious embarrassment, something
Geo"
rey was unwilling to broadcast too openly. 
e En glishman William of
Newburgh, for one, was not going to let him get away with it; his motive in
writing, says William, was a desire to please the Britons, most of whom are
considered to be so barbaric that they are said to be still awaiting the future
coming of Arthur, nor can they bear to hear talk of his deathŽ [gratia placendi
Britonibus, quorum plurimi tam bruti esse feruntur ut adhuc Arturum tan-
quam venturum exspectare dicantur, eumque mortuum nec audire patian-
tur].
How William relishes his crude pun on
Bruti
„ their very name showing
them to be uncivilized brutes9 But what, we might won der, is particularly
uncivilized )as opposed to naive* about waiting for Arthur to return? Unsur-
prisingly, the answer has to do with fairyland.
With the pos si ble exception of Geo"
reys own reference to the
aula nim-
pharum
on the Isle of Apples in the
Vita Merlini
the reworking of the
Historia
Living in Fairyland
Merlin has said. Merlin rightly said of Arthur that his death would
be doubtful. 
e prophet spoke truly; every age since has had
itsdoubts about the man, and I believe that they always
will„ whether he is dead, or whether he lives.]
Stories of Arthurs survival and future return were clearly circulating orally
even before Geo"
rey of Monmouths time. William of Malmesbury, writing a
dozen years or so before the relevant section of the
Historia
was composed, says
that, since King Arthurs tomb is nowhere to be found, old tales feign that he is
yet to return )adhuc eum venturum fabulaturŽ*,
and other texts suggest that
such a legend might count on 2
erce partisan support at the time. Hermann
of Tournai tells an amusing story about some monks from Laon visiting the
Cornish town of Bodmin in , one of whom fell out with a local man over
the question of whether Arthur still lived: a considerable brawl arose, many
armed men attacked the church, and bloodshed was only narrowly averted by
the intervention of a local cleric called Algard )unde non parvo tumultu ex-
orto, cum armis ecclesiam irruunt plurimi, et nisi praefatus Algardus clericus
obstitisset, paene usque ad sanguinis e"
usionem ventum fuissetŽ*.
A com-
mentary on the
Prophesies of Merlin
doubtfully attributed to Alan of Lille in-
dicates that such loyalties were just as strong later in the century: if you doubt
that men di"
er over whether or not Arthur still lives, says the author, try going
to Brittany and announcing in the marketplaces and villages that Arthur is
dead just like other dead men )more ceterum mortuorum mortuum esseŽ*;
should you manage to get away from there with a whole skin, at the very least
you will be assaulted by the curses of your listeners or more likely pelted with
rocks )si tamen immunis evadere inde potueris, quin aut maledictis audien-
tium opprimaris, aut certe lapidibus obruarisŽ*.
If this opinion was so strongly held at the time he was writing, why was
Geo"
rey of Monmouth )and following him, Wace* so reluctant to discuss it
openly? 
e usual explanation is that the early years of King Stephens reign
witnessed a resurgence of Welsh nationalism and that Geo"
rey was being care-
ful not to stir up further trou ble between the En glish and the Welsh,
but
this I suspect is at best only a partial answer. It is di$
cult to believe that many
of the En glish can have been seriously worried about Arthurs pos si ble reap-
pearance after a six- hundred- year absence. Certainly the very idea of Arthur
at the head of a fairy army is ridiculed in the poem
Draco Normannicus
In-
deed there is clear evidence that, at least outside Wales, the West Country,
and Brittany,
the skeptical view of Arthurs return had developed a proverbial
to re- establish the nation in its old state of peaceŽ )p.*. Merlin, however,
denies this as a possibility. Later he alludes to Taliesins story in terms much
closer to the account in the
Historia
: on that 2
eld the king was mortally
wounded [
Living in Fairyland
Nay, sure, hes not in hell9 Hes in Arthurs bosom, if ever man went
to Arthurs bosom.
„ Shakespeare,
Henry V
Arthur and Avalon
When Geo"
rey of Monmouth suggested that Merlin was the product of
human/fairy miscegenation, he put the cat among the clerical pigeons. Con-
fronted with a second potential clerical ga"
e, however, he showed himself far
more circumspect. In many ways the popu lar belief that King Arthur was still
alive and living on in Avalon would prove to be even more disturbing to cleri-
cal sensibilities, and the author of the
Historia Regum Britanniae
was quite
properly reluctant to broach this topic too openly; in fact, in the
Historia
he hardly goes further than making Merlin predict that Arthurs death will be
uncertain )exitus eius dubius eritŽ*.
While he does allow rather more space to
this question in his later
Vita Merlini
, even there Geo"
rey is careful to hedge
his bets. 
e bard Taliesin, after describing the Isle of Apples as an earthly
paradise, tells Merlin, It was there that we took Arthur after the battle of
Camlann, where he had been wounded. . . . Morgen received us with due hon-
our. She put the king in her chamber upon a golden bed, uncovered his
wound with her noble hand and looked long at it. At length she said he could
only be cured if he stayed with her a long while and accepted her treatment.
We therefore happily committed the king to her care.Ž
Merlin then laments
the disasters that have befallen the land since Arthurs departure, and Taliesin
replies, 
en our people must send someone to call on our leader to return . . .
pres ents the Christ child with a payre of my wyves ould hoseŽ ):* in or-
der to safeguard it from fairies? After all, we have already seen that mothers
sometimes placed in their cradles of
e fadur . . . sum preuy cloothŽ to protect
their babies from wicked wi
thes.Ž
#+7
Catholics certainly held no mono poly
on superstition )though Protestant polemicists such as Reginald Scot and
Samuel Harsnett may have wished to believe this*: the decline of civic drama
in the Kentish port of Rye seems to have coincided, as elsewhere, with the
increasing in1
uence of the towns puritan faction.
#08
But when rumors of
witchcraft circulated there in  )it seems that someone had been conjuring
fairies to help her 2
nd buried trea sure*, it was a prominent puritan, Anne
Taylor, who became the focus of the investigation. 
e threat that Christ the
changeling posed to those who sought to regulate early modern civic life,
in other words, had its roots in attitudes far more deeply entrenched than
anything speci2
cally propounded by reformation theologians.
is chapter began with my suggesting that the learned tradition remained
stubbornly silent about changelings throughout much of the Middle Ages, or,
at least, that only rarely did it pay direct attention to this popu lar belief. We
should certainly not conclude from the clerical elites apparent indi"
erence
that it felt such popu lar beliefs were little threat to its hegemony, however;
anyone seeking theoretical support for such an assertion can 2
nd it in the work
of the great Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci, one of the few theorists to give
proper weight to the subversive potential of folklore. Literary critics have been
much preoccupied with textual silences and the anx i eties they are held to con-
ceal, and I have tried to show here that a similar approach might pro2
tably be
extended to a reading of medieval vernacular culture. If we listen carefully, the
margins of medieval civic drama o"
er a rare opportunity for us to hear, how-
ever muted and indirect, the raised voices of the common people themselves.
Nowe reverence dose to meeŽ [lines …]*, and 2
nally Enock and Helyas
themselves die at Antechristes hands only to be revived seventy lines later by
Michael. As with other mystery plays, the stage directions can do no more
than hint at a farcical dimension to the actual per for mance: Tunc Michael
occidet Antechristum et in occidendo clamat Antechristus [
en Michael kills
Antechriste and, while being killed, Antechriste calls out] Helpe, helpe, helpe,
helpe9 Ž )lines f.*, and resurgens Enok and Helias ab antechristo [coesi] et
auditoribus status suos commonstrabunt [Enock and Helyas, having been
killed by Antechriste, rising up shall together demonstrate their state to the
audience]Ž )lines f. [
f.]*. 
eir speeches at this point )for dead I
was and nowe lyve IŽ [line ]* make Enock and Helyas sound more like the
heroes of a mummers play of Saint George than the central actors in a solemn
liturgical drama. Medieval fairies, after all, had their own version of the death-
and- rebirth 2
gure )think of
Sir Orfeo
or the opening scene of
Sir Gawain and
the Green Knight
*, and it is surely not too much of a stretch to imagine some
members of the Chester audience taking the
Antichrist
as a satire on the churchs
hypocritical proscription of nygromancyeŽ and a con2
rmation of their own
traditional beliefs.
Scholars who have linked the demise of the mystery plays in Eng land with
the emergence of a surveillant society have generally done so in the context of
the Protestant reformation.
#+0
)Even James Paxton, who cleverly opposes
sixteenth- century witch- hunting to the irreverent arti2
cial demonicŽ of the
mystery plays, makes this connection*.
#+3
However, it is all too easy to turn a
deaf ear to a much older set of oppositions. Richard Emmerson, after sum-
marizing the doctrinal di"
erences between Protestants and Catholics over the
question of the Antichrist, invites us to imagine how vari ous sixteenth- century
puritan audiences might have received the Chester plays,
but we can now
document the actual response of one speci2
c puritan, Christopher Goodman,
to the Chester
Antichrist
e man who objected to the pre sen ta tion of Enock
and Helyas and Antichrist to die rise againŽ also objected to magical de-
vices, to turning of trees upwards,Ž and to Elias blessing bread with the sign
of the crossŽ in order to expose Antechristes resurrection of the dead men as
a fraud.
#+5
Certainly, Goodmans list contains a number of theological objec-
tions, but not all his complaints are so easily pigeonholed. [T]he unreverent
speaking of the shepherds,Ž their foolish descanting . . . upon Gloria in excel-
sis,Ž and, above all, their vain o"
erings to move laughter to maintain Su-
perstition,Ž
#+6
these are hardly doctrinally motivated. And in any case, what
is so superstitious about the shepherds o"
erings? Can it be that Garcius
along with his brother Helye, who was after sent to mee,Ž and that the two
of them have come back to 2
ght this champion [Antichrist] . . . that nowe
in the worlde walketh wideŽ ):…*, can we be certain that none in the
audience would have been reminded of the once and future king of their Welsh
neighbors? 
e Chester
Or as Ranulph Higden puts it, as a man
at prophecie
is i- cleped a proph-
ete, so a womman
at prophecie
is i- cleped Sibil.Ž
#%%
Moreover in Eng land,
because of the episode in Geo"
rey of Monmouth where King Alan learns of
Cadwalladers approaching death, the Sibyls name was frequently linked with
Merlins: 
e king alein let
o anon in is bokes aspye / Bo
e of sybile
e sage
of merlines prophecye.Ž
#%+
It is hardly surprising, then, that Sibyls came to
be regarded as fairies; as Josiane Ha"
en writes, just like the medieval fairy, the
Sibyl lives at the edge of the human lifeworld . . . she has the gift of prophesy,
and she enjoys, if not immortality, a remarkable longevity.Ž
#%0
Unsurprisingly
fairies are given the name Sibyl in a number of French romances;
#%3
among the
fairy names of the gossips in
vangiles des quenouilles
)including Dame
Abonde and Dame Berthe* we 2
nd a Sebile des Mares,Ž
#%4
and Antoine de la
Sale conceived his
Paradis de la reine Sibylle
in terms of fairyland. Moreover )as
we saw in the last chapter*, Reginald Scot parodies a conjurers spell that is in-
tended to fetch vnto thee the fairie Sibylia.Ž So when the Chester Sibyl„
Sybell the sage, that well fayre maye,Ž as Nuntius describes her ):*„ tells
Augustus, I tell you sicker that born ys hee / that passeth thee of posteeŽ
):…*, there must have been some members of the audience to whom she
looked rather more like a fairy godmother than a Virgilian pythoness. If this
was how the playwright sought to bring the meaning of the nativity alive to
the less educated, then he was certainly playing with 2
re. 
e puritan ob-
server Christopher Goodman, who watched the Chester plays in , must
have thought so, for he complained that Sybill is brought in so superstitious
a manner as is not commendable.Ž
#%5
In much the same way, the appearance of Helyas in the Chester
Antichrist
)Play * may have provoked con1
icting responses. Again, the educated would
have had no di$
culty in recognizing the prophet Elijah and his traditional
role in medieval eschatology, but Elyas is also a common name in medieval
romance. 
e Swan- Knight, the
Chevalier au Cygne
)in his earliest manifesta-
tion, in
Dolopathos
, quite plainly the son of a fairy*, is usually called Helyas,
#%6
but the name also turns up for one of King Marks enemies, for one of the grail
keepers, and even, in Malory, for one of Morgan le Fays knights.
#%7
e prophet
Helyas and his companion Enock were celebrated for never having died )indeed
they furnish the answer to a widely circulated scholastic riddle: quis fuit natus
From this perspective, then, the real scapegoats of Caiphas and Annas
inquisition are the elves,
congeons, warlowes
, and
of popu lar tradition.
Maks tossing in a blanket is often represented as a humane alternative to the
gallows that awaited anyone convicted of stealing a sheep„ indeed it is this
quintessentially merciful act that lies at the heart of Simpsons theology of
labor„ but we should recall that Maks is no simple theft, that it has been
compounded by sorcery. Not only has he cast a spell on the sleeping shep-
herds, but he has also sought to transform their sheep into a child and then
tried to blame the elves for having changed it back. By tossing Mak in a blan-
ket, then, the shepherds are not merely thumbing their noses at the kings
law; they are 1
outing the church courts as well. In light of such evidence, we
might think of the elvish Christ of the miracle plays as representing folkloric
re sis tance to an increasingly authoritarian church as it sought to extend its
control over traditional practices and beliefs.
As a counter to a reading of the mystery plays 2 ltered through the ideol-
ogy of the great tradition, it is useful to try to imagine how they might have
been received by the
who must have made up a majority of their origi-
nal audience. Consider, for example, the Sibyls prophesy of Christs nativity
)Chester, *. No doubt it would have seemed unexceptionable to those edu-
cated audience members who had read of Aeneass encounter with the Cumean
Sibyl in
Aeneid
 )or more pertinently Virgils evocation of her in
Eclogue
*
or who were familiar with Augustines translation of the apocalyptic hymn
Iudicii signum tellus sudore madescet,Ž attributed to the Erythraean Sibyl.
Somewhat lower down the educational ladder, some laymen and women with
vernacular literacy could well have encountered support for Chesters story of
the Tiburtine Sibyls prophesying Christs birth to Augustus in any number
of pastoral works, such as John Mirks
or the popu lar
under the archdeacons jaundiced eye: Peter Idley claims clerical authority for
the assertion that conjuring )even
by thi Pater noster
* or doing
mervelous
werkis
)even
by hooly wordi
s* is plain heresy.
Reliable evidence from what
Lawrence Poos has called lower ecclesiastical jurisdictionŽ in 2
fteenth- century
Eng land is somewhat restricted,
##0
but nevertheless cases involving charges of
sorcery are not hard to 2
nd: the court of the Prior and Convent of Durham
heard six of them in a twenty- year period )…*, for instance.
##3
As we might
expect, such cases were not necessarily concerned with
male
: in /
two men, Robert Mabley and John Whitlamb, of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire
were accused of witchcraft for casting spells )presumably for good luck* on 2
sh-
ing nets )
incantando recia piscum
*, and, unsurprisingly, neither had any trou ble
nding neighbors to swear to his innocence.
##4
More pertinently, Marion Clerk
of Su"
olk was tried in  for employing the gracious fairiesŽ to help with her
healing and fortune- telling )as we saw in Chapter*, but in the same rec ord we
encounter three similar cases, only one of which was clearly concerned with
male
##5
In , when one Alice Hancock appeared before the bishop of
Bath and Wells accused of
sortilegium
for, among other things, claiming that
she could heal boys who had been touched or harmed by the spirits of the air
who are commonly called fairies [quod ipsa pro2
tetur se sanare pueros tactos
vel lesos a spiritibus aeris, quos vulgus feyry appellant], she was forced to
abjure.
##6
We cannot know what precise form was taken by the nigromancy
practiced by 
omas Hull in Hertford in , but it is in ter est ing to 2
nd
that his servant was forced to abjure as a potential heretic: I abiure and for-
swer all maner of heresies and errours, promyt that I shal never )in tyme to
come* yef ayde, help, sucour, nor favour, nor counsell to any that holdeth
heresies or vseth nigromancy in tyme to come.Ž
##7
Pop u lar opposition to such o$
cial harassment may well have been exac-
erbated by the conviction that clerics themselves practiced their own forms of
witchcraft or
gramerie
)think, for instance, of Chaucers Pardoners sholder-
boon of an hooly Jewes sheepŽ and his magical mitten that ensures a good
harvest*.
#%8
Ironically )the witches play judgeŽ*, in the N- Towns
Christ Be-
fore the Doctors
the First Doctor had earlier boasted of his skill in calculation
and negremauncyeŽ )p.*, and he is far from the only learned 2
gure to be
treated skeptically in the plays. In the Chester
Innocents
, it is a doctor who
advises Herod to undertake the massacre: Deeme them, lord, for to be dead; /
for that is best, as I eate breadŽ ):…*, and later on another doctor advises
the Antichrist on how to deal with Enoke and Helias: 
is is my counsell and
my reade, / yonder heretikes for to spillŽ ):…*.
As purveyors of justice, then, these medieval churchmen do not come o"
well, and as we watch their attempts to frame Christ„ With wicche- crafte he
fares withallŽ )York, :*; With wicchecrafte
is wile has he wroughtŽ
):*„we might recall that 2
fteenth- century Eng land witnessed a dramatic
increase in prosecutions for witchcraft and similar superstitious practices
##8
and
ask ourselves whether what we are seeing here might not be something like
popu lar re sis tance to the churchs increasing regulation of traditional culture.
Yorks
Christ Before Pilate \t
reaches its climax with a farcical interlude in which
the soldiers instinctively salute Christ as he enters the court by dipping their
standards: 
a, ther cursed knyghtes by crafte lete them croke [bow down], / To
worshippe
is warlowe vnworthy in wedeŽ ):…*. When they protest that
they have acted involuntarily, the enraged Anna and Caiphas replace them
with right bigg men and strangeŽ )line *, but all to no avail; Christs second
entrance not only produces the same result but even makes Pilate himself leap
to his feet: I vpstritt, I m[e] myght no
t abstene / To wirschip hymŽ )lines
…*. For Anna and Caiphas this is the 2
nal proof of Christs guilt, and to
Pilates admission that he fears to o"
end Christ, they reply:
Anna.
an oure lawe were laght till an ende;
To his tales if
e treuly attende,
He enchaunted and charmed oure knyghtis.
Cayphas.
Be his sorcery, ser, youresel"
e soth sawe,
He charme[d] oure chyualers and with mysche"
e enchaunted.
To reuerence hym ryally we rase all on rowe;
Doutles we endure not of
is dastard be daunted. ):…*
ese trials of Christ with their torture and brutality remind Simpson of Arch-
bishop Arundels examination of the lollard William 
orpe, but if any such
parallel is to be invoked, I cannot help wondering whether the legal harass-
ment of townsmen and women hauled up before the archdeacons courts for
sorcery and
sortilegium
does not provide a closer analogue.
In 2
fteenth- century Eng land witchcraft was rarely punished by death, and
certainly at a local level it seems often to have been treated with a consider-
able degree of leniency, but there is no denying the fact that o$
cial intoler-
ance of traditional practices was on the increase. 
e theology faculty of the
University of Paris in  had determined that it was an error to regard as
licit the use of magical arts for a good end [quod licitum est uti magicis arti-
bus . . pro quocumque bono 2
ne],
##%
and even white magic was now falling
should be put in a pleasant green meadow.Ž
#84
John Bromyards con temporary
Robert Mannyng says that some common people had so little grasp of the
basics of their faith that they were even unsure whether or not the Jews were
saved:
Ofte we here
e lewed men seye,
And erre ful moche out of
e weye,
at of
e Iewes seye sum oun
ey ne wote whe
ey be saued or noun.Ž )lines …*
#85
Some went even further; a list of articles in which modern heretics errŽ from
southwestern France around the end of the thirteenth century )possibly com-
piled from the rec ords of the inquisitor, and later pope, Jacques Fournier* in-
cludes the axiom that the law of Jews is better than the law of Christians.Ž
#86
Fournier reported a man as saying that one should not do ill to heretics or
Jews or Saracens, no more than to a person who worked well. It was a sin to
do ill to heretics, Jews and Saracens if they worked well and earned their liv-
ing.Ž
#87
I cite this remarkable statement because it brings to mind Simpsons
dramatic claim that the mystery cycles mounted a theology of labour at whose
center stands the practice of mercy in the active lifeŽ )p.*, since it is only
from some such standpoint, I believe, that we can fully understand the para-
dox of Christ the changeling.
e latent hostility of some of the cycle plays to institutionalized ideol-
ogy is not di$
cult to demonstrate. In both the Towneley and York cycles the
high priests Caiphas )the ponti2
call prince of all prestisŽ [York, :]* and
Anna are represented as unscrupulous canon lawyers seeking to convict Christ
in what is essentially a travesty of an ecclesiastical court. In the York
Christ
Before Anna and Caiaphas
, Caiphas begins,
By connyng of clergy and casting of witte
Full wisely my wordis I welde at my will,
So semely in seete me semys for to sitte,
And
e lawe for to lerne you, and lede it by skill.
er is nowder lorde ne lady lerned in
e lawe,
Ne bisshoppe ne prelate that preued is for pris,
Nor clerke in
e courte
at connyng will knawe,
With wisdam may were [defend] hym in worlde is so wise. ):…*
to embellishing the o$
cial play text )or RegenallŽ* with traditional ele ments
of their own.
While it is quite pos si ble, then, to rationalize the grounds on which a di-
dactic playwright might have chosen to pres ent Christ as a changeling, such
rationalization means closing our ears to the possibility of another, and po-
tentially more subversive, note. Recent criticism of these plays has begun to
move away from treating them as primarily dramatized pedagogy and to re-
store to them the long- suppressed voices of the little tradition. Perhaps the most
forceful statement of this position is James Simpsons: Typological instruc-
tion and devotional responsiveness cannot convincingly account for the proj-
ect of these plays; they are not, therefore, simple examples of the Churchs
instruction of the laity. 
e cycles are not instructional at all. Instead they
ered a space in which the members of many institutions could re1
ect on
their own practice in the active life.Ž
#8%
From this point of view, it is worth
wondering whether, when one of the cycle villains associates Christ with a
con-
joun,
an elf, a warlock, or a
he may not be reinforcing rather than
undermining traditional beliefs.
e radical shift, so well documented by John van Engen, in the histo-
riography of the medieval church that has occurred over the last few de cades
can now make the totalizing claims of Rosemarie Woolf andD.W. Robertson
seem to belong to a distant time before the
s taught us to see the
hollowness of an imagined Age of Faith.Ž Against Rosemarie Woolfs con-
dent assurance that Isaac as a type of Christ was part of the small stock of
knowledge which the common people might be expected to have received,Ž
#8+
we might set Keith 
omass contention that a medieval peasants knowl-
edge of Biblical history or Church doctrine was, as far as one can tell, ex-
tremely slight.Ž
#80
John Bromyard tells of a traveler who asks a shepherd he
meets whether he knows anything of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
I know the father and the son,Ž he replies,  because I look after their sheep,
but not the third one; theres no one with
that name in our villageŽ [bene,
inquit, novi patrem, 2 lium, quia oves illorum custodio, sed illum tertium
non novi, quia nemo est in villa nostra, qui tale nomen habeat].
#83

ere is no
reason to think that things had changed much two hundred years later;
here is a sixteenth- century report of a ministers interrogation of a respectable
parishioner on his deathbed: Being demanded what he thought of God, he
answers that he was a good old man; and what of Christ, that he was a to-
wardly youth; and of his soul, that it was a great bone in his body; and what
should become of his soul after he was dead, that if he had done well he
New Testaments comprehensible in terms that even the simplest member of
the audience might understand, and it is pos si ble to imagine that such refer-
ences were the work of enlightened clerics seeking to render the Christian
story in vivid and immediate terms. If so, these playwrights were not alone; a
parallel case is found in the way popu lar songs )some with obvious fairy allu-
sions* were picked up by medieval preachers. Siegfried Wenzel has persua-
sively argued that the haunting lyric Maiden in the mor lay,Ž which provided
the tune for a Latin hymn in the Red Book of Ossery and an illustration of
the Golden Age in a mid- fourteenth- century sermon, must have had its roots
in a 2
gure of medieval folk belief, perhaps some woodland or water sprite or
So too the lyric Sey me viit in
e brom,Ž
an exchange between a
woman and a woodland spirit [
O spiritus in mericis
survives in three manu-
scripts, all of them preachers collections, and another verse with strong fairy
overtones, At a sprynge- wel vnder a
orn / . . .
er by- syde stant a mayde,Ž
is preserved in a collection of exempla moraliter exposita.Ž
e prob lem is that once such doctrinally ambiguous 2
gures were brought
onto the stage there was always a danger that they might get out of hand. At
the end of the Chester Innkeepers play of
e Harrowing of Hell
)Play *, for
instance, after Christ has led the saved souls out of hell, a female brewer is
left onstage to boast of how she has adulterated her ale and wine and cheated
her customers. She is welcomed back into hell by Satan and two of his de-
mons )welcome, deare darlinge, to endles bale / . . . nowe thou shall have a
feaste9Ž [lines …]*, but there is almost nothing in the bare text„ other than
her lines 
erefore I may my handes wringe, / shake my cuppes and kannes
ringŽ )lines …*„to indicate that this was actually the occasion for a
popu lar game )whose precise details remain obscure* known as cups and
cans.Ž So well received was this game that the Innkeepers reprised it as their
contribution to Chesters Midsummer Show,
which is where we learn that it
involved a woman on a horse, two demons, gunpowder, and a lot of broken
crockery.
Likewise the Chester Butchers, who were responsible for the
Temp-
tation
)Play *, seem to have transferred the popu lar 2 gure of the dev ill in his
fethersŽ from their Whitsun play to the Midsummer pageant. In  the
Chester mayor, Henry Hardware the younger, a godlye, ouer- zealous man,Ž
attempted to suppress both of these displays )along with the Gyauntes,Ž the
dragon and Naked boyes,Ž and the particularly enigmatic 2
gure of god in
stringesŽ*,
#88
though his e"
orts were not everywhere appreciated: howsoeuar
the vulgar [or baser sorte] of people did oppose themselues againste the refor-
mation.Ž
#8#
As this incident proves, some Chester citizens were far from averse
Who caused him thus sone to reneye
e holy religion, the eld trew wey
Whech that oure faderes kept withoute mynd? ):…*
Capgrave works a particularly clever sleight of hand here: were there any dan-
ger that his audience might be tempted to associate the eld trew weyŽ with a
traditional belief in fairies, he completely short- cir cuits it by making this pa-
gan emperor treat Chris tian ity itself as a fairy fantasy; that elf, Jesus of
Perhaps the most dramatic employment of this motif, however, is Chesters
conception of the resurrection as the e"
ect of sorcery. In a late manuscript of
the
Cruci xio
)B.L., MS Harley *, Pilate releases Christs body to Joseph
of Arimathea with the direction, But look thou make no sigaldry / to rayse
hym up agayneŽ )lines …*,
and in the
Resurrection
Anna laments, 
is
foolish prophet that we all torent / though his witchcrafte ys stollen awayeŽ
):…*.
In such a context, what kind of cultural work should we suppose that
Christ the changeling is doing? Members of the great tradition who were ready
to hear the plays speaking with the churchs voice could certainly have found
perfectly orthodox ways of understanding this par tic u lar motif. From their
point of view the crazed rantings of a stock villain like Herod or the rustic
antics of such comic 2
gures as Coll, Gyb, and Daw convey an obvious moral
message. Only a monster or a simpleton, the argument might run, could con-
fuse the profound truths of the incarnation with so patent an absurdity as a
belief in changelings. No one but a fool could suppose that Christ is not
God- made- man, but a fairy casto"
slipped into the manger in Bethlehem as a
substitute for the real Messiah„an elvish godlinge,Ž a vile [conjoun].Ž In-
deed the author of the
Second Shepherds Play
, perhaps responding with indirec-
tion to the danger inherent in his subject matter, might be thought to have
gone one better: where Chesters Herod turns Christ into a changeling, Towne-
leys antitype of Christ, Mak, substitutes a literal sheep for the Lamb of God
and then tries to pass
that
as a fairy; Mak, in other words, would o"
er us a
changeling for a changeling. By this account the medieval audience is being
invited to recognize the fact that it shares its own unre1
ective assumptions
about fairies with monsters and crooks.
Certainly such a move can be seen elsewhere. At the end of Capgraves
Life
of Saint Katherine
, Emperor Maxentius forbids anyone to give her martyred
body burial. When he 2
nds that his friend Porphiry has disobeyed him, he
launches into a long tirade against Chris tian ity cast in precisely these terms:
My Porphirie, my knyth, thus is he lost,
So deceyved of witchcraft that he begynnyth rave.
Ten dayes I graunt thee or ellis twelve.
Leve this Crysten cumpany, forsake that elve
Jhesu of Nazareth„ He dede nevyr man good.
Both master and knaue,
Such wychcraft he mase. ):…*
However, a similar case could be easily made for York and Chester and even
the N- Town cycles. In the York
Christ Before Pilate \b
, Jesuss opponents repre-
sent his miracles as evidence of either sinister witchcraft or clever trickery. Anna
says,
Yha, thurgh his fantome and falshed and fendescraft
He has wroght many wondir where he walked full wyde;
Wherfore, my lorde, it wer lee" ull his li"
e were hym rafte.
):…*
Caiphas later adds,
e de"
e and
e dome he delyuered fro doole
By wicchecrafte, I warande, his wittis schall waste;
For
e farles
at he farith with, loo how
ei folowe yone fole.
):…*
Similarly, in the Chester
Resurrection
Anna complains, I sawe him and his
companye / rayse men with sorceryeŽ ):…*. A glance at the Infancy
Gospels might suggest how naturally Jesus was associated in the popu lar imag-
ination with such faring with ferlies.
At one point, for example, he makes a
dozen toy sparrows out of clay and then brings them to life and watches them
y away; at another he stretches a board that his carpenter father has carelessly
cut too short in order to make it 2
t the work ) there is a cruel parody of this in-
cident in the York
Cruci xio Christi
[:…]*. Pilates surmise, Yhis, his fa-
dir with som farlis gan fare, / And has lered
is ladde of his la[i]e,Ž is charmingly
ironic, then, just as Annas response, Nay, nay sir, [we wiste
at] he was but a
write, / No sotelt
he schewed
at any segge sawŽ ):…*, is obtusely literal
minded. 
e second witness in the N- Towns
Trial Before Herod
adds his voice
to this chorus:
a, be fals crafte of soserye
wrowth opynly to
e pepyll Alle
and be sotyl poyntys of nygramancye
many thousandys fro our lawe be falle.
Gills He was takyn with an elfeŽ might possibly signify that her lamb/child
is an actual changeling, since the phrasal verb taken with could mean taken
by in the 2
fteenth century.
A more natu ral reading, however, is that the
child is su"
ering a deformity or sickness caused by the elves. 
omas Elyots
Dictionary
of  de2
nes
Lamiae
as  women, wyche beholdynge chyldren, or
gyuyng to theym gyftes, doo alter the fourme of them, which children be af-
terwarde called elfes, or taken with the fayrye.Ž
Even so, this sickness may
still have been associated in the audiences mind with the idea of the change-
ling; the MEDs entry on elf- taken )s.v. elfŽ [n.] . [e]* cites two medical
texts, one of which appears to refer to the condition now known as failure to
thrive that was popularly associated with changelings: a chylde that ys elfe
y- take and may nat broke hys mete, that his mouthe ys donne [?doune].Ž
us
the phrase takyn with an elfeŽ )together with the sleight of hand that has
placed the sheep in the cradle in the 2
rst place and the explicit references we
have noted in the
Chester Plays
* implies that Gill may be here trying to pass
her own parodic Lamb of God as a counterfeit elvish godlinge.Ž
What are we to make of the mystery plays association of Christ with the
, and his 2 rst cousins the
warlowe
and the
e 2
rst thing to point
out is that this association occurs within a wider context of witchcraft and
sorcery in the plays. 
e signi2
cance of witchcraft, particularly in the trial
scenes, has long been noticed; in  John Gardner aptly described the Tow-
neley
Bu eting
as a burlesque witch trial in which Christ is viewed as witch
and the witches play judge.Ž
Here, for example, the two torturers attribute
Christs miracles to sorcery and witchcraft:
He rases men that dees„
 ay seke hym be myles„
And euer thrugh his soceres
Oure Sabate- day defyles. ):…*
and
Sir, Lazare can he rase„
at men may persaue„
When he had lyne iiii dayes
Ded in his graue.
All men hym prase,
To I haue done that I wyll,
Tyll that it be noyn,
at ye lyg stone- styll
To that I haue doyne. ):…*
Such circles are commonplace in manuals of learned magic: for instance,
Richard Kieckhe"
er describes one spell in a German grimoire that begins with
the magicians going to a 2
eld out of town and tracing a circle on the ground;
he then conjures vari ous spirits, one of whom he forces to bring him a cap of
invisibility.
Here, Mak needs the shepherds to fall into a deep sleep so he can
steal one of their sheep, and accordingly he recites a sleeping spell over them:
And I shall say thertyll
Of good wordys a foyne:
On hight,
Ouer youre heydys, my hand I lyft:
Outt go youre een9 Fordo youre syght9Ž ):…*
When the shepherds come looking for their stolen sheep the next morn-
ing, Maks wife, in one of the most celebrated scenes in the En glish medieval
theater, hides it in the cradle and tries to pass it o" as their newborn child )a
parodic nativity whose force cannot have been lost on even the most obtuse
spectator*. 
e trick almost works, but when it is discovered )What the dewill
is this? / He has a long snowte9Ž*, Mak and Gill make one last desperate
attempt to blu"
it out:
Mak:
I tell you, syrs, hark9„
Hys noyse was brokyn.
Sythen told me a clerk
at he was forspokyn. ):…*
 eir child, says Mak, has been bewitched,
and Gill elaborates:
Vxor:
He was takyn with an elfe,
I saw it myself;
When the clok stroke twelf
Was he forshapyn. ):…*
appropriate was Caiphass use of the term
for the
fatur
)line * who
has got him up in the middle of the night.
Another of the Towneley pageants that evokes this magical universe is
the
Second Shepherds Play
. Linda Marshall has argued that this play juxta-
poses the positive and negative typologies of Christ and Antichrist, using Mak
and Gills parodic inversion of the holy family to deepen the Christmas story
with darker eschatological overtones; Cain, she argues at one point, is a type
of the Antichrist )just as Abel is a type of Christ*, and she points out that Maks
name is literally an inversion of Cains„
)the Towneley spelling of his
name* written backward.
But more links Towneleys Cain with Mak the
sheep stealer than learned typological allusions; on a far more homely level
both are shown to inhabit a magical landscape, a landscape that over two
hundred years earlier Robert de Boron too had associated with the Anti-
christ. 
at Cain and Abel, only the second generation of humans to inhabit
a pristine world, should walk beside angels, and even God himself, is unsur-
prising, but Cains par tic u lar reaction to this magical setting is striking. When
the two brothers 2
rst fall out over their sacri2
ce, God calls down, Cam, whi
art thou so rebell / Agans thi brother Abell?Ž ):…*; and Cain responds
with the richly comic lines, Whi, who is that hob ouer the wall? / We9 who
was that that piped so small?Ž ):…*. For Cain, God is a hob, an irritat-
ing fairy intruding on his domestic peace.
e setting of the Towneley
Second Shepherds Play
darkens and obscures
this world„ literally, since the play opens at night in spytusŽ weather with
wyndys ful keneŽ ):*. Its unearthliness is evoked by Daw )the
tertius pastor
We that walk on the nyghtys,
Oure catell to kepe,
We se sodan syghtys
When other men slepe. ):…*
Mak moves about this world not merely as a thief and trickster but as a sor-
cerer: in a homespun anticipation of the last act of the
Tempest
, where Pros-
pero invokes the aid of elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and grovesŽ )..*
to draw a magic circle about the stupe2 ed Neapolitan courtiers, Mak binds
the shepherds in place:
Bot abowte you a serkyll
As rownde as a moyn,
Caiphas regrets the priestly vocation that prevents him from joining in to give
Christ a good beating:
Els myght I haue made vp wark
Of yond harlot and mare,
Perd
9 ):…*
Mare
, surviving in the En glish word nightmare )and in the French
cauche-
and the German
Nachtmahr
*, is, as we have seen, a very old term for the
incubus fairy that oppresses us while we sleep,
but despite the relatively few
entries for it in the MED, we need not suppose that it was a rare word among
the burghers of Wake2
eld, York, and Chester. When Robin Hood arrives in
nearby Nottingham disguised as a potter,
Yn the medys of the towne,
ere he schowed hes ware;
Potys9 Potys9Ž he gan crey foll sone,
Ha"
e hansell "
or the mare9Ž
hansell
)in French,
trenne
* was a term used of the 2
rst sale of the busi-
ness day, and evidently merchants were prepared to o" er generous discounts
and bonuses in order to enjoy the good luck that a successful handsel might
bring;
the vari ous superstitions that were attached to this handsel, however,
attracted the disapproval of the church,
and the
Fasciculus Morum
describes as
false, vain, and superstitiousŽ those people who believe in 2
rst gifts, which are
called years gifts or handsells.Ž
Robin Hood may have been a better outlaw
than a salesman, but as even he knew, one of these superstitions was that a good
handsel was an antidote to the
; from Peter Idley we learn that salesmen
commonly advertised their bargains with the cry of Away, the mare9Ž:
Metyng ne handsell causeth noo welfare,
Neither wicchecraft ne sorcerie, I the ensure;
Ne crieng among chepmen, away the mare9Ž
All theise be verrily the deuelis lure.
We may well suppose, then, that the guildsmen who mounted the mystery
plays, and who were in the habit of promoting the 2
rst bargain of their day as
a way to banish the night terror, would have fully appreciated how grimly
at this period. Fi nally, in the second Chester play a disgruntled Cain says to
his younger brother Abel )a common type of Christ*, Say, thou cayti"
e, thou
congeon, / weneste thou to passe mee of renowne?Ž ):…*. Once again we
nd
implying doubts about legitimacy, though in this freshly post-
lapsarian world what kind of alternative paternity might be imagined for Abel,
other than a fallen angel/fairy,
is unclear.
e motif of Jesus as a fairy interloper appears in the York and Towneley
cycles as well. In the York
Remorse of Judas
, the high priest Anna complains
of Jesus
at japerŽ:
He marres oure men in all
at he may,
His merueylis full mekill is mustered emelle vs,
at faitoure so false.
He dois many der"
e dedis on oure Sabotte day,
at vnconnand conjeon
he castis hym to quelle vs. ):…*
Notice that Christ is here called not just an ignorant
but also a
fai-
, an impostor, and is treated as an alien, an outsider, as well as a threat to
the established order. 
e epithet
here is of a piece with the
York Plays
regular employment of the term
warlowe
to refer to Jesus throughout the se-
quence of pageants dealing with his trial and cruci2 xion )Plays  to *. All
in all Pilate, Anna, Caiphas, and the servants and soldiers of Pilate and Herod
use this term no fewer than eigh teen times; Pilates What, wenys
at woode
warlowe ouere- wyn vs
us [w]ightly? / A begger of Bedlem, borne as a bas-
tard?Ž ):…* is typical. We should not be too quick to assume that
war-
lowe
)one of the more slippery terms in this general semantic cluster* means
simply a male witch; it could also refer to a spirit or an evil creature: Sir
Gowther, for instance, is described as a warlocke greyttŽ )line *, and after
his reclamation the pope promises,
Now art thou Goddus chyld;
e thar not dowt [you need not fear] tho warlocke wyld:
 er waryd [
cursed
] mot he bee. )lines …*
 is is an apparent reference to his demon/fairy father.
e Towneley plays never describe Christ as either a
or a
war-
lowe
, but Caiphas does use an in ter est ing analogous term of him. 
rough-
out the
Bu eting
Anna and Caiphas play at good cop/bad cop, and at one point
surprising in itself, since the word evidently belongs in a demotic register and
the mystery plays come closer than most other medieval literary genres to
preserving the 1
avor of common speech, but the context in which the word is
used
somewhat surprising: three times in the
Chester Plays
and once in the
York Plays
, Christ is called a changeling, and there is also an allusion to the
same motif )though the actual word
is not used* in connection with
Christs nativity in the
Towneley Plays
; furthermore in the
Chester Plays
, Abel,
a type of Christ, is called a
by his brother; and 2
nally, a related term,
, is used of Christ in the Towneley
Coliphizacio
e most dramatic of these instances occurs in the Chester
ree Kings
when Herod, alerted by the magi to the birth of Christ, reacts violently to
hearing the Doctor expound prophesies of the Messiah:
Alas, what presumption should move that pevish page
or any elvish godlinge to take from me my crowne?
Cast downe the sword.
But, by Mahound, that boye, for all his greate outrage
shall die under my hand, that elfe and vile [congion].
):…*
Here, what ever one makes of Dariuss letter in
Kyng Alisaunder
, is an indis-
putable verbal association of
conjouns
and fairies: Christ is an elvish godlingeŽ
and an elfe and vile
.Ž I hope the full signi2
cance of calling Christ a
 little fairy God and a foul fairy changeling will emerge later, but 2
rst I wish
to draw attention to three other examples. In the Chester
Slaughter of the In-
nocents
, Herod again refers to Christ as a vile conjoun; urging his soldiers on
to the massacre, he shouts,
Dryve downe the dyrtie- arses all bedeene,
and soone that there were slayne9
So shall I keepe that vyle [
congeon
that would reave mee of my crowne. ):…*
is term is echoed by one of his soldiers a few lines later: But for to kyll
such a conjoyne / mee shames soreŽ ):…*. In the course of the massa-
cre, Herods soldiers twice refer to the Innocents as
conjouns
„ manye a smale
congeonŽ ):* and  these congeons in there clowtesŽ ):*„ proof, if
any were needed, that the term was still 2
rmly associated with young children
ere is no possibility that
here is simply meant as an allusion to
Generidess unprepossessing appearance since he had earlier been described as
an exceptionally tall and well- favored youth )lines …*; the nature of the
insult does, however, help explain why King Aufreus )who
aware that Gener-
ides is his son* should react to his stewards insult by hurling a knife at him.
Still other uses of
seem intended to exploit its connotations of
incongruity, of something or someone out of place. In the earliest
South En-
glish Legendary
s version of the life of Saint Catherine,
for example, it is pre-
sumably the inappropriateness of a simple woman o"
ering to dispute with a
panel of learned men„ And me- self to desputy a-
eines heom:
at nam bote
a fol wencheŽ )line *„ that leads one of them to call her a
: Seie,
dame
conIoun
wat art
ou?Ž:
is o legistre seide, / 
enchest
ou speke a-
ein
ore clergie?: turne
t, ich rede9Ž )lines …* [Tell us who you are,
Dame
Conjoun,
Ž said one of the phi los o phers; Do you intend to quarrel with
our learning? I advise you to think again9Ž]. Interestingly, some later texts of
the
Legendary
change
dame
here to
, prostitute.
Similarly, in the elev-
enth passus of the A text of
Piers Plowman
, Dame Study turns on the hapless
dreamer: And now comi
a conyon wolde cacche of my wittes / What is
dowel fro dobet; now def mote he wor
Since she has just been fulminat-
ing against those laymen who seek to meddle in the mysteries of the faith„
For now is iche boy bold, he be riche,
To tellen of
e trinite to be holden a sire,
And fyndi
for
fantasies oure fei
to apeire )lines …*„
Dame Study is clearly attacking Long Will here for aspiring to knowledge that
is improper for him to possess; both Saint Catherine and Langlands dreamer,
then, warrant the epithet
because they are seen as impostors, illegiti-
mate substitutes for real clerks. Certainly not every occurrence of the word
in Middle En glish can be glossed in this way, but I hope that by now
enough has been said to show that when medieval En glish people used the
word, they were well aware of its root denotation changeling and were some-
times quite consciously exploiting this sense.
We turn 2
nally to one par tic u lar set of uses of
whose associative
resonances are particularly rich, its appearance in the En glish mystery plays.
Five of the MEDs twenty- one citations for
come from the York mystery
plays, and the
Chester Plays
furnish two further examples. 
is is perhaps not
[Merlin shook his head and laughed; he was 2
ve years old and he
spoke very boldly: Evil befall you, conjoun, you have spoken your
secret too loudly.Ž]
In other words, when his playfellow accuses Merlin of being a bastard,
Merlin goes one better, retorting ironically that
is a fairy- )or, more prob-
ably, a devil-* child. We might note that Merlins speech here is described as
beld,
or daringŽ„if En glish
is not perhaps as strong a taboo word as
its French cognate, it remains nevertheless a loaded term.
e medieval Alexander, like Merlin, was of dubious parentage, since the
magician Nectabanus in the form of a dragon had fathered him on Philips
queen, Olympias. Philip had exiled his wife after her in2
delity had become
public, and this scandal is clearly what Darius is referring to in his letter to
the young king in
Kyng Alisaunder
Darrye, kyng of all kynges . . .
Sende
gretyng wi
outen amoure
To a
onge fals robboure.
Alisaunder,
ou
wood,
Jn
e spille
i faye blood9
Pace Smithers, the texts editor, the word
faye
here seems more likely to mean
fairy )MED, s.v. faieŽ* than fated )MED, s.v. fei)eŽ* here: you crazy
con-
joun
, your fairy blood churns within you.Ž
e hero of the romance
is begotten by King Aufreus of India
on the fairylike princess Sereyne and brought up in secret by his mother. When
he reaches maturity, he sets o"
nd his father and is taken into ser vice in
the royal court, but he quickly falls afoul of the queen and her lover, the kings
steward. Although the vengeful steward is unaware at this point of Generidess
true parentage, the terms in which he addresses him are deeply ironic:
 e steward tho lift vp his staf,
And seid, thou mysproude quengeou
Whi answerest [th]ou not to my reasou
He drew him bi the here that stound,
And threw him dou
to the ground
at both mouth and noyse blede.
because of his cowardice in avoiding battle*,
but the other three are more
signi2
cant in that they all concern illegitimate birth. Merlins mother is threat-
ened with being buried alive for fornication since she cannot produce a father
for her son )
Of Arthour and of Merlin
follows Robert de Boron, rather than
Geo"
rey of Monmouth, in making Merlins father a devil*. 
e precocious
child )he is two years old at the time* defends his mother in court by turning
the tables on the judge„ Ich wot wele who mi fader is / Ac
ou knowest nou
ine ywisŽ )lines …*; he then reveals that her accuser is the son of a lo-
cal priest )line *. 
e judge responds by calling Merlin himself a
)line *, and the judges mother adds that no one but a
would be-
lieve him )line *. 
e 2
rst of these insults at least appears to confound the
true changeling with the related concept of the fairy hybrid, but the key to
this exchange may well be the understanding that priests bastards were often
passed o"
as fairy children, or more loosely, changelings. Medieval sources,
no doubt re1
ecting their clerical bias, discreetly avoid this topic, but in the
mid- seventeenth century, the Anglican bishop of Norwich, Richard Corbet,
wrote with gentle irony of the passing of the old world:
Lament, lament old Abbies
 e Fairies lost command.
ey did but change Priests babies,
But some have changd your land;
And all your children stolne from thence
Are now growne puritanes,
Who live as changelings ever since
For love of your demaines.
A little later in
Of Arthour and of Merlin
, the well- known story of Merlins
discovery by Vortigerns messengers shows Merlin himself using
de1
ect questions of legitimacy.  e messengers are seeking a child with no
fatherŽ for a sacri2
ce and overhear one of Merlins playmates mocking him
for just this shortcoming:
Merlin schoke his heued and lou
He was of 2
ue winter eld
And he spac wordes swi
e beld
Yuel
e bifalle
ou conioun9
ou hast yseyd to loude
i roun.Ž )lines …*
daughters; the aforesaid devil came down and made a
of
the woman to do all his will, by which means he had access to [the
family] and brought them to whining and brawling.]
is substitution seems to be only temporary, for after this
has given
the devil access to her children )
e Deuel sche tau
t hir bi
ateŽ [line ]*,
an action which results in her son being killed, the mother„ presumably the
restored 1
esh- and- blood mother„ commits suicide.
I certainly do not mean to suggest that
invariably denotes a
changeling in Middle En glish, for there are clearly contexts in which it seems
to function as a generalized term of abuse.  ere seems no reason to suppose
that the
cammede kongons
who cryen after col, col9 Ž in the lyric Swarte Sme-
kyd Smethes,Ž
for instance, are being characterized as changelings sensu
stricto. However, when examined in context, it is surprising how often uses of
the word
turn out to evoke issues of child rearing, fostering, and pater-
nity. For example, when a truculent young lord abuses Saint John the Apostle
in the Laud version of the
South En glish Legendary:
 Loke, he seide, 
is olde
conIoun: in his olde liue, /
at men holdez swuch prophete: alle o
ur men to
schriue9 / wel bi- tru1
ling from France,
a brief philological digression on its Middle En glish
precursor may be in order here.
Perhaps the strongest evidence for Middle En glish
conjeoun
s denoting a
changeling is a passage from the early thirteenth- century
Ancrene Wisse
Filia
fatua in deminoratione erit
is is Salomones sahe;
et hit limpe to ei of ow,
Godd ne leue neauer. Cang dohter i- wur
as mone i wonunge;
riue
as the
cangun, se lengre se wurseŽ ):…*.
In other words: Solomon says that a
foolish daughter shall be to his [her fathers] loss [
Ecclus
, :]; God grant that
it never happen to any of you. A foolish daughter is like the moon in its wan-
ing, she thrives like the
cangun
, the longer, the worse.Ž It is quite clear that
the
cangun
here is the typical changeling who, as in Jacques de Vitry, never
puts on weight however much, and for however long, it is fed. 
Ancrene
Wisse
s usage may well have under gone some semantic contamination from
the word
cang
)meaning foolishŽ*, a word which is etymologically quite dis-
tinct from it; however,
cang
was a far rarer word than
cangun
)indeed it ap-
pears to be restricted to the Katherine group, and later manuscripts of the
Ancrene Wisse
sometimes substitute
cangun
for it*, so there is no reason to imag-
ine that such contamination was widespread.
One of the most striking instances of the word occurs in
Of Arthour
and of Merlin
, since it con2 rms that medieval fairies could exchange adults
as well as children. When an envoy from a demonic conclave sets about
preparing a mortal woman on whom to engender the Antichrist )as we have
seen, Merlins birth results from the miscarriage of this proj ect*, he begins
by substituting a changeling for the wife of a rich man with a son and three
daughters:
Bi
at day was a riche man
at hadde to wiue a fair wiman
Bi whom he hadde a sone fre
And wel fair douhtren
re;
A forseyd deuel li
t adoun
And of
at wiif made a conioun
To don alle his volunte
Whar
urth in hem he had entre
And brou
t hem in chideing and 2
t. )lines …*
[At that time there was a rich man who was married to a beautiful
woman by whom he had a noble son and three very beautiful
Edward II was a fairy changeling: the fact that the queen was reported to
have been angry beyond words )maternal carelessness is a frequent feature of
changeling tales*;
that Powderhams real parents were apparently sent for
and questioned )a move that would have served to refute any putative sojourn
in fairyland*;
and the scandalized tone in which the
Anonimalle Chronicle
reports Powderhams claim:  People asked him how this might be, and he
told them how and in what manner„ which will not be put down in writing
nor repeated by meŽ [La gent li demaunderent coment ceo poiet estre, et il
lour dist coment et en quel manere qe pur moi ne sera mis en escripte ne re-
herce] )p.*. Signi2
cantly, Edward II seems not to have been the only royal
prince suspected of being a changeling. Henry VIs son Edward su"
ered a
similar calumny: whose noble mother susteynyd not a little dysclaunder and
obsequye [?obloquy] of the common people, sayinge that he was not the nat-
urall sone of kynge Henrye, but chaungyd in the cradell, to hyr great dyshon-
our and heuynesse, whiche I ouer passe.Ž
e vernacular term that those who believed Powderhams story would
no doubt have employed when referring to Edward II was
conjeoun
is word
had been in the language a long time; its form, with the initial velar stop /k/
)as opposed to the a"
ricate /
/ or fricative /
/* shows that it must have come
in with the Normans )Martin le Franc, a Norman, was still using this form
on the Continent in the 2
fteenth century*. Unfortunately the
Middle En glish
Dictionary
)s.v. conj
unŽ [n.]* completely obscures its primary denotation,
changeling, by glossing only its connotations: * A fool, a nincompoop; a
worthless person, a rascalŽ; * A person possessed by a devil, a lunaticŽ; and*
A dwarf or very small person, a brat.Ž 
is is like de2
ning bastard as a term
of abuse for a man or boyŽ and missing its root sense of one begotten and
born out of wedlock; an illegitimate or natu ral childŽ )OED*. Of course de-
rived senses can sometimes drive out the root sense altogether: the primary
meaning of idiot, for instance, a person without learning; an ignorant, un-
educated man,Ž has not been used in En glish since the middle of the seven-
teenth century, though examples of what must originally have been a subsidiary
sense, such as a person so de2
cient in
mental or intellectual faculty as to be
incapable of ordinary acts of reasoning or rational conductŽ )OED*, are actu-
ally recorded earlier than the root ones. Nevertheless it is not di$
cult to show
that, as is the case with bastard now, most people were well aware of
con-
jeoun
s original denotation throughout the Middle Ages. Since it has been
claimed that the 2
rst recorded use of the word changeling in early sixteenth-
century Eng land actually marks the arrival of the concept of the fairy change-
[Item, as the son of a fairy, I bestow on Master Lomer the gift of
being widely loved].
Villons older con temporary Martin le Franc seems to be using the word in a
rather less loaded sense in a passage satirizing the fashions of the nobility in
his
Champion des Dames
, but even here it is quite clear that
canjon
is no gen-
eralized insult.  e context makes it obvious that members of the nobility are
behaving like changelings because they are constantly changing their appear-
ance. Democritus, he says, used to smile at the follies of the world, but now
he would have to laugh out loud at the disorder and the dissoluteness of the
nobles apparel, which, just like the
canjon
, is always changing: En laquelle
mutacion / Les grans ensuivent les canjonsŽ ):…*.
e word
changeon
may make only rare appearances in France, but we
encounter a very di"
er ent state of a"
airs across the En glish Channel. Unlike
the word
itself, which is not recorded before the sixteenth century,
the Middle En glish cognate of
)early,
cangun
; later,
conjeoun
seems to have been a fairly common word )the MED gives twenty- one cita-
tions, and these could be quite easily augmented*.
Evidently no comparable
taboo operated in Eng land, but as the strange story of Edward II and John of
Powderham illustrates, that can hardly mean that the threat that changelings
posed to the patriarchy was any less real there than in France or Italy.
According to the
Lanercost Chronicle,
a man called John of Powderham
appeared in Oxford in June  asserting that he was the true king of
Eng land and that he had been switched in his cradle with the man who now
claimed to be Edward II. Edward himself seems to have regarded the whole
thing as rather a joke )the
Anonimalle Chronicle
says that he presented Powder-
ham with a fools bauble*,
but his council took a far more serious view of the
matter, and Powderham was hanged in Northampton at the end of July.
ree chroniclers ) those of Meaulx, Bridlington, and Oseney* sought to ra-
tionalize the story by implying that the switch was believed to have been
made by the royal nurses, but the vast majority saw the hand of the devil at
work.
We do not need a great deal of imagination to detect here the routine
demonization of a fairy motif„in this par tic u lar case, that of the fairy
changeling. 
Lanercost Chronicle
supplies us with a classic account of a
spirit who had appeared to Powderham in dreams )and once, while he was
walking alone in the country, in person* and had granted him riches, 1
eshly
pleasures, and other things he desired.
Moreover three details reinforce the
impression that what really lay behind Powderhams claim was the belief that
terms. 
is produced an outraged eruption from his irascible parent: You are
a bastard [
biscione
], or else you were changed on me at the font [
mi fusti scag-
nato alli fonti
].Ž
When the son turned away, his infuriated father stabbed him
in the back and killed him. Even if this is a calumny in ven ted by the chroni-
cler )he earlier calls Ordela$
, a per2
dious patarine dogŽ*, it suggests how
closely issues of fairy exchange were associated with questions of legitimacy
and how easily
might become a taboo word.
Most scholars, if they had to pick the one medieval French poet likely to
out such a taboo, would prob ably settle on Fran
ois Villon, so it is perhaps
unsurprising to 2
nd him writing in the
Lais
Harvard University, MS Riant , f. 
* and as
chamjon vel chanjon
)in Cambrai,
MS *.

ere is indeed a Francien word,
or
changon,
meaning
changeling, but in writing at least it seems to have been very rare. Godefroys
Dictionnaire de lancienne langue fran
supplies one instance from a letter of
remission of , and Tobler- Lommatzschs
Altfranz
sisches W
rterbuch
sup-
plies another from Villon; there is a third instance in Martin le Francs
Cham-
pion des Dame
Altfranz
sisches W
rterbuch
glosses
as
Wechselbalg
[changeling], but in some ways the words connotations are more in ter est ing
than its denotation; Godefroy glosses the  instance as a terme inju-
rieux,Ž while the
Franz
sisches etymologisches W
rterbuch
says that Villon is
using a word meaning enfant substitu
als schimpfwort
Ž [as an obscenity].
It is worth looking more closely at these instances. 
e 2
rst in par tic u lar
gives a vivid picture of the word in actual use.
e petitioner, one Jean
Rossignol, seeking release from prison, explains that he and William Tirant
had been playing cards together quite amicably for a pint of wine and that
after Tirant had lost, Jean asked to be paid his wine; thereupon Tirant, grow-
ing angry, had called him a
and other bad words )autres dures pa-
rollesŽ*, and Jean had replied that he certainly was not a
)il nestoit
point changonŽ* and threatened to do him an injury before he was very much
older. Accordingly, having discovered that Tirant had stored some goods in a
nearby house, Jean had helped himself to a piece of cloth )of equivalent value
to his pint of wine?* and was promptly arrested. Now, if a man in  felt that
the authorities would understand that being called a
might incite
someone to petty theft, we can hardly suppose that, in oral use at least,
was either a rare or an insigni2
cant word. How then do we explain the fact that
almost no one chose to commit it to writing? 
e obvious answer is that it must
have been a taboo word, rarely written down because of its shameful connota-
tions. 
ere is, in fact, a rather obvious reason why
should have ac-
quired this status in medieval France: in a patrilineal society, where doubts
asto paternity could have major consequences,
, like bastard, o"
ered
a serious threat to ones social standing. To call someone the son of a fairy
orperhaps, by this period, the son of a demon was evidently a very serious
matter.
ere is a dramatic illustration of this from the Italian
Historiae romanae
fragmenta
. In the late s, when the papal legate Gil dAlbornoz was besieg-
ing the ruthless condottiere, Francesco Ordela$
in the city of Forli, the chron-
icler tells us, Ordela$
s son Lodovico made a sensible appeal to his father to
give up his hopeless strug gle with the church and o"
er the legate honorable
expectations than a true re1
ection of the actual bricolage of folk custom. We
might for instance compare it with the following from late sixteenth- century
Hertfordshire:
Mary Pennyfather, of Hippollettes, hath a woman childe of the age
of fower yeares which could nether goe nor speke, whome she
caryed to 
omas Harden, because it is noysed in the country that
he is a wyse man and can skyll in many thinges, who tolde her
that the childe was a changelinge, but wold in tyme helpe her. 
next tyme she came unto hym he bade her to take a nutt and to
picke out the curnell and 2
yll yt with quicksilver, and to stoppe
the hole with waxe and to bynd a thred a crosse over the nutte and
to lay yt under a pyllow wher the chylde shoulde lye, and that
shoulde helpe yt. Her chylde having therby noe helpe, she repared
to him againe and then he bad her to sett the child upon a chare
uppon a dungell by the space of an houer uppon a sonny day,
which she did and the childe had no helpe.
Rituals designed to reverse a fairy exchange are often harsh or brutal, so it is
quite pos si ble that prohibitions against placing children on roofs or in ovens as
a cure for fever in a number of early Penitentials really refer to attempts to re-
cover changelings from the fairies;
if so, it is particularly in ter est ing that fe-
male children are sometimes speci2
ed )mulier, si qua ponit 2
liam suam supra
tectum vel in fornacemŽ*.
Of course the possibility remains that such children
were simply thought to be elf- shot, su"
ering from a sickness caused by fairies.
With
tienne de Bourbons holy greyhound, we have almost come to the
end of medieval scholastic accounts of changelings, but one allusion in the
Sermones Vulgares
of
tiennes pre de ces sor Jacques de Vitry directs us toward a
rather more intriguing line of investigation: the changeling in vernacular dis-
course. We saw that when William of Auvergne referred to changelings, he used
the term
cambiones
)clearly a Latin calque, not a vernacular term at all*, but
Jacques de Vitry brings us far closer to the living language when he compares
those who hear the word of God but fail to act on it to the boy [
puero
] whom
the French call a
whose breast- feeding exhausts many nurses but
who never thrives nor grows, but has a hard and distended belly, though his
body can never be induced to put on weight.Ž
Chamium
is the form of the
word given in Paris,B.N., MS Latin  )the copy text used byT.F. Crane,
de Vitrys editor*, but elsewhere it appears as
)in Cambridge, Mass.,
raised him was not his real father,
or the odd incident in the
Cheuelere
Assigne
when a boy called Aeneas, who is 2
ghting a judicial duel to vindicate his
mother and demonstrate his own legitimacy, is aided by an adder that springsŽ
from his shield.
We shall see that notions of the changeling were deeply
implicated with issues of legitimacy, and it is surely no coincidence that
aserpent- killing dog should become the patron saint of fairy abductees.
Here, then, is
tienne de Bourbons account of the ritual recovery of an
exchanged child as e"
ected by Saint Guinefort:
But the peasants, hearing of the dogs noble act and of how it had
died guiltlessly . . . visited the place, honoured the dog as a martyr,
prayed to it when they were sick or in need of something. . . .
Above all, though, women who had weak or sickly boys
pueros
] . . . would 2 nd an old woman who might teach them
how to perform the rite and make o"
erings to the demons and
invoke them, and who might lead them to the place. When they
arrived there, they would make o"
erings of salt and other things
and hang their boys little garments [
panniculos pueri
] on the
bushes round about; they would drive a needle into a tree- trunk
that had grown in this place; they would pass the naked boy
puerum
] between the trunks of two trees„ the mother, on one
side, held the boy and threw it nine times to the old woman, who
was on the other side. After a demonic invocation, they called upon
the fauns in the forest of Rimite to take the sick and feeble boy,
which, they said, was theirs, and to bring back to them their own
)whom the fauns were detaining*, fat and well, safe and sound.
Having done this, the murderous women
took the boy and laid
him naked at the foot of the tree on straw from the cradle; then,
using the light they had brought with them, they lit two candles,
each an inch long, one on each side of the childs head and 2 xed
them in the trunk above it.  en they withdrew until the candles
had burnt out, so as not to see the boy nor hear him wail. . . . If,
however, returning to the boy, they should 2
nd him still alive, they
would carry him to a certain fast- 1
owing river nearby, called the
Chalaronne, and immerse him in it nine times.
is ritual is suspiciously elaborate, more likely a composite account from several
witnesses melded into a formalized demonic rite conforming to Dominican
down haphazardly, just like twigs from the middle of a branch. His
face was wretched, more a mask than a face„as it were, a life
without vitality, a substance without form, a body without structure.
 e exhaustion of his essential 1
uids and an ugly desiccation )a
mere heap of bones* refuted his claim to humanity, but on the
other hand his wailings and his facial movements hinted at
something human.
Williams careful enumeration of these medical symptoms seems designed to
counter any possibility of attributing Augustines disease to super natu ral in-
uence, and indeed he inserts into the middle of it the pointed remark that
no one of balanced mind believes the fanciful absurdities of the common
people, who think that boys are exchanged or transformed [
pueri supponi
putat aut transformari
].Ž
Despite William of Auvergnes assurance that changelings were really dev-
ils who would vanish of their own accord given time, or William of Canter-
burys insistence that they were simply real children su"
ering from a medical
condition best left to the doctors )or to the intercession of a saint*, laypeople
evidently had their own ways of dealing with the prob lem. 
e only extended
medieval description of a ritual of recovery, discussed at length in a famous
study by Jean- Claude Schmitt, is found in
tienne de Bourbons story of the
cult of Saint Guinefort, the holy greyhound. 
e death of this faithful dog,
unjustly killed after defending his masters infant son from a snake, was the
subject of an ancient and well- known exemplum )it is one of the oldest tales
in the popu lar collection known as
e Seven Sages of Rome
but in a village
near Lyon in the early thirteenth century this dogs supposed tomb became a
site for performing a ritual to recover changelings from the fairies )
tiennes
term for them is
fauni
Schmitts study is so thorough that there might seem to be little left to
add, but I might remark in passing that exposing infants to snakes seems some-
times to have been regarded as a paternity test: And when
er childer war
born,
ai wolde put
ies serpentis in
e creduls with
aim, at
ai mot prufe
main characteristic, and that as a learned commentator he feels compelled to
explain them away as a demonic illusion visited upon the ignorant.
ough Williams account was to become the standard scholastic expla-
nation for changelings throughout the Middle Ages )it was reused by Ranulph
Higden in the mid- fourteenth century and by an anonymous German demo-
nologist early in the 2
fteenth, and was still being echoed as late as the
Mal-
leus Male carum
it leaves one gaping hole. If changelings are demonic
doubles substituted for real children, what then becomes of the original in-
fants? Where do they go? Folk belief, unlike scholastic theology, has no dif-
culty with such a question since fairyland is imagined as a real and potentially
accessible location, a place to which human children )and indeed adults* may
easily be abducted. But demons have no such hospitable homeland to which
they can carry o"
their prizes. Jean- Claude Schmitt has drawn our attention
to three saints lives, those of Lawrence, Bartholomew, and Stephen, whose
early scenes are evidently fashioned around a changeling motif„ though
Stephen only partially 2
ts the model since, after he is stolen from his cradle, an
gy )an
idolum
*, not a wailing, voracious demon, is left in his place.
How-
ever, following the theft, all three,
faute de mieux
, must then be abandoned as
foundlings to be brought up by ) human* strangers: Lawrence is left in the
woods, Bartholomew on a rock, and Stephen, with an irony apparently lost on
the hagiographer, on the doorstep of a bishop. In due course they will make
their way back to their birth parents and evict their usurpers, but this essential
period of exile in fairyland has clearly frustrated clerical attempts to provide it
with a simple and po liti cally correct topographical correlative.
Self- evidently, a medical explanation of changelings raises far fewer dif-
culties than a pastoral one does. William of Canterbury has left us a remark-
ably detailed description of the kind of disability that might be ascribed to a
fairy exchange in his account of 
omas
that changelings are overwhelmingly male;
and third, that accounts of both
the be hav ior of the changelings and the rituals performed to reverse the ex-
change are often associated with the production, preparation, and consump-
tion of food. 
e conclusion he draws from all this is that [the changeling]
was an extra mouth to feed, while at the same time, his illness deprived the
house hold of a worker. In that sense the illness indeed made an exchange: a
productive worker for an unproductive dependent. Legends of changelings
mapped that unarticulated exchange onto the articulated exchange of a super-
natu ral beingŽ )p.*.
e fullest medieval discussion of a belief in changelings is that of
William of Auvergne from the early thirteenth century. It comes at the end of
a lengthy refutation of those who credit demons with possessing procre-
ative powers, since William is keen to prove not only that demons cannot
interbreed with humans but also that they cannot breed among themselves:
I must not pass over the little children [
parvulos
] whom the
ignorant people call
cambiones
, and of whom the most ignorant
old- wives tales [
vulgarissimi sermones aniles
] report that they are the
sons of
incubi demons
substituted by the demons with women so
that they may be brought up by them as if they were their own
sons, for which reason they are called
cambiones
, from
cambiti
, that
is having been exchanged,Ž and substituted with female parents in
place of their own sons. 
ey say they are skinny and always
wailing, and such milk- drinkers that four nurses do not supply a
su$
cient quantity of milk to feed one. 
ese appeared to have
remained with their nurses for many years, and afterwards to
have 1
own away, or rather vanished. 
us I say that my earlier
pronouncement [about the inability of demons to procreate] needs
no modi2
cation: for it is easy for evil spirits to take on the appearance
of this kind of child and seem to be exchanged with humans,
whenever divine goodness permits things of this kind. . . . 
children of this kind seemed for so long almost to have drained the
breasts of nurses or consumed other kinds of nourishment was
therefore only a deceptive vision and not the truth, which is why
they vanished, leaving no trace of their former existence.
We should note that William regards changelings as predominantly male
 lii daemonum incuborum
], that he regards a voracious appetite as their
ing to thrive, by his teenage years he had grown to be unusually tall )a
gigan-
, in fact*.
Similarly, Tydorel, the son of a fairy, is unable to sleep )a
characteristic that accompanies him into adulthood*, but in other re spects he
is superior to his fellows. Many of Melusines o"
spring betray their fairy par-
entage with odd traits )one eye higher than the other, unusually large ears, a
tuft of hair on the end of the nose*, but only her last, the aptly named Hor-
rible, might possibly have been mistaken for a demon. Clearly, routine cleri-
cal demonization of fairies is responsible for the resemblance of Horrible to a
changeling: he was so euyl so cruel that at the foureth yere of his age
he slew two of hys nourrycesŽ;
and this is equally true of Sir Gowther:
Be twelfe- monethys was gon, / Nyne norsus had he slonŽ )lines …*.
In
the same way, Donegild in Chaucers
Man of Laws Tale
misrepresents her
daughter- in- law Constance as a fairy and her grand child as being so horrible
a feendly creatureŽ that no one could bear to be near it )lines …*.
ough
such hybrid children can sometimes be represented as ugly and malicious,
then, it is impor tant to distinguish them from true changelings, all the more
so since they
sometimes so confused in the Middle Ages and later. One
reason for this is that both changelings and hybrid children raised a similar
theological prob lem: dev ils, what ever other powers they may possess, cannot
be credited with the God- given ability to procreate, either among themselves
or with mortals. Another reason is that fairy hybrids, like changelings, might
raise di$
cult questions of paternity and legitimacy; however, since hybrids
were not necessarily insinuated into the family unit„ some )such as Gowther*
were, and others )such as Merlin* were not„ they posed a less immediate threat
to the patriarchy than did changelings.
e general functionalist account that a belief in fairies o"
ers an expla-
nation of happenings which apparently go against the natu ral and expected
course of thingsŽ
has been widely accepted by folklorists writing about
changelings, and a number of attempts have been made to identify the speci2
disability, such as failure to thrive, that might have led to a childs being la-
beled a changeling in the Middle Ages.
Given the nature of the evidence )even
for the post- medieval world*, such attempts can take us only so far, but John
Lindows skillful analy sis of the cultural pressures under lying changeling sto-
ries o"
ers a far more promising line of investigation.
Lindow makes three
impor tant points: 2
rst, that direct descriptions of changelings are almost always
made by educated observers who will inevitably attempt to explain away the
simple beliefs of the poor and uneducated )this is as true of some recent com-
mentators as of Carl Linnaeus, who examined a changeling in *; second,
with some bread and cheese or alternatively with its fathers underwear„ of
e fadur of
e childe sum preuy cloothŽ„ might indeed be construed as pro-
tection against changelings: we shall see that an assertion of the childs claim
on the familys food as well as a demonstration of its legitimate paternity
could both be taken to be ways of warding o"
such fairy predation.
A second situation that invites comparison with that of the changeling is
the child who has been elf- shot, that is, a=
icted with a sickness caused by
the fairies.
As with the changeling, elaborate rituals might be required to ef-
fect a cure for the elf- shot child. In the late sixteenth century, for example, a
twenty- year- old woman named Catherine Fenwicke deposed before the ec-
clesiastical court in Durham that her cousin had had a sick child and that
one Jenkyn Peresons wife had asked after it and suggested that the cousin
consult her about the child: And upon the same this deponent went unto hir;
and the said Pereson wyfe said the child was taken with the farye, and bad
hir sent  for southrowninge [south- running] water, and theis  shull not speke
by the waye, and that the child shuld be washed in that water, and dib the
shirt in the water, and so hang it upon a hedge all that night, and on the mo-
rowe the shirt shuld be gone and the child shuld recover health; but the shirt
was not gone, as she said. And this deponent paid to Pereson wyfe d. for hir
paynes.Ž
While it is certainly pos si ble that Jenkyn Peresons wife is here try-
ing to recover a changeling from the fairies, it seems more likely that all she is
really doing is seeking to appease the fairies who have caused the childs sick-
ness. So too we learn that as a child the Su"
olk cunning woman Marion Clerk
had had her neck twisted awry as a result of conversing with the elves and that
she had been healed by an old man, though no details of his healing rituals are
given.
us when Bernard Gui, the early fourteenth- century inquisitor, sug-
gests that suspected female heretics should be asked what they know, or have
known, or have done about boys [
pueris
] or infants who were
fatatis
[fairied]
or who had to be unfairied [
defatandis
],Ž
it is impossible to tell whether he
is referring to those who were imagined to be changelings, elf- shot, or simply
fated in some way.
Last, there are the o"
spring of mortals and fairies )the incubi of clerical
writers*. We have seen that the most famous of such medieval hybrids was
Merlin, but they were certainly not restricted to Arthurian romance. While it
is not uncommon for such fairy parentage to manifest itself in some kind of
physical abnormality, continual wailing, an insatiable appetite, and a failure
to put on weight are not typical symptoms. Matthew Paris reports that the
Welsh son of an
incuba
had all his teeth by six months but that, far from fail-
and 1
uctuating than languageŽ*,
and doubtless di"
er ent regions at di"
er ent
periods held a variety of attitudes toward changelings and ascribed vari ous
qualities to them. It is pos si ble to draw a fairly clear general picture, however.
Changelings are fairies who have been substituted for their human counter-
parts. Usually these are children, though adult changelings can appear.
Changeling children are generally unattractive, bad tempered, sickly, and
cult to raise; often a lapse in parental vigilance, or a failure to take the
proper precautions, is thought to have given the fairies an opportunity to
make the substitution, and this can then be reversed only by performing elab-
orate rituals. Later folklorists have recorded a number of explanations for
why fairies should wish to exchange their children for those of human par-
ents,
but such explicit rationalization is not found in works from the Middle
Ages.
Fairy intercourse with the world of mortals, in both the Middle Ages and
more recent times, could take many di"
er ent forms, and it is impor tant to
distinguish changelings from the participants in three closely related situa-
tions. One is straightforward fairy abduction. Fairies often abduct mortals„
generally speaking, adults such as Sir Orfeos wife )Heurodis* or Guingamor
or 
omas of Erceldoune„ but no living fairy substitutes are left behind in
the mortal world as replacements for them. 
e well- known account in Ralph
of Coggeshalls
Chronicon Anglicanum
of the human child called Malkin, ap-
parently stolen by the fairies when her parents left her unguarded in the cor-
ner of a 2
eld at harvest time, is sometimes cited as evidence for a belief
inchangelings.
Malkin revisits the mortal world )much to the chagrin of
herguardians* and converses with the family of Sir Osbern de Bradwell in
Su"
olk. 
ough generally invisible, she shows herself to one of the chamber-
maids in the form of a very small child dressed in a white frockŽ [in specie
parvissimi infantis, quae induebatur quadam alba tunica]. Her human na-
ture is manifest in her visits to a chapel and in her demands for food and
drink. However, while she does reveal that she has spent seven years in her
new home, and still has seven more left to serve, she makes no mention of
any fairy child left behind in her place, so that there is no reason to suppose
that we are dealing here with anything other than a simple abduction. We do
know that some mothers of childeren
at been new boren or
ai been cris-
tunnedŽ performed elaborate protective rituals for them  because of wicked
thes,Ž
but this evidence is not easy to interpret. One of these rituals, tying
the child to a stool or bench, need hardly be taken to imply anything more
than a fear of abduction, though others, such as placing the baby in a sieve
 at the Fairies would steale away young children and putt others
in their places: verily believed by old woemen of those dayes: and
by some yet living.
„ John Aubrey,
Remains of Gentilisme
In a  article in the
Journal of the History of Behavioral Science
,C.F. Goodey
andT. Stainton suggest that the concept of the fairy changeling had little, if
any, general currency in the Middle Ages, arguing counterintuitively that the
handful of surviving medieval references to the belief indicate that it was the
product of a learned rather than a popu lar tradition.
Tempting as it is for me-
dievalists to deprecate this amateurish foray into their terrain,
the fact re-
mains that though changelings abound in later folklore, they are indeed
something of a rarity in works written before . Even a widely read folk-
lorist such asJ.A. MacCulloch can write that the belief in fairy changelings
is not found as such in medieval rec ords.Ž
In what follows I hope to correct
the misapprehension that the idea of the changeling was foreign to the Middle
Ages, especially the vernacular Middle Ages, and also to explain why it is that
medieval rec ords, if not entirely silent on this topic, are often equivocal. In
addition I explore how popu lar notions of the changeling and similar fairy
ste reo types might be used to subvert expressions of o$
cial culture„ the
En glish mystery plays o"
ering a particularly rich source of evidence for such
subversion.
First, however, we must be clear about what we mean by a changeling.
It is always risky to assume that any folkloric belief ever takes on a single and
immutable form )folklore,Ž wrote Antonio Gramsci, is much more unstable
Incubi
Fairies 
Particularly striking is the inclusion of the Trinity in this invocation )paral-
leling Reginald Scots blood from Christs side*. While this might possibly be
construed as an instance of Carlo Ginzburgs cultural compromise forma-
tion,Ž
#+%
it seems more likely, given the esoteric nature of the document itself,
that the author is merely ventriloquizing the kind of magical discourse that
permeated much late medieval Chris
tian
ity,
#++
a reaction that Gramsci would
have found perfectly understandable.
Even more remarkably, spell  contains a set of instructions on how to
proceed after the conjuration has been successfully e"
ected:
is said goo to thy naked beed w
her but laye youe one to
[e]
Ryght syde lett lye one her lefte syde do w
her what soo ever
you pleasse or canste doo for w
doute shee is a woman
you needeste not to feare her for shee shall haue no power to hurte
the, beinge so bownde as is afore to the prescribed, nor the nether
thou never
?] in the lyf hadiste soo pleasante a creature or lyvelye
woman in beed w
the for bewtye bountye nether quene nor
empres in all the all worlde is able to countervaile her for I haue
dyveres tymes provede her haue had her w
me amen. )p.*
I have diverse times proved her and had her with meŽ: I can think of no bet-
ter illustration of the historically contingent nature of the unstable boundary
between fact and 2 ction nor any better way to satisfyC.S. Lewiss injunction
to try to imagine what it would feel like to witness, or think we had witnessed,
or merely to believe inŽ the
ferlies
of medieval romance.
#+0
I coniure thee Sibylia, O gentle virgine of fairies, . . . by the king
and queene of fairies, and their virtues, and by the faith and
obedience that thou bearest vnto them . . . by the bloud that
ranne out of the side of our Lord Iesus Christ cruci2 ed, and by the
opening of heaven . . . to appeare in that circle before me vis i ble, in
the forme and shape of a beautifull woman in a bright and [white
vesture], adorned and garnished most faire, and to appeare to me
quicklie without deceipt or tarrieng; and that thou faile not to
ful2 ll my will desire e"
ectuallie. For I will choose thee to be my
blessed virgine, will haue common copulation with thee.
#%7
It is all too easy to assume that Scot is simply having fun with the witch-
hunters here, that no one could possibly have taken such an incantation seri-
ously, but several apparently genuine spells of the same kind survive, and they
contain ele ments that evidently go back some way.
#+8
Since there could hardly
be a better illustration of the misogynist assumptions under lying the learned
demonization of the medieval fairy lover, we will conclude this chapter with
four such spells preserved on a late sixteenth- century vellum sheet in the
Folger Library )MS Xd *.
It is impossible to date these spells )they are certainly older than *,
but their male fantasies are timeless. Two of them )spells  and* concern ar-
ranging for sexual liaisons with fairies: heare followethe
e waye manor
howe youe shall call one of theese vergins of fayres aforenamed at onces vnto
thy beed when[e]vere thoue liste haue her at pleasuer.Ž
#+#

ere can be little
doubt that they were intended in all seriousness; there is no smoke screen of
allegory or irony here to confuse the issue. After a great deal of preparatory
mumbo jumbo, the crucial conjuration in spell  reads as follows:
I conniore
e blessed bountyfull virgynes all
e Ryall names
wordes afore Reacited, charge
e to apeare in this cyrcle vysyble
in the forme and shape of a bountyfull maide virgine befor
me in a grene gowne bewtyfule [
appar
]elle most fayreste to
be holde, to apeare quycklye pleasantlye w
Incubi
Fairies 
sibly demons, not fairies. Even so, despite the masculine assumptions and val-
ues that dominate it, its essential complicity with the fairy world meant that
the Middle Ages might still occasionally associate it with female prac ti tion ers.
Melior, after all, had gone to school to learn nigromancy )line *, and she
was not alone in this; so too had Niniene in
Lancelot do Lac
)Merlin was her
tutor*, the wicked stepmother in
William of Palerne
, and even Bertrand du
Guesclins wife, Ti"
any. Nevertheless this book- magic has little in common
with the predominantly feminine magic of the
lais f
eriques
, which draws its
nourishment from much deeper roots„ from the long- standing association
of fairies with the natu ral world, with the Dame Abundance whose cult so
alarmed William of Auvergne. Male wish ful2 llment helps to account for the
popularity of sexually aggressive fairy heroines such as Melior among con-
temporary audiences, but at a deeper level their appeal derives from their
enchantment of the natu ral world they inhabit„ though in real ity, of course,
fairies do not merely inhabit this world, they also exercise dominion over
it: Tyolet inherits from a fairy the art of catching wild animals merely by
whistling for them; and Melior gives Partonopeu a magic horn to take hunt-
ing with him. To o"
end the fairies )as happens with the rape at the beginning
of
e Elucidation
* is to risk turning this world into a wasteland; to submit to
their will )the lesson that Lanval, Guingamor, Graelent, and D
sir
all must
learn* is to enjoy wealth and plenty.
Nigromancy turns this world on its head. As Michael Bailey has argued,
by making female magic appear passive, by privileging masculine intellectual
strivingŽ over feminine susceptibility to temptation,Ž
#%5
it promotes a pro cess
of demonization that will contribute to the witch- hunting mentality of the
early modern period. A pro cess whose beginnings can already be detected in
the late twelfth- century
Partonopeu
is well advanced in the 2
fteenth- century
En glish
Partonope
. From the moment that nigromancy is employed against
her, Melior becomes powerless, no longer agent but patient, fearful that the
sexuality that was once the source of her potency must now be her undoing.
Reginald Scot, a great debunker of all things numinous, writing of nec-
romancers or conjurers in , explains that  these are no small fooles, they
go not to worke with a baggage [
nast
y] tode, or a cat, as witches doo; but with
a kind of majestie, and with authoritie they call vp by name . . . seventie and
nine principall princelie diuels.Ž
#%6
It is hardly surprising then that we should
be able to detect a strong sexist bias in their activities or discover, for instance,
that their stock in trade should have included a spell to fetch vnto thee the
fairie SibyliaŽ:
air, should be tricked by a simple magic lantern rings rather hollow. More dis-
turbing is the way the romance departs at this point from the traditional
pattern we have seen in the other
lais f
eriques
. In the typical lai it is only at
the moment when the hero breaks his fairy lovers prohibition that her full
power becomes manifest; he falls entirely under her control and sometimes,
as in
Lanval
, his very life is at stake. In
Partonopeu
, by contrast, the breaking
of the prohibition leads to Melior losing all her magic powers, becoming in
ect the standard courtly mistress, angry and resentful but bound entirely
by the traditions of
n amour
. As a result the air seems to go out of the poem„
the second half is far more orthodox than the 2 rst. From a power ful and
seductive woman Melior is reduced to a bland and passive romance heroine,
forced to await the outcome of a tournament to discover whether she can o"
her hand to Partonope. Indeed at one point she launches into a lengthy ex-
cursus on the powerlessness of women to follow their own inclinations:
And yite [I] wote, if I shuld hym sewe,
at were a thing done of
e newe,
For womanhode wole not
at it be so. )lines …*
#%0
Dynastic and theocratic pressures have transformed Melior from a Triamour
into an Emilye.
But that is not quite the whole story; Partonopes
mothers employment
of magic arts against her sons lover changes the rules of the game in a way
that is particularly appropriate to this member of the garants de la
doxa
,Ž as
Gingras calls her )p.*. 
is is even clearer in the 2
fteenth- century En glish
translation, which di"
ers from its twelfth- century original in both the fre-
quency with which Melior repeats her prohibition and the speci2
c terms in
which she frames it. Partonopeu, says the original, must inquire after no skill
)par vos ne soit
quisŽ or ne soit
quiseŽ* by which she might be
seen,
#%3
but in En glish this skill is explic itly spelled out as nigromancy :
And o thyng, my loue, y praye yowe
at yn no wyse ye ne besy yowe howe
By cra"
te of nygromansy me to see.
For it wolle be for yowr worse be. )lines …; cf. line *
Nigromancy is of course a learned discipline, a creature of the great tradition;
its ethos is predominantly masculine,
#%4
and the spirits it deals with are osten-
Incubi
Fairies 
In Arderne a- monge
e wylde bestes,
er drewe to hym a
ynge of "
eyre,
As
owe hyt had ben a woman or a ladye.Ž )lines …*
e disenchantment that the poet attempts to e"
ect under these circumstances
is far more transparent than anything in Chr
tien de Troyes. It turns out that in
real ity she is no fairy but rather, as she tells Partonope after he has broken her pro-
hibition, the only child of the Emperor of Constantinople educated in the seven
liberal arts, in medicine, and in divinity. [T]o Nygromancy sette I was,Ž she
says, 
en I lerned Enchawntemente[s], / To knowe
e crafte of experimente[s]Ž
)lines …*. She is, in other words, a sorceress, and every thing„ the ship, the
marvelous land, the invisible servants„ were all an illusion.
e author of the non- cyclic
Lancelot
works the same trick )indeed he
may well have learned it from
Partonopeu
*, but his sleight of hand is no more
convincing in the case of the Lady of the Lake )who, as Elspeth Kennedy puts
it, is a fairy by education, not by nature or heredityŽ*
#%8
than in Meliors.
#%#
Similarly, Chaucers Franklin, a male narrator, it should be noted, substitutes
magyk natureelŽ for the fairy enchantment we should normally expect to 2
nd
opas, setting out to 2
nd himself an elf-
queeneŽ to slepe under [his] gooreŽ
)lines …*, be fully appreciated.
Perhaps the most fascinating romance from this point of view is
Partonopeu
de Blois
)written in the early s*,
##5
together with its mid- 2
fteenth- century
En glish translation.
##6
e plot, at least up to the breaking of the prohibition,
follows closely the pattern of the Breton lais that we have been considering
Lanval
in par tic u lar*, though it is developed at a far more leisurely pace. Parto-
nope is carried in a boat, manned by an invisible crew )as in Marie de Frances
Guigamer
*, to a handsome city set in a fertile and prosperous landscape and
dominated by a splendid castle, but nowhere does he see any inhabitants. After
ne supper, served by invisible attendants, he retires to bed, where he is visited
by an invisible lady who, after an extended exchange, grants him her sexual
favors.
##7
e prohibition is an odd one: he is to make no attempt to pierce her
veil of invisibility for two and a half years. In return the lady, whose name is
Melior, gives him the run of her castle; supplies him with clothing, food, and
drink„ Whatte he wolde haue, a- none was fetteŽ )line *„ and leaves him
his days free to be passed in hunting and hawking. Each night he spends in
Meliors bed:
He made hym redy wyth- owte moo
Streyte in-to
e bedde to goo
And when he was in bedde layde,
Sone aftyr, wyth- In a lytelle brayde,
Comethe his ladye fayre and "
re.
Her In hys Armes
en takethe he,
And kyssethe her, and makethe her feste,
And wyth her do
e what euer hym leste. )lines …*
As if all this is not enough, when after a year he returns to France to 2
ght in
his kings cause, Melior sends along with him twelve pack horses loaded with
trea sure, To mayntayne yowr warres, and that in armes / Ye shulde be wor-
chyppfullŽ )lines …*.
Every thing about this abundance, sexual and other wise, suggests that Me-
lior is a fairy. 
is indeed is what Partonope himself supposes from the very
beginning: 
is is a Shyppe of "
aryeŽ )line *, he says to himself when 2
rst
he is spirited away, and on arriving in Meliors country, He thou
te he was
but in fayreŽ )line *. When, back in France, he tells his mother about
Melior, she goes o"
to inform the king,
Incubi
Fairies 
penance, however, Triamour forgives him, and Launfal is take ynto FayryeŽ
)line *„ Fer ynto a jolyf ile, / Olyroun that hyghteŽ )lines …*„ where
presumably the two of them remain in bliss to this day.
Several French
lais f
eriques
share with
Launfal
this obvious strand of
masculine wish ful2 llment. In both
Graelent
and
Guingamor
the heroes 2
rst
encounter their fairy lovers bathing naked in forest pools and in order to pro-
long their voy eur is tic recreation steal their clothes.
##3
)Interestingly the fa-
bliau
Le Chevalier qui  st parler les cons
begins with just such a scenario, and
it is in exchange for their clothes that the fairies endow him with his improb-
able talent.* While Guingamors lady grants him her love willingly, Graelents
conquest has every appearance of rape: En lespece de la forest / a fait de li ce
que li plestŽ [in the depths of the forest he did with her what he pleased] )lines
…*. D
sir
too, encountering a fairy
pucele
in a wood, threatens to rape
her, but he is talked out of it when she o"
ers to take him to see her even more
beautiful mistress, whom he 2
nds ensconced in a woodland bower.
##4
As in
Launfal
there is a strong ele ment of voyeurism:
stes vus unk si bel vis,
si beles meins, ne si beus braz,
ne si gent cors vestu a laz,
plus beus chevoils ne plus dulgez
plus asssemezne meuz treciez?
Unques ne fu si belle nee. )lines …*
[Have you ever seen so beautiful a face, such beautiful hands, such
beautiful arms, so fair a body in a robe adorned with laces, more
beautiful hair, 2
ner or better arranged and coi" ed? Never was born
so beautiful a creature.]
sir
is the only one of these three lovers to have children with his
fairy mistress, but his son and daughter are far from being the monsters en-
visaged by the great tradition: Beles esteient sanz mesure / de cors, de vis e
de feitureŽ [they were exceptionally fair of body, of face, and of demeanor]
)lines …*. Graelent, Guingamor, and D
sir
)like Lanval* all inevitably
break their mistresses solemn prohibitions )D
sir
, signi2
cantly, by confess-
ing his love to a hermit*, but all are eventually forgiven, and all end up living
out their days in fairyland. Only when one comes to understand this dimen-
sion of the traditional fairy romance can the rich comedy of Chaucers Sir
or ecclesiastical repression; there is no place in fairyland for an Emily mak-
ing her sacri2
ce in Dianas temple or a Cecilia wearing a hair shirt beneath her
wedding dress. Among the En glish Breton lais,
Sir Launfal
most clearly embodies
this ethos. Resting at the edge of a wood, the impoverished Launfal is approached
by two maidens who invite him to come and speak with their mistress, Dame
Triamour, in her pavilion.
##0

ere, in a luxurious setting, he 2
nds the daughter
of the kyng of FayryeŽ ready to place herself entirely at his disposal:
Jn
e pauyloun he fond a bed of prys
Jheled wyth purpur bys,
at semyl
was of sy
erjnne lay
at lady gent
at after Syr Launfal hedde ysent*,
at lefsom lemede bry
For hete her clo
es down sche dede
Almest to her gerdylstede:
an lay sche vncovert.
Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May,
Or snow
at sneweth yn wynterys day„
He seygh neuer non so pert. )lines …*
Naked to the waist )surely pertŽ here is punning on the sense exposed*, she
exploits the )male* audiences sexual fantasies as she invites Launfals eager
gaze, and only a few lines later she is informing him that 
er nys no man yn
Cristent
Ž )line * whom she loves as much as him and o"
ering to make
him rich„ Yf
ou wylt truly to me takeŽ )line *. Untold wealth )particu-
larly attractive to the penniless Launfal* is another common bene2
t of taking
a fairy lover. After a sumptuous supper, they go to bed:
Whan
ey had sowpe
e day was gon,
ey wente to bedde,
at anoon,
Launfal sche yn fere.
For play lytyll
ey sclepte
at ny
Tyll on morn hyt was dayly
t. )lines …*
She promises to come to him in secret whenever he wishes it, but inevitably
there is to be a condition„he is to mention her name to no one„ and, equally
inevitably, he will later break it and lose her goodwill. After a period of
Incubi
Fairies 
and William of Auvergne con2
rms that they were an almost constant topic
of conversation among the people of Brittany: in ore hominum regionis il-
lius pene assiduis narrationibus creberrimumŽ [often in the mouths of the men
of that region with their almost incessant stories]. Particularly striking is the
fact that he reports having )almost* met a man who had had the experience:
Et memini me videre potuisse virum cui illusio ista acciderat; non autem vidi
propter negligenciam meam, atque desidiamŽ [I recall that I could have seen
a man who su"
ered from this delusion, but I missed seeing him because of
my own carelessness and sloth]. Predictably enough, clerical writers were keen
to warn that liaisons with fairy mistresses would never end well )and that any
children begotten with them were bound to turn out badly*. Here, for exam-
ple, is the
South En glish Legendary
And mani fol hom li
so by in wode and eke in mede
Ac
er nis non
at ne acore
e dede
Hore membres toswelle
somme somme ofscape
vnne
And somme fordwine
al awei forte hi be[o] ibro
More won der it is iwis hou eni ofscape
e of liue
For an attri
ing it is to lemman o
er to wiue )lines …*
##%
[And many a fool lies with them thus in woods and meadows, but
every one who does so pays for it: the members of some of them
swell up, some scarcely break free, and some fade away and die; it is
more won der that any of them escape alive, for it is a foul thing to
take one as a lover or a wife].
Gervase of Tilbury too suggests that those who take fairy lovers risk losing
even the solace of a wretched lifeŽ [
minds into the fairy forest, we will see that men and women take separate
paths,Ž
#83
and it is surely no coincidence that the most fully developed of such
male fairy lovers, the father of Yonec, should have been created by a female
poet, Marie de France. Furthermore, the tension between the twin roles of
the fairy mistress )as object of erotic desire and as agent of capricious power* is
deeply gendered.
#84
We have seen it re1
ected in Chaucers
Wife of Baths Tale
and we will meet it again in
Partonope of Blois
; its origins are to be sought,
Isuggest, in the deepest recesses of Purkisss fairy forest, where, according to
one version of the
Seven Sages of Rome
, there bubbles a spring which has the
property of changing men into women and women into men.
#85
Perhaps
when William of Auvergne thanks God that no one has ever heard of fairies
being homosexual,
#86
he is reacting instinctively to a threat to orthodox
power structures posed by fairy eroticism.
Another characteristic of female, as opposed to male, fairy lovers, then,
is that they must be sought at the untamed edges of the human lifeworld.
Except where their potential partners inhabit monastic cells )in which case
predatory succubi are quite prepared to pay house calls*,
#87
they are generally
encountered, as Robert of Gloucester puts it, in wilde studes.Ž Burchard of
Wormss sylvans, who are said to be corporeal and, when they wish, show
themselves to their lovers, and take plea sure with them,Ž were a feature of the
countryside )agrestes femineŽ*,
##8
and Walter Maps Eadric the Wild, as his
name implies )quod est silvestrisŽ*, was a frequenter of the woods where his
fairy bride resided. William of Auvergne gives a vivid picture of the kind of
delusion about which, he says, many stories were told in the western regions,
particularly Brittany: someone seems to 2 nd himself in a magni2
cent and
beautiful palace, with a most beautiful woman, regal in dress and adornments,
by his side, and he attends the most splendid banquets with her, and after-
wards passes the whole night with her in sexual delights. But when all this
suddenly vanishes he realizes that he has spent the entire night in the foul
mudŽ [videtur sibi aliquis esse in palatio magni2
co, atque pulchro, videre
sibi mulierem speciosissimam in apparatu regio ornatu, esseque in epulis
splendendissimis cum ipsa, postmodum in lecto venereis deliciis tota nocte
cum ipsa. Huiusmodi autem subito evanescentibus deprehendit se fuisse in
luto sordidissimo tota nocte].
Although William accounts for such experiences as delusory dreams, their
open- air setting makes them much harder to rationalize than, say, Merlins
mothers trysts. Yet the fact that Burchard includes these
agrestes femine
in his
confessional handbook implies that a belief in their existence was widespread,
Incubi
Fairies 
Incubus hatte be ry
And gile
men o
er while,
Succubus is
at wight.
Romance has no di$
culty with this brand of fairy/mortal interbreeding„ not
only the Lusignans, but also the En glish house of Plantagenet owed their ori-
gins to it„ but it presented the great tradition with an obvious prob lem. Inge-
nious demons might be able to transport male semen at body temperature, but
portable uteruses were quite another matter.
#88
In actual fact, however, the
churchs real reason for its comparative neglect of the female fairy lover was
prob ably its unre1
ective misogyny )reinforced by the patrilineal anx i eties of
its patrons*, for once we reverse the gender polarities, we 2
nd ourselves in an
entirely di"
er ent cultural landscape.
Augustines birth certi2
cate of the medieval incubus casts incubi as male
)as silvans or pans always ready to accomplish their lustful desire to have inter-
course with women*,
#8#
but it is striking how many of his scholarly followers are
eager to reimagine such incubi as female. To take one obvious example, Gervase
of Tilbury immediately after citing Augustine goes on to discuss apparently
reliable reports of how lovers of spirits of this kind )quosdam huiusmodi
laruarum . . . amatoresŽ*, fairies, in other words )quas fadas nominantŽ*, died
as soon as they contemplated marrying other women )ad aliarum feminarum
matrimonia se transtuleru
tŽ*.
#8%
So too 
omas of Cantimpr
, writing of the
dusii
about whom the most glorious Augustine has written explic itly )de quibus
gloriosissimus augustinus in libro de ciuitate dei euidentissime scribitŽ*, says
that they suddenly snatch the bodies of living men from among mankind, as
for Diana )hominum uiuentium corpora vt dyane subito ex hominibus ra-
piebantŽ*.
#8+
Walter Map has several stories of love a"
airs between humans and
super natu ral creatures, but generally the human lover is the male and the
fairy is the female partner. Not only Eadric the Wild but also Gwestin Gwes-
tiniog, Henno
cum dentibus
, and Gerbert/Silvester II all conform to this pat-
tern, though perhaps this is predictable in an author whose antimatrimonial
tract
Valerius ad Ru
was clearly written for a male audience.
A similar pattern is also apparent )as we shall see* in vernacular ro-
mance, whose aristocratic preoccupations are re1
ected in this conspicuously
masculine form of wish ful2 llment.
#80
Not that male fairy lovers never ap-
pear in romance, but it is striking how often they are merely the nameless
progenitors of the real stories male heroes„ Yonec, Tydorel, and Degar
for example. However, as Diane Purkiss has written, if we follow medieval
 (\t
I know of only one vernacular author who promotes a fully orthodox line on
this topic. 
e 2
rst book of Ranulph Higdens universal history is a geo graph-
i cal survey of the known world, and when he comes to describe Wales, he
ers us a versi2
ed paraphrase of Gerald of Waless
Itinerarium Cambriae
. At
one point Gerald had been forced to explain that there were two Merlins: one
called Ambrosius, a prophet under King Vortigern, who had been begotten
by an incubus and found in Carmarthen )ab incubo genitus, et apud Kaermer-
dyn inventusŽ*; and the other being Merlin Silvestris.
is passage Higden
renders almost word for word, but his En glish translator John Trevisa is hav-
ing none of it: What wight wolde wene,Ž he asks indignantly, 
at a fend
t now gete a childe?Ž He then goes on to try to show how the trick is done:
won der dede
men and wommen sede
Fendes wyl kepe
craft, and bringe in on hepe.
So fendes wilde
May make wommen bere childe;
it neuere in mynde
Was childe of fendes kynde.
It is true that the author of
Sir Gowther
does at least seem to recognize that there
is a prob lem: A selcowgh thyng that is to here,Ž he says, A fend nyeght wemen
nere, / And makyd hom with chyldŽ )lines …*, but he decides against going
into details: 
erof seyus clerkus, Y wotte how, / 
at schall not be rehersyd
nowŽ )lines …*. Its French counterpart
Robert le diable
, on the other hand,
neatly sidesteps the whole issue: the duchess is made pregnant by her own
husband, and it is only because she had earlier prayed to the devil for a child
that her pregnancy is compromised.
To this point we have concentrated on male incubi, but there is no doubt
that in the popu lar imagination human/fairy miscegenation might quite as
easily involve female incubi )or succubi
as they came to be called*: Ofte in
mannes forme . wommen hii come
to,Ž writes Robert of Gloucester,  ofte
in wimmen forme . hii come
to men al so.Ž
Even Trevisa acknowledges,
that
at fend
at gooth a ny
Wommen wel ofte to begile.
Incubi
Fairies 
beheldŽ )lines …*. Not only that, but Merlin had earlier been cited as an
example of how such pregnancies might come about:
Sumtyme the fende hadde postee
For to dele with ladies free
In liknesse of here fere;
So that he bigat Merlyng and mo,
And wrought ladies so mikil wo
at ferly it is to here. )lines …*
In fact we are told that the same devil was at work in both cases and that the
future Sir Gowther will be none other than Merlins half- brother:
 is chyld within hur was non odur,
Bot eyvon Marlyon halfe brodur,
For won fynd gatte hom bothe.Ž )lines …*
When young Gowther turns out to be a monster, then, we know just who to
blame. Interestingly, despite its apparent conformity with clerical standards,
this account is provided with just such a temporal cushion as we often 2 nd
in true fairy romances: 
Sumtyme
the fende hadde posteeŽ; the license of dev-
ils to harm mortals is given a similar gloss in
Of Arthour and of Merlin
: Ac
whilom more
an now.Ž
By the end of the Middle Ages, then, the great tradition could count the
progressive demonization of the fairy lover as one of its successes, but its expla-
nation of the mechanics of super natu ral impregnation seems to have been less
widely accepted. In both the chronicle and romance traditions, Merlin, even
where he is not the son of a fairy, is still, in the biological sense, the son of a
demon. 
e dev ils parliament of Robert de Borons poem )as well as its prose
adaptation* selects an emissary who has the ability to father human children:
Nous avuns
Cilec un des nos compeignuns
Qui fourme domme puet avoir
 (\t
When it becomes generally known that she is pregnant, Merlins mother is
arrested for fornication and condemned to be stoned to death after the birth: 
as soone as yt was born, he ranne from
e mydwyfe, woolde haue done
fulfyllyd
e wylle of
e Devyl, his fadyr, for he was begottyn to haue destroyed
al
e worlde. But God,
at is
e wel of al goodnesse correcter of alle wyk-
kydnes, shewyd vnto
e Heremyte
e malycyus wyl of
e Devyl, the chyldys
fadyr. And because he was born of a cristyn woman, almyhty God tolde
Heremyte how he shulde cristyn hym. And be
e uertu of that holy sacrament
his wekydnesse shulde be take from hym.Ž 
e 2
rst act of this reformed infant is
to save his mother from death. But even though he fails to ful2
ll 
e wylle of
Devyl, his fadyr,Ž this Merlin bears little resemblance to the ambiguous incubus-
demon of Geo"
rey of Monmouth. Sired by the devil, he is rescued from his
fathers clutches only by the timely intervention of the sacramental church.
Before we leave this topic, one 2
nal example of the campaign to demon-
ize Merlins father is worth noting. 
e En glish romance
Sir Gowther
)though
not its French counterpart
Robert le diable
, whose most obvious intertext is
Incubi
Fairies 
Middle En glish romance called
Of Arthour and of Merlin
)copied at least
three times and printed once*, and after  two further En glish versions
appeared, one in prose and the other in verse. Both seem to be the work of
Londoners, and the second was translated by a respectable )if somewhat ver-
bose* citizen, a skinner named Henry Lovelich.
Toward the end of the
century )certainly after *, however, the owner of one prose
Brut
)Lam-
beth Palace, MS * deci ded to revise his manuscript in the light of other
books he had read, and his account is worth quoting as an illustration of the
degree to which the clerical demonization of Merlins father had almost en-
tirely buried the older tradition by this period.
While he omits de Borons backstory of the council of dev ils and its em-
issary, this reviser does give Merlins mother two sisters )though here she is
the youn gest and both her siblings are still alive*. 
ese sisters do not approve
of her living as a poor virgin and take her to task for it:
So thus of
at one reprefe, of
er, sche went home in gret
hevynes, wepyyng, shet her dorys, leyde her on her bedde
wepte tyl sche fyl on slepe. 
an
e Devyl, hauyng envy at her
perfyt lyfe, entryd in-to
e deede body of a fayre young man,
cam in-to her chambyr oppressyd her, lyeng on her bed, and
begat on her a chylde, so departyd sodeynly from her ayen. And
aftyrward, whan sche vndirstode perseyuyd
at sche was
consyuyd with childe, sche yede vnto
e Heremyte tolde hym
how
at, her dorys beyng fast schet, ther come yn a goodly young
man vnto her„ sche wist neuer how„ oppressyd her sore, ayenst
her wyl, begat her with childe sodenly departyt from her
ageyne„ sche wist neuer how. 
an
e Heremyte seyde it was
sothe, but he woolde not discomfort her, in so- moche at yt was
doon ayenst her wyl by
e envy of
e Devyl.
is incubus is our most diabolic yet: a Devyl . . . [in]
e deede body of a
fayre young man.Ž Fairy beliefs concerning the dead are particularly di$
cult to
penetrate )as we shall see in Chapter*, but the notion, as the
Lucydary
e has it,
that spyrytes and elues . . . that men say
they se by nyght, they often ben
deuylles that put theym in fourme of some deed bodyŽ
seems to be an im-
portation from the learned tradition. At any rate, it was to feature later in the
fervid imaginings of witch- hunters such as Henri Boguet and Nicholas R
my.Ž
 (\t
enesse.Ž
is skepticism is even found in the metrical chronicle of John
Harding )begun around *, though in other re spects he was a great ad-
mirer of the Arthurian story:
Ne of his [Merlins] birth that many menne on wounder
Of that werke, bothe aboue and vnder,
 at no father had, ne of his prophecye ,
I cannot wryte of suche a$
rmably.
e old story of Merlins fairy parentage was clearly subject to considerable
clerical pressure.
e single most impor tant source of such pressure was a poem, now sur-
viving only in a single fragment )though the rest is preserved in an early prose
redaction*, composed around  by a shadowy Burgundian called Robert
de Boron.
e narrative of Merlins conception in the Arthurian Vulgate
Cycle is derived from this version. )One further source, the non- cyclic
Lance-
lot do Lac
, pres ents us with an even more diabolic Merlin, but this does not
seem to have been widely known in Eng land.*
Geo"
rey of Monmouths
account of Merlins parentage )implying, as it does, an impious virgin birth*
may well have shocked de Boron, but in any event, by seeking to bring it
within the compass of his own rather eccentric theological horizons, he gives
it a radical new twist. 
e poem begins with a council of dev ils selecting one of
their number to go to earth in order to engender the Antichrist. 
e chosen
devil so depraves Merlins grand mother that she brings upon her family a se-
ries of disasters, including the deaths of her husband, her son, her middle
daughter, and )by suicide* herself; her youn gest daughter becomes a prosti-
tute, and only the eldest daughter, Merlins mother, holds out against him„
and then only because a holy hermit instructs her to keep a candle burning in
her chamber every night and to make the sign of the cross before going to
bed. One night, when she is out of charity with her sister, she forgets these
elementary precautions, and the devil slips into her bed and makes her preg-
nant, but his plans for the birth of the Antichrist are subsequently thwarted
by her own penitence and the good o$
ces of the hermit.
Although apparently not widely circulated in Eng land before the 2
fteenth
century )only one of the 2
fty- two surviving manuscripts of the French prose
version is known to have been copied there*,
around the year  de
Borons version of Merlins conception was incorporated into a popu lar
Incubi
Fairies 
some early vernacular works strike the same note. 
e Anglo- Norman
Brut
inB.L. MS Royal .A. XXI, for instance, calls Merlin a son of a whore, of
base descentŽ [
 z a putein de pute lin
] and also substitutes the far stronger word
devil for the demon of Maugentiuss explanation: Uns diables qui incube
unt nun.Ž
By the early fourteenth century the clerical interpretation of Merlins
father had become standard in the chronicle tradition; 
e quilk spirites,
amange vs alle, / Moniks, deuells and fendes we calle,Ž says Castlefords ver-
sion of the
Brut
)ca. *.

ose unwilling to enter this contentious arena
had the choice of either disenchantment or open skepticism. 
us the popu-
lar standard version of the En glish prose
Brut
)perhaps 2
rst compiled around
* leaves us with the strong impression that Merlin was the son of a single
mother, in a rather less exotic sense of that term:
but, sireŽ quod shee, as y was a
onge maiden in my faderes
chambre, and o
ere of grete lynage were in my com pany,
at ofte
were wont to play and to solacen, I belefte allone in my chaumbre
of my fader, wolde nou
t go
out, for brennyng of
e sone. And
uppo
a tyme
ere come a faire bachiler, and entrede into my
chaumbre
at I was allone; but how he come into me, wher,
I wiste neuer, ne
itte wote, for
e dorres were fast barrede; and
me he dede game of loue, I nade no
er my
t ne power him to
defende fro me; and oft he come to me in the forsaide maner, so
at he bigate one me
is same childe; but neuer my
t y wete of him
what he was, ne whens he come, ne what was his name.Ž
No sudden vanishings, no invisible conversations here„ merely a handsome
young man with a short way with locked doors. And instead of Maugentiuss
elaborate explanation of the mystery, we have only a curt remark from Merlin
himself: sire, how y was bigeten axe
e no more, for hit falle
ow
ne to none o
ere forto wete.Ž Ranulph Higden, however, expresses open skep-
ticism in his
Polychronicon
) after *: moreover, I would have included
what is contained in a single British book about the fantastic engendering of
Merlin, if I had thought it supported by the truthŽ [Caeterum quae . . . de
fantastica Merlini genitura . . . in solo Britannico libro continetur, praesenti
historiae addidissem, si ea veritate su"
ulta credidissem]; his view was repeated
by John Trevisa )by no means always a slavish translator* later in the century
)*: and I wolde putte it to
is storie
if I trowed
at it be i- holpe by
 (\t
Further details of these
may be gleaned from a description of the
ranks of the fallen angels in a closely related text,
The South En glish
Legendary
And ofte in forme of womman . in moni deorne weie
Me sic
of hom gret companie . bo
e hoppe pleie
at eleuene beo
icluped .
at ofte come
to toune
And bi daie muche in wode beo
. bini
te upe heie doune.
)lines …*
[And often in womans form, along many a secret path, great
companies of them may be seen dancing and playing; they are
called elves; they often visit human dwellings, and by day they
spend much time in the woods and at night upon the high
downs.]
For Robert of Gloucester, then, Merlins father was clearly an elf, and right down
to the end of the Middle Ages this reading would survive in other versions of his
chronicle: in one 2 fteenth- century prose redaction, for instance, we 2 nd,
and som men calle hem elves fer from the grounde,Ž
and in another, and
men calleth hem noweadays Elves.Ž
Merlins fame as a prophet„ even William of Auvergne concedes that
many of his predictions came true„ made it vital for the church that the popu-
lar myths surrounding his birth should be thoroughly exploded. It was a
comparatively simple matter for clerics to demonize his fairy origins )though,
as we shall see, beliefs about super natu ral insemination would prove much
harder to eradicate*. 
e pro cess began very early. 
e so- called 2
rst variant
version, which seems to have been produced shortly after the 2
rst appearance
of the
Historia
in , in fact while Geo"
rey of Monmouth was still alive,
makes two signi2
cant changes to Maugentiuss speech: for the simple spirits
spiritu
s] we call incubi- demonsŽ of Geo"
reys original, the 2
rst variant ver-
sion reads, evil spiritsŽ [
spiritus immundi
]; and where the original reads, For-
sitan unus ex eis huic mulieri apparuitŽ [perhaps one of these appeared to this
woman], the revision reads, Forsitan aliquis eorum huic mulieri stuprum in-
tulitŽ [perhaps one of them fornicated with this woman]. Similarly, William
of Newburgh, one of Geo"
reys most strident critics, writes of Merlins proph-
esies, [Geo"
rey] was ashamed to insert 
us saith the devil as should have
been appropriate to a prophet who was the son of a demonic incubus,Ž
and
Incubi
Fairies 
is 2 gure bears so strong a resemblance to the fairy lover in Marie de
Frances
Yonec
that the author may have felt that any further elucidation
was unnecessary; in any event his version completely discards the episode
with Maugentius.
All the versions of this scene that we have looked at so far except the last
describe Merlins father as an incubus- demon, but there is more than cir-
cumstantial evidence to show that this term actually was taken to denote a
fairy. We have already seen that one scribe of Waces
Roman de Brut
substi-
tutes
luiton
for
incubi
but another early manuscript )Durham Cathedral,
MSC.iv..* goes one better. 
is version contains a complete rewriting of
the passage on Merlins conception and birth. By and large it brings it into
far closer proximity with Geo"
rey of Monmouths original account; Merlins
mother is no longer a nun, for instance, and Apuleiuss name is restored. But
there is one glaring alteration: where Geo"
rey had written spiritus quos in-
cubos demones appellamusŽ [spirits we call incubi- demons] this manuscript
has the words Faez sunt, car formes faees / Prenent suvent si devienent feesŽ
[they are fairies because they often take on magical forms and so become
fairies].
e En glish equivalent of
in this period was elf,
and the late
thirteenth- century chronicler Robert of Gloucester in his treatment of this
same episode makes quite clear what he imagines incubi to be. Here is his ver-
sion of Maugentiuss explanation:
He [Vortigern] esste at is clerkes . were it to leue were.
e clerkes sede
at it is . in philoso2 e yfounde .
er be
in
e eyr an hey . ver fram
e grounde .
As a maner gostes . wi
tes as it be .
And me may
em ofte an er
e . in wilde studes yse .
ofte in mannes forme . wommen hii come
ofte in wimmen forme . hii come
to men al so .
at men clupe
eluene. )lines …*
[He asked his clerks whether it was credible. 
e clerks said that
itis found in philosophy that there are in the air, far from the
ground, certain kinds of spirit, creatures as it were, and they can
often be seen on earth in wild places, and they often come to
women in mans form, and also they often come to men in
womans form. And they are called elves.]
 (\t
intrigue was entirely consensual.
Handsome in appearance but mild in
bearing )sub specie iuuenis, pulcherrimus ore, / In cunctis placidusŽ*, he
gives her repeated kisses and wrestles with her playfully )repetita michi dare
basia, deinde iocose / Luctari mecumŽ*:
Uicta„ non inuite„ subcumbens uim paciebar,
Sed gratam passe uiolate non uiolatam.
Inde recedebat tenues dilapsus in auras,
More reuersurus solito, sed tardus amanti.
[Conquered, not reluctantly, I yielded submissively to his
strength„it was not duress, for I was glad to experience his
forcefulness. 
en he would withdraw, melting into thin air, and
though he would reappear in the usual way, it seemed an age to his
lover.]
e author seems likely to have been a cleric, but his apparition in this pas-
sage reads far more like the fairy lover of masculine wish ful2 llment than the
demon of clerical disapproval.
One 2 nal adaptation of this section of Geo"
reys
Historia
, a thirteenth-
century Anglo- Norman poem,
coment Merlyn fu nee e sa nessaunce de sa mere
is worth mentioning here for a remarkable addition it makes to the list of the
lovers attributes. Merlins mother confesses that when she was alone in her
chamber saying her prayers,
vn oyselet i soleyt entrer.
Eyns deuynt a vn beu Bacheler,
Souuente feyce moy acola
E souuente foyz moy beysa.
Mes apres aveunt taunt ala,
Ke il ouueke moy se cocha
Ausi cum humme, e io consu.
[a little bird used to enter. Straightway, it turned into a 2
ne young
squire„ many times he embraced me, and many times he kissed
me. . . . But after having gone on like this, he lay with me as a man,
and I conceived.]
Incubi
Fairies 
is view survives in Robert Mannyngs account of Merlins father in his
Story
of Eng land
: Mykel skathe do they nought; / Drecchynge by tymes haue they
wroughtŽ )lines …*.
e ultimate source for this idea seems to be
Cassians remark about  those whom the people also call faunsŽ [
 (\t
since she knew that she had lived without knowing a man [non putabat
secarnis virginitatem amisisse quare nouit se ab homine incongnitam exti-
tisse].Ž
In the 2
fteenth century Saint Lidwina treated a woman making a
similar claim to ringing sarcasm: Supervacuo titulo tanti nominis, ut timeo,
gloriaris: si scire volueris, viginti quinque tales virgines, cujusmodi tu ipsa
existis, super unam molam piperariam libere chorizare possentŽ [I fear you
are enjoying an empty title to such an illustrious status [
virgo intacta
and if
you really want to know, twenty- 2
ve virgins of your sort could easily dance
on a pepper mill].
To see how the term incubus )and indeed the word demon* might
have been understood by Geo"
rey, and by many of his contemporaries, we
might look at the way his account was handled by his immediate successors.
By , only twenty years or so after its composition, Geo"
reys history had
been translated into Anglo- Norman by Wace.
Wace makes a number of
changes to Merlins mothers account of her seduction and to Maugentiuss
explanation of it: in the 2 rst place, he makes the mother a nun, where
Geo"
rey had only said, ambiguously, that she lived among nuns )
inter mo-
nachas degebat
but far more importantly he makes her seducer completely
invisible:
Se Deus, dist ele, me a
Unches ne cunui ne ne vi
Ki cest vallet engen
i. )lines …*
[So God help me, she said, I never knew nor saw who engendered
this boy.]
Wace then goes on to tell us that she did not know whether or not she had been
visited by an apparition: Ne sai se fu fantosmerieŽ )line *. As for Mau-
gentiuss explanation, it omits any speci2
c reference to Apuleius but contains
a far more signi2
cant addition; speaking of incubi, Wace says.
Ne p
ent mie grant mal faire;
Ne p
ent mie mult noisir
Fors de gaber e descharnir. )lines …*
 ey cannot do great wickedness; they cannot cause much harm,
except to deceive and deride.]
Incubi
Fairies 
dis appear, so that I might see nothing of him. Also he conversed
with me many times, while I sat in private, but was nowhere
vis i ble. And when he had attended me in this way, he often coupled
with me in the form of a man and left me pregnant. You must
know, my prudent lord, that other than this I have known no man
who might have begotten this boy.
When the king turns to Maugentius )one of his advisers* for his opinion,
Maugentius says, In the books of our phi los o phers and in many histories I
have found many men who were engendered in this way. For, as Apuleius
says in
De Deo Socratis
, between the moon and the earth live spirits whom
we call incubi- demons. In part their nature is human and in part angelic,
and when they wish they take on human shape and couple with women.
Perhaps one of these appeared to this woman and begot this young man
on her.Ž
Whether or not Geo"
rey of Monmouth had actually read
De Deo Socra-
) there is nothing in this passage that he could not have deduced from Saint
Augustines refutation in
e City of God
of its claim that demons act as in-
termediaries between human beings and the gods [book ] or from the spec-
ulations about incubi [book ]*,
it is in ter est ing that he chose not to refer to
the far better- known work here. By citing Apuleius rather than Augustine,
Geo"
rey gives his  middle spirits a distinctly neoplatonic )as opposed to
patristic* caste.
Geo"
rey of Monmouth did not weave this passage out of whole cloth.
He was embroidering a hint he had found in Nennius,Ž
where a similar
search for a boy with no father leads Vortigerns envoys to the mother of
Ambrosius/Merlin: I do not know how he was conceived in my womb,Ž she
tells them, but one thing I do know is that I have never known a manŽ [ne-
scio quomodo in utero meo conceptus est, sed unum scio, quia virum non
cognovi umquam], and she swears to them that her son had no father )et iu-
ravit illis patrem non habereŽ*.
It is not di$
cult to see how this passage
might have suggested a fairy lover to Geo"
rey, particularly since there seems
to have been a popu lar belief that sex with incubi posed no threat to a womans
virginity. In the mid- thirteenth century the confessor of a young nun reported
her insistence that despite having had an extended and lurid sexual relation-
ship with an incubus )diuque a demone incubo fedissime polluta omnibus
modis detestande libidinisŽ*, she, like Merlins mother, believed herself to be
still a virgin: she did not think that she had lost her virginity in the 1
esh
 (\t
poterant aliunde portareŽ* proves that such ideas were not new.
By the
middle of the thirteenth century, however, the scienti2
cally minded Albertus
Magnus had paved the way for what was to become the standard account by
arguing that the ability of skillful demons to preserve human semen at its
natu ral temperature )
calori naturale
* might solve the di$
culties raised by the
widespread story of Merlins father )rumor publicus de Merlino 2 lio in-
cubiŽ*.
is 2
nal explanation, as found in Aquinas and Bonaventure,
was to be passed down to the early modern witch- hunters.
Here, then, is
Bonaventures version, as given by the 2
fteenth- century Spanish Franciscan
Alphonse de Spina: For demons in the form of women 2
rst lie with men and
take from them polluted semen and by a certain natu ral artfulness keep that
same semen in its active state, and afterwards become incubi and with
Gods permission transfuse it into a womans womb, from which transfu-
sion humans can be generated, but those thus generated are the children of
man not demons. [
De Spina adds
]: In this way Merlin was said to have been
begotten.Ž
It is time to return to Geo"
rey of Monmouth to see what caused
all this scholastic kerfu=
e.
Since Geo"
reys account was to form the basis of all subsequent discus-
sions of Merlins engendering and since its fairy dimension is still not gener-
ally appreciated,
it is worth examining in detail here. King Vortigern, losing
his war against the invading Saxons, Hengist and Horsa, decides to build a
fortress in a remote part of his kingdom and to take his stand there. He se-
lects a suitable location, but every time he lays down the foundations they col-
lapse overnight. Having been advised that only by obtaining a child without
a father )iuuenem sine patreŽ* and by sprinkling the foundations with its
blood will he succeed in getting the walls to stand 2
rm, Vortigern sends en-
voys all over Britain to 2
nd such a child. In Carmarthen they come upon a
group of boys squabbling over a ball game, and when one insults the other„
No one knows who you are since you have no fatherŽ [de te autem nescitur
quis sis cum patrem non habeas]„ they visit the childs mother and ask her
to explain his paternity to Vortigern. On my immortal soul, and on yours,
my lord king,Ž she says,
I have known no one who begot him upon me. 
e one thing I do
know is that when I was among my attendants in our bed- chamber
someone would appear to me in the shape of a very handsome
young man and often straining me in his arms he would kiss me.
And when he had dallied a while with me, he would suddenly
Incubi
Fairies 
Despite the fact that in vernacular romance, where fairy lovers abound,
fairy paternity )not to mention fairy maternity* is commonplace, the great tra-
dition had little reason to pay much attention to it before the appearance of
Geo"
rey of Monmouths
Historia Regum Britannie
. However, the
Historia
was
written in Latin by one of their own and presented as sober historical fact,
so that schoolmen were forced to confront the product of an actual union be-
tween a mortal woman and an incubus- demon„ Merlin, the celebrated
British seer and adviser to kings. Geo"
rey is surely being disingenuous when
he has one of Vortigerns councillors tell the king that in the books of our
phi los o phers and in many histories I have found that many men were engen-
dered in this way,Ž
for William of Auvergne, when he came to tackle the
topic a hundred years later, could 2 nd only one other written source:
Jordaness
History of the Goth
s, cited as evidence that the Huns traced their
origins back to incubi.
An additional rumor [
fama
], no doubt brought back
by crusaders, that the Cypriots boasted a similar ancestry adds little to his
case, and Williams best evidence for demonic fecundity is clearly Merlin
himself: so from all these things you may not improbably infer that the well-
known rumor, popularly believed, that a certain man, who is said to have
been the son of an incubus- demon in Greater Britain, is not impossibleŽ [ex
his igitur omnibus colligere potes non improbabiliter, sermonem famosum,
opinione vulgatum, de quodam, qui in majori Britannia 2 lius daemonis in-
cubi fuisse dicitur, non esse impossibilem].
William never mentions Merlin
by name, but the fact that he goes on to discuss this mans prophesies makes
it clear whom he is talking about.
William denies the possibility that demons can impregnate mortal women,
but he remains uncertain how to account for cases like Merlins. Even in
his own day, however, the germ of an explanation was beginning to form.
Caesarius of Heisterbach, discussing
Merlinus propheta Britannorum ex
incubo daemone . . . generatu
s, credits a certain educated man )a quodam
literato homineŽ* with the theory that demons can make use of human seed
that is unnaturally shed )crementum humanum quod contra naturam fun-
diturŽ* to make themselves bodies with which to impregnate humans.
Inci-
dentally, Caesarius augments the cases of Merlin and the Huns with that of
the reigning kings of Eng land, said to be descended from a female fairy )de
matre phantastica descendisse referunturŽ*„ presumably an allusion to
Gerald of Waless account of Henry IIs mother.
Stephen Langtons rejec-
tion some thirty years earlier )in the course of a discussion of Merlins parent-
age* of the notion that demons can transport human seed from elsewhere )non
 (\t
imaginings of sheltered young women )even when the women were shel-
tered by the walls of a nunnery*, the threat must always have seemed manage-
able. Reports of women made pregnant by incubi, however, were quite another
matter. On the face of it such pregnancies might seem absurd„ sed sic proprie
generare incubum non dicemusŽ [let us not say that an incubus can reproduce
of its own accord], writes 
omas of Cantimpr
, or as
Dives and Pauper
cinctly puts it, fend with fend may nout gendryn.Ž
However, the fact that
the church took such enormous trou ble to combat the idea )and the fact that
earlier commentators like William of Auvergne were not entirely sure how
they should refute it* suggests that it enjoyed considerable popu lar currency,
that what ever the church taught them about the sterility of demons, the
people continued to believe that fairies were not only sexy but also fertile.
After all, fairy insemination o"
ered medieval women a con ve nient way to
account for any pregnancy that, for what ever social reasons, could not safely
be attributed to a speci2
c human father.
e story of Saint Marina, as it is told in the Vernon Manuscript, o"
ers
us a charming illustration of this. Saint Marina, having joined a monastery
disguised as a monk, is sent on an errand outside the walls of the abbey. 
is
gives a brewers daughter who 2
nds herself pregnant a chance to try to foist
her childs paternity on the supposed Brother Marin who had stayed at her
mothers inn. 
e abbot takes his/her guilt for granted, and the saint bears
the ensuing opprobrium with patient humility until her true gender is revealed
some years later. At this point the brewers daughter, deprived of her 2
rst ex-
planation, is forced to come up with an alternative one:
is Breuesteres douhtur wox wood,
And com cri
inde wi
grisly mood
And tolde
e folk as wodewose wilde
who gat on hire
is forseyde childe. )lines …*
 is brewers daughter grew angry and, crying pitifully, told the
people that it was a wild woodwose that had fathered the foresaid
child on her.]
Evidently it was fair game for people to ascribe an unexplained pregnancy )like
other deviations from the social norm„ sudden wealth, an unconventional
marriage, a conspicuously beautiful or erudite woman, or a mysterious disap-
pearance* to the intervention of fairy agency.
Incubi
Fairies 
rings, necklaces, collars, brooches, earrings, and many things of the kind.Ž On
another occasion, silken robes all glistening with gems, silver and gold, and
what ever can be imagined most precious and fair in the glory of this world he
heaped up before her and o"
ered them all.Ž
He passes at will in and out of
her bedchamber )like other fairy lovers*, and until the saint intervenes no one
is able to prevent him.
It is impor tant to note that none of these stories is told about a distant
time and place; all three assume that experiences such as these are part of the
common fabric of life in medieval Eng land. British Library MS Royal .D. I,
a collection of exempla made, prob ably in the s, by a Cambridge Domini-
can, contains a number of these fairy/incubus stories, including one about a
sixteen- year- old girl to whom a certain man frequently appeared, dressed in
noble attire, sometimes in silk, at other times in cloth of gold, soliciting her to
consent to carnal intercourse with him, and on occasion when she was sitting
in the hall with others, he approached her and kissed her, though no one could
see him but herŽ [apparuit ei quidam in habitu nobili frquenter, quandoque in
serico, quandoque in vestibus deauratis indutus, sollicitans illam ut ei consen-
tiret ad carnalem copulam, et quandoque, dum sederet in aula cum aliis, accessit
 (\t
pulchra, ignota]*,
and the invitation to partake in a sumptuous, but dan-
gerous, feast is another fairy commonplace: William of Newburgh, for in-
stance, tells of a fellow Yorkshireman returning home, a little drunk, late one
night, when suddenly from a hillock close by . . . he heard voices singing, as
though people were feasting in cele bration. . . . In the side of the hill he saw
an open door; he approached and looked inside. Before his eyes was a large
well- lit dwelling crowded with men and women reclining at table as if at a
formal feast. One of the servants . . . o"
ered him a cup.Ž
My second example comes from Adam of Eynshams late twelfth- century
life of Hugh of Lincoln.
Here a woman who has strug gled with a demon for
a long time is approached by another spirit in the shape of a young man,Ž
who o"
ers to rid her of her oppressor on condition that she enter a love pact
amoris fedus
Ž* with him: he then leads her to a place near her dwelling and
shows her a plant growing near by, saying, Take this plant and hide it in your
bosom and scatter it round your house. You will see for yourself when you
have done so that my promise has come true. Ž 
e 2 rst would-be seducer
is indeed e"
ectively repelled by this herb, but the sensible young woman
manages to avoid the blandishments of the second by leaving his herb in po-
sition: you can come if you wish and if you can, for I ought not to break my
promise, but, as long as I live, never will I cast away from me this plant, which
is my only defence against my lascivious seducer.Ž Predictably the second
would-be lover is as e"
ectively repelled as the 2
rst. We are told that the herb
is St.Johns Wort, though the reason for connecting this story with Saint
Hugh of Lincoln is never really made clear to us.
It is, in fact, far easier to
believe that what we are really being presented with here is a standard folk
remedy against fairy seduction.
In my third example, 
omas of Monmouth, the twelfth- century biog-
rapher of William of Norwich, states unequivocally what was only implicit in
our other two stories, that the seducing incubus is a fairy. He tells of a pious
virgin from the Su"
olk town of Dunwich who was assaulted by one of those
beings whom they call fairies and incubi [
Incubi
Fairies 
Goldemar is quite clearly a fairy„ a fairy king in fact„ and any whi"
of the
demonic is dispelled by Engelhuss anecdote of his conversing about the Trin-
ity. All the more remarkable, then, that Goldemar should be described as
anincubus, for there is no evidence that he has sexual relations with anyone
atall.
Clearly, even in Engelhuss day the extended campaign of the church to
demonize this aspect of popu lar belief was still not totally successful, though
the fact that we should have such di$
culty thinking of an incubus as simply
a fairy shows how e"
ective it would prove to be in the long run. Nevertheless,
if we are to respond fully to this facet of the medieval popu lar imaginary, it is
vital that we try to shed the associations that the word incubus inevitably
conjures up for us and seek to recover something of its earlier signi2
cance.
One useful exercise is to try to read as coded fairy stories the tales of women
heroically resisting, or sinfully submitting to, the advances of seductive in-
cubi with which the homiletic and pastoral lit er a ture of the medieval church
abounds. Let us brie1
y consider three of them here„ all En glish, though there
is no dearth of such stories from the Continent.
e 2
rst comes from the canonization proceedings )…* of 
omas
of Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford:
A certain girl, the daughter of Nicholas Nevenon, of Inglethorp in
Norfolk, in the diocese of Norwich, had for 2
ve years been solicited
and greatly wearied by a certain incubus- demon, as was believed.
He promised her many and varied gifts if she would allow him to
sleep with her, but she, utterly refusing and recoiling from him and
defending her body with the sign of the cross, remained still
unharmed, despite many vexations. Also on one occasion the same
wicked spirit led her into a certain beautiful place [
in quemdam
locum amœnum
] where she saw many wonderful things, among
them an ornate table supplied with many va ri e ties of delicious
dishes, which he invited her to eat. She was terri2
ed, however, and
invoked Gods aid by crossing herself in her usual way, by which
she remained free of these illusions.
Elsewhere such journeys to mysterious and beautiful places are associated with
the fairies )as in John Bromyards description of deluded women who believe
themselves carried o"
by a certain race and led to certain beautiful and un-
known placesŽ [quae dicunt se rapti a quodam populo, duci ad loca quaedam
 (\t
For diuerse goddis of
e wodis grene
Appere
ere, called Satiry,
Bycornys eke, fawny and incuby,
at causen ofte men to falle in rage.
Even clearer is a de2 nition in the early 2 fteenth- century tract
Dives and
Paupe
r )ca. *: 
e fendis
at temptyn folc to lecherie ben mest besy for
to aperyn in mannys lycnesse womannys to don lecherye with folc so
bryngyn hem to lecherie, in speche of
e peple it arn clepyd eluys. But in
Latyn whan
ei aperyn in
o lycnesse of man it arn clepyd
incubi
, and
whan
ei aperyn in
o lycnesse of woman it arn clepyd
succuby
In the
same vein an early 2
fteenth- century German demonologist introduces a dis-
cussion of
incubi and succubi by stating that the demon which is termed
incubus is also called a fairyŽ [demon ille, qui incubus nominatur, eciam sil-
vanus dicitur].
As late as the early sixteenth century, a cunning man named
William Stapleton could refer to two spirits by the proper names of Oberion
and Inchubus.
Perhaps the most striking example of all is the lengthy description
ofan incubus we 2 nd in an early 2 fteenth- century German chronicle by
Dietrich Engelhus )though the events he describes seem to date from the
late s*:
ere was a certain incubus, calling himself King Goldemar, who
attached himself to a certain knight called Neveling de Hardenburg,
from the County of Mark, near the River Ruhr. 
e incubus spoke
with men, played a musical instrument, joined in games of dice,
spent money, drank wine, and was seen giving answers to many,
both religious and secular, but he frequently dismayed the religious
by exposing their hidden vices. He often warned his aforementioned
host of the approach of his enemies and gave him advice about
dealing with them. He o"
ered only his hands to be touched, and
his hands were graceful and soft, as if one were touching a mouse
or a frog. . . . I heard all these things from many people, and
understood them more fully from Neveling himself twenty- six
years later. Neveling was also instructed by him, as can be seen
from this verse: 
e Father is uncreated; the Son is uncreated; the
Holy Spirit is uncreated.Ž And after he had lived with him for three
years he departed without doing any kind of harm.
Incubi
Fairies 
this has been daily proved by men of unimpeachable reputation, because we
have heard of certain lovers of these kinds of spirit )which are called fairies
quas fadas nominant
]*, and how, when they committed themselves in mar-
riage to other women, they died before they intermingled themselves in car-
nal coupling with their consorts. And we have observed that most enjoyed the
highest state of worldly fortune, but when they extricated themselves from the
embraces of this kind of fairy [
hiuiscemodi fadarum
], or spoke of them in pub-
lic, they lost not only worldly prosperity but even the paltry comfort of life
itself.Ž
At the time he was writing the
Otia,
Gervase was living in Arles in
southern France,
and the words
fadas/fadarum
here are clearly Latinized
forms of Proven
al
fada
, fairy„ itself a re1
ex of Latin
fata
, the etymon of
Middle French
feie
Modern French
. In much the same way, Walter Map
renders the fairy nature of Eadric the Wilds bride, whom he later describes as
a succubus, by the word
fatalitas
In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that for much of the
Middle Ages the word incubus, what ever its connotations in clerical dis-
course, meant simply fairy in such contexts. If we imagine a series running
demon
demon- fairy
fairy- demon
fairy
, then, for most of those who were
familiar with the word at all, incubus would have to be placed toward the
right- hand end of such a spectrum )we should remember, moreover, that
demon itself began life as a somewhat less harsh term than devil [
diabolus
]*.
us when an early fourteenth- century scribe, who was copying Waces
Roman de Brut
, came upon the line incubi demones unt nunŽ [they are
called incubi- demons] in his exemplar, he altered the word
incubi
luiton
fairy, presumably in the interest of clarity.
Later in the century Raoul de
Presles, commenting on Augustines silvans and pans, recommended that
his reader consult William of Auvergnes
De Universo
on incubi and suc-
cubi: and also he speaks in that place of Hellekins court and of Lady
Abundance and of the spirits that they call fairies, which appear in stables
and woodsŽ [et aussi parle il en celle partie de la maisnie de hellequin et de
dame habonde et des esperis quilz appellent faes qui apperent es estables et
es arbres].
ere is clear evidence that as late as the 2
fteenth century the word
in-
cubus might still have been imagined as a fancy word for fairy: thus, Lom
folez e satereausŽ [the wild men and satyrs], whom Benoit de Saint- Maure says
inhabit Pannonia
and who become the multos satiros faunosque bicornesŽ
[many satyrs and two- horned fauns] of Guido della Colonna,
are supple-
mented by incubi in Lydgates
Troy Book
 (\t
My concern in this chapter is not with experiential explanations such as these
but with their cultural rami2
cations,
which for the Middle Ages are particu-
larly complex.
Evidently not all nocturnal visits were as unwelcome as the one expe-
rienced by Guiberts mother; had they been so, indeed, the church would
havehad little di$
culty in convincing its 1
ock of their demonic origins. Some
people seem to have had rather more pleas ur able encounters, and it was
because
of this that the church had its work cut out for it. Experientially these two kinds
of dreams )hair- raising and erotic* are easily distinguished, but chie1
y because
one word, incubus, was employed to describe the source of both, the discur-
sive line between them was blurred in the Middle Ages.
Gervase of Tilburys
Otia Imperialia
, for instance, speaks of unclean spirits which are called in-
cubi, from their oppression )
incubatio
* of the mind; for they a=
ict peoples
minds in their sleep, making them believe they are falling from a height or
su"
ocating. . . . We have actually observed that some demons love women
with such passion that they break out into unheard-of acts of lewdness, and
when they come to bed with them they bear down upon them with extraor-
dinary pressure, and yet are seen by no one else.Ž
Gervase cites Apuleiuss
De deo Socratis
in support of his views, but their ultimate source is doubt-
less Augustines polemic against Apuleius in
e City of God
)a passage Le
Go"
has justly called the birth certi2
cate of the medieval incubus*: More-
over there is a very widespread report, corroborated by many people, either
through their own experience or through accounts of others of indubitably
good faith who have had the experience, that Silvans and Pans [var. fauns],
who are commonly called
incubi
, often misbehaved towards women and
succeeded in accomplishing their lustful desires to have intercourse [
con-
cubitum
] with them.Ž
So heavi ly did Augustines authority weigh upon
later tradition that it became almost impossible for medieval commentators
to distinguish between these two kinds of incubi simply in terms of their
functions.
Behind the academic incubus it is pos si ble to discern a popu lar tradition
analogous to Shawnas alien abductor. Augustine himself hints at such a folk-
loric dimension with his Silvans and Pans,Ž and signs of this association can
be detected in scholastic discourse throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.
It is no accident, for instance, that James the Sixths discussion of incubi oc-
curs in that section of his
Daemonologie
given over to  these kinde of spirites
that are called vulgarlie the FayrieŽ )p.*. Gervases interpretation of Augus-
tines Silvans and PansŽ is even more explicit: For, indeed, we know that
Incubi
Fairies 
twenty- eight- year- old Boston gradu ate student and bartender, had an experi-
ence similar to that of Guiberts mother: one night I woke up in the middle
of the night and couldnt move. I was 2 lled with terror and thought there was
an intruder in the house. I wanted to scream, but couldnt get any sound to
come outŽ;
explanation, however, involved an encounter not with the
enemy but with an alien from outer space.
On the other hand, Susan Clancy,
the Harvard psychologist to whom she reported this experience, accounted
for it rather di"
erently; Shawna, she believed, had been a victim of sleep pa-
ralysis, a condition that occurs when our sleep cycles become temporarily
desynchronized. Instead of moving seamlessly between sleeping and being
awake, we 2
nd ourselves in a limbo where the two states brie1
y overlap.Ž
As
we shall see, the competition between such popu lar and learned explanations
for this phenomenon has a very long history.
In the Middle Ages too such experiences prompted two kinds of interpre-
tation. An attempt to elucidate the popu lar account will occupy most of what
follows, but we might begin by noting that medieval academic explanations
fell into two distinct camps, the theological and the medical. As a churchman,
Guibert predictably believed that his mother had been visited by a demonic
incubus, but a member of the medical profession might have o"
ered a quite
er ent account: Skilled physicians call the nocturnal demon hot ague
epialtam
], saying that it comes from the squeezing of the heart when a man
sleeps on his back. At that time, the stomach extends to the area of the heart
which, if [the stomach] is 2
lled, the heart is compressed because the vital spirit
cannot be drawn o"
to the limbs.Ž
In his
Daemonologie
, James the Sixth ar-
gues that these two kinds of explanation, the theological and the physiologi-
cal, refer to two quite distinct kinds of experience and that the latter only
makes us
think
that there were some unnatural . . . spirit lying upon usŽ:
Phi[lomathes].
It is not the thing which we cal the
Mare
, which
takes folkes sleeping in their bedds, a kinde of these spirites,
whereof ye are speaking?
Epi[stemon].
No, that is but a naturall sicknes, which the Mediciners
hath giuen that name of
Incubus
vnto
ab incubando
, because it
being a thicke 1
eume, falling into our breast vpon the harte,
while we are sleeping, intercludes so our vitall spirites, and takes
all power from vs, as maks vs think that there were some
vnnaturall burden or spirite, lying vpon vs and holding vs
downe.
Incubi Fairies
Many old women, that then had more wit than those that are now
living and have lesse, sayd that a fayry had gotten her with childe;
and they bid her be of good comfort, for the childe must needes be
fortunate that had so noble a father as a fayry was.
„ Robin Good- Fellow, his mad prankes, and merry iests
)*
Sometime around the middle of the eleventh century, Guibert of Nogents
mother had a terrifying experience. Just before going to bed she had learned
that her husband had been captured by the Normans and was unlikely to be
ransomed: 
at same night a storm arose. Overwhelmed with anxious dread,
she was lying secure in her bed, when suddenly the Enemy, who has a habit
of plunging into souls lacerated by sorrow, crawled in with her as she lay awake
and nearly crushed her to death under his enormous weight. Her breath grew
tight, su"
ocating her; all freedom of movement left her limbs, and she could
not utter any sound. Her power to reason was mute but free, so she called upon
God, the only help she had.Ž Guiberts description of the response to this cry
for help is a little confused: a good spirit manifests itself and, after calling upon
Mary for aid, is able to drive the evil one from her bed„ Its strength from
God, the spirit threw down the devil with a tremendous crash.Ž
What ever
we make of her rescuer)s*, however, the nature of the experience itself and the
way she chooses to frame it are matters of some interest.
Terrifying as it must have been, Guiberts mothers experience was far from
unique. Many people, men as well as women and from a wide variety of cul-
tures, have reported the horri2
c feeling of awaking from sleep to 2
nd them-
selves para lyzed by an alien presence. Early in our pres ent century, Shawna, a
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
challenge to the dominant ideology )most of those who listened to stories
about fairies would have been horri2
ed to learn that they were not good
Christians*, but even if its re sis tance was spontaneous rather than considered,
it remained, as Gerson understood, something to be taken seriously. We our-
selves might do well to bear this in mind whenever we are tempted to think
of medieval fairy romances as nothing more than poetic escapism or magic as
simply a con ve nient plot device.
 (\t
Evidently some medieval authors )such as Geo"
rey Chaucer* were deeply
skeptical about the existence of fairies, but even Chaucer, when he ventrilo-
quizes a fairy legend )in
e Wife of Baths Tale
* or parodies it )in
e Tale of
Sir 
opas
*, was writing at a time when many of his contemporaries still took
fairies seriously, and this fact ought to make a di"
erence to the way we, as in-
formed readers, approach his poetry now. In practice, of course, this is far from
easy to do. It is all very well for me to claim that
Sir 
opas
is much more than
simply a stylistic parody, that its heros bizarre quest to 2
nd an elf queen throws
impor tant light on the poets own ideological stance, though for a modern
reader to recover this dimension of the tale
will require a considerable imagi-
native investment on her part. But it is surely not impossible, and perhaps early
modernists, better schooled in the new historicism than medievalists, may be
able to point us the way. Marjorie Swanns discussion of fairy lore in the po-
etry of Stuart Eng land, for instance, o"
ers an excellent illustration of why we
need to recognize that this literary mode was self- consciously topical and
politicizedŽ;
#54
by contrast, the medievalist Aisling Byrne, having made the sug-
gestive, and ideologically loaded, observation that romances make no attempt
to articulate a framework that explains or excuses the sexual morality of other-
worldly beings,Ž
#55
simply turns her attention to taboo as a narratological device.
e ac know ledg ment that fairies were serious business, an integral part,
as Gramsci might have said, of the folkloric common sense of medieval
people,
#56
does more than simply modify the generic or narratological assump-
tions we bring to medieval romance, then; it also carries impor tant ideological
implications that have been barely recognized hitherto.
#57
e 2
fteenth-
century Pa ri sian theologian Jean Gerson, for one, had no doubt that the liter-
ary discourse of fairyland was ideologically loaded. Demonic deceptions )ex
daemonum suggestione et illusioneŽ* lay at the heart of what Gerson regarded
as an alarming increase in superstition at the beginning of the 2
fteenth century,
so it is particularly signi2 cant that he took the concoctions of the poetsŽ [
ex
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
writes, citing Helge Gerndt, only if it is presented in the twilight zone of cre-
dence and doubt.Ž
#4%
As Elliott Oring, another folklorist, puts it, the narra-
tion of a legend is, in a sense, the negotiation of the truth of [its central
episode]. . . . It might be that a par tic u lar narrative is regarded as false, or true,
or false by some and true by others. 
e diversity of opinion does not negate
the status of the narrative as legend because, what ever the opinion, the truth
status of the narrative is what is being negotiated.Ž
#4+
ird )and most impor tant*, then, there is the ideological issue. When
Linda D
gh writes of belief as the given, under lying ideological foundation
of legends,Ž
#40
she imagines the modern legend as a medium for po liti cal en-
gagement )however loosely de2 ned*. Medieval fairy legends, given the far
greater gulf between the great and little traditions, were, I suggest, still more
ideologically loaded. 
e Marxist Antonio Gramsci fully recognized the po-
tential of folklore to resist the hegemonic constrictions of civil society, and this
insight is brilliantly exploited for the eigh teenth century inE.P. 
ompsons
Customs in Common
#43
Unfortunately, the historian of the Middle Ages is de-
nied the wealth of material that was available to 
ompson, but let me o"
er
here a single medieval illustration of what Gramsci termed the conditions of
cultural life of the people.Ž
#44
Jacques de Vitry )d. ca. * tells us that he had
encountered people in some areas who crossed themselves when they 2
rst met
a priest in the morning, saying that it was bad luck to cross paths with a priestŽ
dicentes quod malum omen est obviare sacerdoti
#45
the Dominican John Brom-
yard proves that the custom was still alive in mid- fourteenth- century Eng land
)he tells of a priest, angered by catching a woman crossing herself at the sight
of him, who tosses her into a ditch to prove her premonitions true*,
#46
and the
Benedictine Robert Rypon recounts a similar story involving a monk early in
the 2
fteenth century.
#47
is monastic variant is equally old )it is discussed
byPeter of Blois*
and equally widespread )it was still alive in 2
fteenth- century
France*.
#5#
We even 2 nd such unlucky encounters given a name in a late
fourteenth- century version of the
Manuel de P
: Evel fote he me
browhte.Ž
#5%

ere can be no question that the wonderfully parodic custom of
evil- footing stands, as Gramsci puts it, in opposition . . . to o$
cial concep-
tions of the world,Ž
#5+
nor could there be better illustration of the workings of
Gramscian hegemony than this glimpse of peasants employing the sign of the
cross to protect themselves from ecclesiastical o$
ciousness;
#50
clearly folklore
from this perspective is not to be considered an eccentricity, an oddity or a
picturesque ele ment, but as something which is very serious and is to be
taken seriously.Ž
 (\t
material, so that a romance such as
Melusine
will resemble a legend )
eine Sage
or, perhaps better, a combination and elaboration of several legends„ far more
closely than a fairy tale )
ein M
rchen
Not only is
Melusine
clearly based
on earlier short narratives that must once have circulated orally, but there is
every reason to suppose that they would have represented themselves as
histo-
rischer
)Gervase of Tilbury calls his version a true account, a
veredicta narra-
tione
#34
Interestingly, one of the
Melusine
authors was arguably himself a
proto- folklorist )Jean dArras may well have collaborated with two others on a
collection of old- wives tales called
vangiles des quenouilles
#35
and we have
seen that he tries to buttress his romances plausibility with personal anecdotes
that look very like what we would now term memorates. For the modern
reader to treat the fairy ele ments of a work such as
Melusine
as primarily
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
ary explanations„ the poetic )magic as a play of the imagination* nor the nar-
ratological )magic as a way of telling a story*„ gets to grips with this prob lem,
for both assume an irrationality that needs to be justi2
ed or explained away. 
consequences for literary analy sis, once we accept that the question of fairy be-
lief might have been a perfectly serious matter in the Middle Ages, are threefold.
First, there is the question of genre. For Helen Cooper, folktale and ro-
mance belong to quite separate discursive realms: the folklore history of fair-
ies has been the subject of much scholarship and more speculation, but lies
beyond the scope of this book. 
e question here is what kind of generic niche
was occupied by the fairy, and the fairy lady in par tic u lar, after her arrival on
the romance scene.Ž
#38
In this context, however, we should perhaps think less
of immutable literary genres provoking predictable responses in their readers
and more of genres that are to some degree controlled or de2
ned by reader
response. As Hans- Robert Jauss puts it, the history of genres in this perspec-
tive also presupposes re1
ection on that which can become vis i ble only to the
retrospective observer: . . . the historical as well as the aesthetic signi2
cance
of masterworks, which itself may change with the history of their e"
ects and
later interpretations, and thereby may also di"
erently illuminate the coher-
ence of the history of their genre.Ž
#3#
It is impor tant to recognize that our per-
ception of medieval romance itself, and not just its constitutive memes, is
historically contingent and has been deeply a"
ected by the changing history
of fairies. Speci2
cally, our generic horizon of expectation, as the
rezeption
 (\t
Out of the rofe she gan her dyght,
Openly before all theyr syght.
Johan fell frome her in that stounde,
And brak his thygh on the grounde.
And with her doughter she 1
ed her waye,
at never after she was isey. )lines …*
If the Plantagenets had once had a foundation myth similar to that of the
Lusignans, their fairy ancestor has been worked over far more thoroughly
than Melusine;
#03
the author of this dramatic scene, at least, displays open
collusion with the assumptions of the great tradition.
I have suggested a number of ways in which the great traditions
Kulturkampf against fairy beliefs are re1
ected in vernacular romance, but the
question of belief goes deeper than this. Most literary critics will share Helen
Coopers relative lack of interest in whether romance audiences actually be-
lieved in fairies: even in the pre- or early- modern period, the fairies of ro-
mance did not require belief, but they prob ably needed rather less suspension
of disbelief. What they do require is a recognition on the part of readers and
audiences that the real world cannot be reduced to the rational.Ž
#04
But, we
might counter, when belief in fairies could o"
er a reasonable explanation for
many things that would other wise have seemed inexplicable, rationality, in
this sense, must be viewed as every bit as historically contingent as belief.
Setting aside the question of whether rationality/irrationality might not be a
misleading binary to evoke in such contexts, implying as it does some version
of L
vy- Bruhls prelogical society,
#06
we would do well to remember that all
metaphysical beliefs, our own included, must be in some sense non- empiricist
and thus open to a charge of irrationality. When we apply this term to medi-
eval beliefs, then, we are not necessarily imputing a general failure of reason
to medieval people; we are simply expressing our disagreement with a set of
princi ples upon which they sometimes put reason to work. No one who has
followed Albertus Magnus wrestling with the prob lems of demonic insemi-
nation would dream of challenging his logic; it is not the deductive pro cess
but the acceptability of his premises that disturbs us. In this sense, then, me-
dieval people were no more irrational than we are. AsR.G. Collingwood puts
it, the common characteristic of [fairy] tales is their magical character. To
understand them means understanding magic: understanding why people be-
haved in the ways for which we use magic as a general term. Now if magical
be hav ior is irrational be hav ior, this cannot be done.Ž
#07
Neither of the usual liter-
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
And odur presys sloo.
To bren armettys was is dyssyre:
A powre wedow to seyt on fyre,
And werke hom mykyll woo. )lines …*
Both Tydorel and Gowther confront their mothers with the question of their
paternity. When Tydorel learns who his father is, he sets o"
to join him in the
forest. After Gowther discovers that he is the son of a 2
end, he sets o"
for
Rome to confess his sins to the pope. Only after a lengthy period of penance
can Gowther return to his homeland, where he rules wisely and where after
his death he receives a Christian burial.
Few fairy romances provide such a thoroughgoing illustration of cultural
compromise formation as
Sir Gowther
)though, as we shall see, the French
Robert le diable
has been even more thoroughly sanitized*, but it is not un-
common to encounter speci2
c details that betray the authors desire to demon-
strate his orthodoxy. At times this is clearly a perfectly conscious strategy,
but at others it looks more like the involuntary deference of the little tradi-
tion to hegemonic clerical models. 
us vernacular culture has no prob lem
imagining Christian fairies: Partonope is reassured to hear his invisible lady,
whose bed he happens to be sharing at the time, swear by the Virgin Mary,
and in much the same vein, Oberon pres ents Huon of Bordeaux with a magic
cup whose powers are activated by making the sign of the cross over it.
#0#
Yo-
necs father in Marie de Frances
lai
, despite living in an underground king-
dom and being able to turn himself at will into a hawk, feels the need to
protest to his lady that he is a true Christian, and
s fairy mistress is
similarly insistent on her own religious orthodoxy; indeed both are prepared
to display the soundness of their faith by receiving mass.
#0%
By contrast, in
Walter Maps account of
Henno cum dentibus
)an analogue to the
Melusine
story* we encounter a fairy bride who whenever she attends church always
nds an excuse to leave before the consecration of the host.
#0+
Similarly, when
Richard Is bride in the romance of
Richard the Lionheart
faints at the eleva-
tion of the host in their nuptial mass,
#00
we are immediately ready to suspect
her fairy origins, and our suspicions are con2
rmed when 2
fteen years later an
gret pousteŽ who has noticed her avoiding the mass tries to force her to
remain, with alarming consequences:
Sche took here dou
tyr in here hond,
And Johan her sone she wolde not wonde;
 (\t
Gowther, described at one point as eyvon Marlyon halfe brodurŽ )line *, is
fathered by the devil upon a childless Duchess of Austria )interestingly, like
Uther Pendragon, he assumes the appearance of her husband to accomplish
this*, but where Tydorels father is described as the most handsome man
inthe worldŽ [
li plus biaus hon du mont
] )line *, Gowthers soon reveals his
true colors: When he had is wylle all don, / A feltured fende he start up sonŽ
)lines …*. 
e o"
spring of these two unions lead very di"
er ent lives.
Tydorel grows up to be an ideal king of Brittany:
De Tydorel 2
rent seignor.
Onques norent e
meillor,
tant preu, tant cortois, tant vaillant,
tant large, ne tant despendant,
ne miex tenist em pes la terre
nus ne li osa fere guerre.
De puceles ert molt amez
e de dames molt desirrez,
li sien lamoient et servoient,
e li estrang
le cremoient. )lines …*
 ey made Tydorel their lord. 
ey had never had a better, nor
one so gallant, courteous, brave, generous, and open- handed, nor
one who better kept the peace of the land so that no one dared
make war upon him. Much loved by maidens and desired by ladies,
his people loved and served him, and outsiders feared him.]
Gowther, in contrast, when he becomes Duke of Austria, immediately insti-
tutes a reign of terror; in addition to indiscriminate rape and murder, he takes
par tic u lar plea sure in pushing friars o"
cli"
s and setting 2
re to hermits:
All that ever on Cryst con lefe,
Yong and old, he con hem greve
In all that he myght doo.
Meydyns maryage wolde he spyll
And take wy"
us ageyn hor wyll,
And sley hor husbandus too.
And make frerus to leype at kraggus
And persons forto heng on knaggus,
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
back as far as the opening lines of
e Wife of Baths Tale
#+3
e villa gers of
Domr
my used just such a tactic for de1
ecting the curiosity of inquisitors away
from issues of current belief, and at an early date it had clearly hardened into
a widely deployed defense mechanism. Similarly, the way its magical domain
is always displaced to a distant past appears symptomatic of the pressure ex-
erted on popu lar romance by clerical disapproval: In Bretayne bi hold time /
is layes were wrou
is rime.Ž
us fairy romances generally em-
ploy a once- upon- a- time )
jadis
* setting that helps insulate them from con-
temporary censure: En Bretaigne ot .I. roi jadisŽ )
Guingamor
, line *; Un
vavasur i out jadisŽ )
, line *; Jadis au tens quArtur regnaŽ )
Tyolet
line *.
#+5
e far- o"
time of King Arthur, of course, serves this purpose par-
ticularly well, but in
Sir Orfeo
the classical world provides a similarly safe
haven for fairy encounters )a tactic parodied by Chaucer at the end of
Merchants Tale
*. In much the same vein, Oberon in the
Huon of Bordeaux
cycle is said to be the son of Julius Caesar, though he lives long enough to
encounter both Arthur and Charlemagne. So too fairies are often displaced
in space as well as time: Huon of Bordeaux 2
rst encounters Oberon in Arabia;
Melior, the fairy mistress of Partonopeu de Blois, comes from Byzantium and
abducts her lover while he is hunting in Ardern )the Ardennes*; and the
Ardennes is the site of another fairy abduction in
Reinbrun
, a continuation of
Guy of Warwick
. Interestingly, other genres do not exhibit a similar tendency
to displacement: the fabliau
Le Chevalier qui  st parler les con
s and Adam de
la Halles farce
Jeu de la feuill
, both of which employ fairy agency, show no
such aversion to a con temporary setting or a recognizable location. No doubt
humor, as in the case of Chaucers
Sir 
opas
, served to defuse di$
cult
questions of orthodoxy and belief.
nal way in which romance writers might respond to clerical disap-
proval was to collude with it.  e most dramatic example is to be found in
the works of Robert de Boron, but since Merlins fairy/demon paternity is dis-
cussed at length in the next chapter, I illustrate this point here by reference to
Sir Gowther
#+6
In the Breton lai of
Tydorel
a queen of Brittany, after ten years
of childless marriage, is seduced by a handsome knight who lives in secret deep
in the forest. It is made quite clear that this knight is a fairy, and their child,
Tydorel, betrays his fairy paternity by his inability to sleep at night.
#+7
)Inter-
estingly, the non- cyclic prose
Lancelot
applies this characteristic to dev ils: car
deiables ne puet dormir.Ž*
#08
e popu lar romance of
Robert the Dev il
, found
throughout Eu rope and appearing in Eng land as
Sir Gowther
, is clearly a
sanitized retelling, if not of this speci2
c romance, then of one very like it.
 (\t
Petitcr
, the dog from El1
and that Tristram sends as a pres ent to Ysolt, is simi-
larly elusively polychrome: no one could relate or rec ord its shape or appear-
ance, for however one looked at the dog it displayed so many colors that no
one could discern or 2 x them.Ž
#%5
In Malory the ring that Lyones lends to
Sir Gareth for the tournament at the Castel Peryllous magically endows him
with a similar quality: at one tyme he semed grene, and another tyme at his
gayne- commyng hym semed blewe. And thus at every course that he rode too
and fro he chonged whyght to rede and blak, that there myght neyther kynge
nother knyghte have no redy cognysshauns of hym.Ž
#%6
Predictably, King
Aufreus is joined in the bed by the lady of the castle, who with fairy prescience
predicts that the issue of their union will be the great knight Generides. Every-
thing in this opening scene, in other words, suggests that we are dealing with a
fairy encounter, yet pointedly the words fairy and elf are never used.
e fashion, associated in En glish scholarship particularly with Roger
Sherman Loomis, for uncovering hidden Celtic motifs in medieval romance
has long passed,
#%7
and while I have no desire to resurrect it here, the fact
remains that earlier scholars often made a plausible case for suppressed fairy
ele ments, not only in fair- unknown romances )the En glish
Sir Percyvell of
, for example*
#+8
but also in the world of medieval romance in general.
When Lancelot in the
Chevalier de la charete
crosses the sword bridge into
Melegeances kingdom of Gorre, is he not really passing into a fairy realm,
and when Yvain marries Laudine, the Lady of the Fountain, in the
Chevalier
au lion
, is he not marrying into a fairy lineage? Admittedly such readings are
unprovable, particularly with a writer whose uneasiness with folkloric beingsŽ
is as patent as Chr
tiens,
#+#
but the campaign of cultural repression I have been
trying to sketch o"
ers at the very least a plausible context for them. Similarly,
one need not accept Jessie Westons far- fetched theories of displaced pre-
Christian rituals in order to recognize that medieval grail romances sometimes
reveal clear evidence of a substratum of fairy lore: the black knights with 1
am-
ing lances who appear in the
Perlesvaus
, for instance,
#+%
look very like the
arzei
)feu- follets?* described by
tienne de Bourbon;
#++
and at least one text, the
enigmatic
Elucidation,
attributes the scourge of the Wasteland to human vio-
lation of fairy hospitality.
#+0
Suppression is only one of the ways in which medieval writers display their
uneasiness with folkloric beings.Ž Another is displacement, both temporal and
geo graph i cal. Keith 
omas, discussing the views of early modern writers such
as Reginald Scot, Sir William Temple, and John Aubrey, remarks that it seems
that commentators have always attributed [fairies] to the past,Ž a move he traces
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
under gone bowdlerization is suggested by the fact that the line With false
lies and fayreŽ appears in another manuscript )B.L., MS Cotton CaligulaA.
II* as Wyth fantasme and feyrye.Ž
#%8
e disenchantment of the fairy world we encounter in
Lybeaus Desconus
may be seen as part of a larger pattern,
#%#
for while the deliberate suppression
of fairy ele ments is not often exposed to view as clearly as in the Rawlinson
manuscript of
Degarr
#%%
a similar pro cess may be suspected in several ro-
mances that lack a de2
nite source. 
e couplet version of
ers an
especially clear example.
#%+
In the opening scene King Aufreus, following a
mysterious hart while out hunting, is led to a palace deep in the woods, where
he meets a beautiful lady. In early romances women encountered in such mys-
terious silvan settings )Melusine, for example* are often explic itly identi2
ed
as fairies, and here the fairy atmosphere is enhanced by the absence of a vis i-
ble house hold in the palace )as happens in
Guingamor
Tydorel
Partonopeu of
Blois
, and others*:
#%0
the lady is accompanied by only a single maid and an old
man, and elles he saw no moo meigneyŽ )*. Even more telling is the
pillow Aufreus 2
nds when he is led to a bedchamber:
In noo lond marchaunt ther nys
at devise it couth I- wis.
An hundreth sith in day and night
Chaunge it wil his colour bright;
Oft it was white, and oft grene.
Oft reid, and oft blew, I wene,
To all coloures it would chaunge;
 at was to the king ful straun[ge]. )lines …*
e general association of rich cloth with fairy work was a romance common-
place,
#%3
but this par tic u lar type of chromatic instability was speci2
cally as-
sociated with fairies. When the narrator encounters the protean 2 gure of
Prevy 
oughtŽ in the late 2
fteenth- century allegory
e Court of Love,
he
is immediately reminded of fairyland:
Yon is,Ž thought [I], som spirit or som elf,
His sotill image is so curious:
How is,Ž quod I that he is shaded thus
With yonder cloth, I not of what colour?Ž )lines …*
#%4
 (\t
Degarr
belongs to a group of romances that employ the fair unknown
motif.
##3
 at the heros noble pedigree should be obscured by his fairy
parentage„ either a father )as in
Degarr
* or a mother )as in
Le Bel Inconnu
*„
conforms closely to Jamesons hypothesis about the role of magic in romance,
since this meme )to use Coopers term* functions primarily to reinforce class
solidarity )despite his obscure upbringing, and sometimes deliberate countermea-
sures on the part of his mother, the hero always adapts naturally to the de-
mands of the chivalric life*. Pressure from the great tradition meant that such
connections were always liable to be suppressed.
Lybeaus Desconus
##4
the En glish
adaptation of Renaut de Beaujeus early thirteenth- century
Le Bel Inconnu
ers a particularly good example. In the French original the hero, Gu-
inglain, the product of a liaison between Gawain and the fairy Blancemal
)line *, is torn between his attraction for two women: a fairy seductress,
the Pucele as Blances Mains; and a human queen )whom Guinglain rescues
from enchantment*, the Blonde Esmeree.
##5
In this battle between the com-
peting sides of his nature, Li Biaus Descoune
nally submits to the dynastic
imperative and, with Arthurs encouragement, marries Esmeree. In contrast, the
fteenth- century Middle En glish adaptation of this romance removes all the
fairy allusions: there is no hint that the mother who begets Gyngelayne vnder
a forest sydeŽ is anything other than Gawains human mistress.
##6
Similarly,
the Pucele as Blances Mains ) here called the Dame dAmour* o"
ers Gynge-
layne nothing more than a brief distraction on his quest to rescue the Blonde
Esmeree ) here called the Lady of Synadowne*; the only suggestion that she has
any otherworldly associations is the remark that she
Cowthe more of sorcerye
 an other suche fyve;
Whan he sawe hir face
Hym thought that he was
Jn paradice on lyve;
With false lies and fayre
[u]s she blered his eye:
Evill mote she thryue9
##7
e accusation of sorcery )as we shall see later with
Partonope of Blois
* was a
way of rationalizing and repressing fairy discourse, and that this passage has
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
Jean dArras had a power ful patron and evidently felt comfortable dis-
cussing fairy phenomena quite openly, but some writers and copiers of popu-
lar romances display rather more circumspection. I recall once teaching
Sir
Degarr
and remarking on the heros fairy paternity, only to have my students
complain that there was nothing in the text to support this. 
e source of our
disagreement became clear as soon as I realized that I had been citing the poem
from an edition based on the early fourteenth- century Auchinleck Manuscript
)Advocates Library of Scotland, MS ..*,
while the text the students had
been reading was based on the much later Bodley, MS Rawlinson Poet. .
##%
When Degarr
s father encounters his mother- to-be deep in the woods, his
2 rst speech to her, according to the Auchinleck Manuscript, is,
Damaisele, welcome mote
ou be9
Be
ou afered of none wih
te;
Iich am comen here a fairi kny
Mi kynde is armes for to were,
On horse to ride wi
scheld and spere;
i afered be
ou nowt[.] )lines …*
However, the same passage in the Rawlinson manuscript reads,
Madame, God the see;
Be noughtt adrad, thou swete wyght,
Y am come to the as a knyght;
My kynd ys armys for to bere,
On horss to ryde wyth scheld and spere,
Be dradd of me ryght noughtt[.] )lines …*
A similar suppression occurs in another 2 fteen- century manuscript of the
poem )Cambridge University, MS Ff. II. *.

ere can be little doubt that
the Rawlinson scribe )or an intermediate scribe in the textual tradition* has
deliberately bowdlerized this passage: not only is the reference to fairyland sup-
pressed, but in addition the knight now greets the lady in Gods name. Lest
we should be tempted to ascribe this to a simple scribal slip, a few lines later,
when the lady abandons her newborn child, she furnishes him with a suitable
identi2
cation token; in the Auchinleck MS it is a paire of gloues /
at here lem-
man here sent of fairi londeŽ )lines …*,
##0
but in Rawlinson this becomes
simply a peyr of glovys / Hur lemman to hur for to sondeŽ )lines …*.
 (\t
like John of Bridlington might be credited with prophetic powers.
#84
If we add
to this the fact that no less an authority than Augustine allowed that demons
might enjoy a certain limited degree of foresight,
#85
we may come to under-
stand how even William of Auvergne could attribute prescience to some-
one from Great Britain [evidently Merlin] who was reputed to be the son of
an incubus demonŽ [qui in majori Britannia 2
lius d
monis incubi fuisse dici-
tur]: Now this man was held to be a seer in that land, in that he seemed to
have prophetically foretold many future things; not without merit might it be
believed that he received this from his upbringing or paternal instruction, for
it is certain that demons know many things about the future and other hidden
matters, and sometimes reveal them to others, especially their sonsŽ [autem
propheta in eadem regione habitus est, eo quod multa de futuris vaticinatus
fuisse visus est prophetice; ex instructione, vel doctrina paterna hoc accepisse
non immerito credi potest, multa enim de futuris, etaliis absconditis, certum
est nosse d
mones, et interdum aliis, nedum 2 liis, revelare].
#86
Such points of tension between the clerical and the popu lar views of fair-
ies had some impor tant consequences for the way fairies came to be portrayed
in romance. A few authors take the bull by the horns and assert un1 inchingly
that the fairy realm is fully compatible with Chris tian ity. For instance, in a
description of the death of Oberon )based on an early continuation of
Huon
of Bordeaux
* we might almost imagine that we are reading the apotheosis of
a Christian martyr rather than the last moments of a fairy king: king Oberon
drewe faste to his laste end, who lay in a ryche cowche in the myddes of his
palayes makyng his prayers to our lorde Iesu cryste, and holdynge Huon by the
hande, and at laste sayde, my dere frende Huon, pray for me / then he made
the synge of y
cros recommendyng his sowle to god, the which incontynent
was borne in to paradyce by a greate multytude of angelles sent fro our lord
Iesu cryst, who at ther depertynge made such shynynge and clerenes in y
pa-
lays that ther was neuer none suche sene before / and there with there was so
swete a smell that euery man thought they had bene rauysshed in to paradyse,
wherby they knewe suerly that kynge Oberons sowle was saued.Ž
#87
ough
Melusines spirit, by contrast, must su"
er greuouse and obscure penytenceŽ
until Doomsday, this is due less to her fairy nature than to her husbands bad
faith; had he not broken his word, she suggests, she too might have made a
good end: [I] shuld haue had al my ryghtes, hadd lyued the cours natu ral
as another woman; shuld haue be buryed, aftir my lyf naturel expired,
within the chirche of our lady of Lusynen, where myn obsequye afterward
my annyuersary shuld haue be honourably deuoutely don.Ž
##8
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
her cleverness, and even John of Salisbury reports that some people thought
that Aristotle was the son of an incubus demon because of the clarity of his
mind.Ž
#88
From here it is only a short step to associating fairies with prescience.
Merlin, the most celebrated of medieval seers, was the son of a fairy/in-
cubus, and Geo"
rey of Monmouths attribution of prophetic powers to him
was a par tic u lar source of irritation for William of Newburgh: 
ey [demonic
incubi] are often deceived and deceive by their guesses, though they are quite
sophisticated, but by means of trickery in their predictions they lay claim
amongst naive people to a foreknowledge of the future which they do not at
all possess.Ž
#8#
Merlins Scottish counterpart, 
omas of Erceldoune, acquired
the gift of prophesy on his return from a visit to fairyland: 
omas,
ou sall
neuer lesynges lye, / Whare euer
ou fare by frythe or felle.Ž
#8%
It is sometimes
forgotten that the narrative portion of
omas of Erceldoune
)the visit to fairy-
land* is merely a prologue to an extended set of actual prophesies. Similarly, the
account of a strange fairy encounter )ay litel man y mette withalleŽ* that is
appended to an early fourteenth- century manuscript of Langtofts
Chronicle
serves to introduce a rival set of po liti cal prophesies.
#8+
We have seen that when
the French courtier Antoine de la Sale visited the reputed cave of the prophetic
Sybil in the Italian province of Marche in , he naturally conceived of it in
terms of a visit to fairyland.
#80
fteenth- century recension of the
Second Lu-
cidaire
)itself an early fourteenth- century version of the popu lar theological
handbook the
Elucidarium
* proves that the association between fairies and
fortune- telling was commonplace:
e sayd feyryes sayd
e people were destenyed
e one vnto good
at other to yll after
e course of heuen and of nature, as a chylde
borne in suche an houre at suche a course he was destenyed to be
hanged or drowned, or
at he sholde be ryche or poore, or
at he
sholde wedde suche a woman,
e whiche thynges ben false. For the
man hath in hymselfe lyberall arbytre and fre wyll to do good or ylle
in suche wyse
at yf he wyll, he shall do nothynge wherfore he sholde
be hanged, ne yet put hym in
e daunger to be drowned; nor also he
shall not marye a woman, but yf he wyll, and so [hir] destynacyons
shall be false. By
these reasons a man sholde put to no fayth.
#83
One might have thought that such o$
cial condemnation would have been uni-
versal, but in an age that took astrology particularly seriously, an appetite for
prophesy must have been di$
cult to stamp out, and even a pious churchman
 (\t
faunus quidam in proelio quodam interfectus fuit sagittis, cum aliter non possit
vinci]; this creature cannot really have been a faun, says William, since all spirits
of this kind are indubitably immortal )cum omnes huiusmodi spiritus indubi-
tanter immortales sintŽ*. Interestingly, one of his alternative explanations is that
the faun might have been one of those warriors who are commonly said to be
fairied Ž [unus ex militibus qui vulgo fatati dicuntur],
though what precisely
he means by this is unclear.
In a later discussion he argues that any fairy who
appears to engage in human activities such as warfare, jousting, or feasting can
only be a demonic illusion since immortal spirits cannot be harmed by weapons
and have no need of food.
In the same vein, John Trevisa uses Merlins mortal-
ity as proof that he could not have had a fairy )demonic* father:
ere my
te childe non suche deye.
Clergie make
mynde
Dee
slee
t fendes kynde;
But deth slowe Merlyn,
Merlyn was ergo no gobelyn.
Oberon )like Merlin and indeed Melusine*, a fairy half caste, is particularly in-
ter est ing from this viewpoint, for the En glish translation of
Huon of Bordeaux
based on a 2
fteenth- century prose version, feels compelled to have him explain
that his mortality derives from his human father )Julius Caesar* even though
other fairies )his own mother for example* are immortal: ye knowe that euery
mortall thynge cannot alwayes endure / I speke it for my owne selfe who am sone
to a mortall man, and was engendered on the ladye of the preuye Ile who can
neuer dye, bycause she is one of the fairy engendered of a man of the fayrey and
doughter to a woman of the fayrey.Ž

ere is nothing of this in the thirteenth-
century verse original, however,
and though Harf- Lancner takes such romance
references to fairy immortality at face value,
I suspect they are really conces-
sions to the theological objections of men such as William of Auvergne.
nal popu lar attribute of fairies that caused di$
culties for theologians
was their association with arcane knowledge, particularly the knowledge of
future events. 
e little tradition seems often to have associated exceptional
psychic powers with fairies and those who consorted with them: the non- cyclic
prose
Lancelot
explains that Niniene was said to be a fairy because in those
days anyone who knew about magic and charms was called a fairyŽ [a celui
tens estoient apelees fees totes iceles qui savioent danchantement et de chaies].
We have seen that Du Guesclins wife was rumored to be a fairy because of
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
without sleep is speci2
cally said to be a mark of his fairy paternity.
e ex-
istence of Middle En glish surnames such as Elfeg, Fayrey, and Wudewuse im-
plies that this belief was not restricted to the pages of romance, however, and
one remarkable document, a deposition in the trial of Bishop Guichard of
Troyes in , con2
rms this; among other things it was claimed that Guichard
was the son of a fairy )a
 (\t
e author of the non- cyclic prose
Lancelot
, though keen to rationalize fairies
as demons, apparently has no di$
culty imagining them as hot and lustful )il
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
prescience. None of these qualities is easy to reconcile with the notion that
fairies were really demons, and as a result medieval demonologists spilled a
great deal of ink trying to 2
nd ways to rationalize them.
Fairies are evidently highly sexed, and their relations with humans are
often frankly voluptuous. 
e En glish translator of
Partonope of Blois
, for
example, lingers sensuously over his heros 2 rst physical encounter with his
fairy mistress.
It takes him four hundred lines to get Melior from the bed-
room door to the moment of her 2
nal surrender, and the description of the
climax )which, despite the fact that the whole encounter has been stage man-
aged by Melior herself, comes uncomfortably close to rape* is as graphic as
anything in the fabliau:
Hys arme "
reshely he ouer her caste,
And she hyt su"
ered pasyentlye.
an sayde sho to hym full mekely:
For
e loue of Gode, I praye yowe lette be.Ž
And wyth
at worde a- none ganne he
In hys armes her faste to hym brase.
And fulle softely
en sho sayde: Allas9Ž
And her legges sho gan to knytte,
And wyth hys knees he gan hem on- shote.
And
er- wyth- all she sayde: Syr, mercy9Ž
He wolde not lefe ne be
er- by;
For of her wordes toke he no hede;
But
ys a- way her maydenhede
e he
en rafte, and ge"
e her hys. )lines …*
is par tic u lar scene evidently expresses a brand of male wish- ful2
llment, but
there are others in which masculine fairy lovers are embraced by human women
with equal ardor:
La dame la molt esgard
e son semblant e sa biaut
angoisseusement laama
 e lady gazed at him intently, at his bearing and his beauty, and
she loved him cruelly].
 (\t
he must be from fairyland because he is so handsome: 
emperour wend
witerly, for won der of
at child, /
ely it were of feyrye for fairenes
it weltŽ
e beauty of fairies seems to have been proverbial: in the Anglo-
Norman
Lai du Cor
, for instance, Caradocs wife is described as resembling a
fairyŽ because of her beauty;
e Wars of Alexander
describes Candace as be-
ing so faire so fresche as . . . an elfe oute of an- othire erdeŽ;
and even John
Gower describes his lady as possessing la bealt
plus qe faie.Ž
Interestingly,
when Guillaume de Lorris describes Venus as being so elegant that she
resembled a fairy, the Chaucerian translation alters this to
Bi hir atyr so bright and shen
Men myght perceyve . . .
She was not of religioun [that is, she was no nun9].
Of course fairies are shape- shifters by nature )Yonecs father in Marie de Frances
lai
turns himself into a hawk in order to visit his human lover*,
so it was a
simple matter for the great tradition to represent their beauty as mere outward
show. Not that we should necessarily assume that whenever a fairy in romance
takes on a frightening new form )Melusines transformation into a dragon, for
instance, or the dramatic moment when 
omas of Erceldounes fairy mistress
fadyde
us in
e face, /
at schane by fore als
e sonne so bryghtŽ*
there has
necessarily been interference from the great tradition. Gerald of Wales tells of a
man called Meilerius whose experience is reminiscent of 
omass; after he had
sexually assaulted a fairy, in place of a beautiful girl, he found a vile, rough,
hairy, and grotesquely deformed shapeŽ [loco puellae formosae, formam quan-
dam villosam, hispidam, et hirsutam, adeoque enormiter deformem invenit].
Fairies may be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous, particularly when their
prohibitions are ignored or )as is the case with both 
omas and Meilerius*
when their persons are violated, so the little tradition was quite capable of imag-
ining such violent metamorphoses without any outside help.
Be that as it may,
the fact remains that despite the insistence of the great tradition that fairies were
in real ity hideous demons, the little tradition stubbornly maintained the default
position that they were creatures of surpassing beauty.
While many other ele ments in the popu lar conception of fairy nature
)such as youthfulness, courtliness, and con spic u ous wealth* must have galled
representatives of the great tradition, four things caused them par tic u lar dif-
culties: the overt sexuality of fairies; their fecundity; their mortality; and their
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
amine the way the romances themselves re1
ect this hostile campaign and ex-
press their re sis tance to it. I do not mean to suggest, of course, that all demons
in the Middle Ages should be reread from the viewpoint of vernacular culture
as fairies )though such a transposition can account for a surprisingly large
corner of the 2
eld of medieval demonology*,
but we should notice that wher-
ever there was an obvious semantic overlap it generated a fascinating kind of
cultural schizo phre nia in the romances.
Consider descriptions of the physical appearance of these creatures, for
instance. Imagined as demons )so long as they are not out to deceive us with
specious beauty*, they naturally appear hideous. Caesarius of Heisterbach tells
us of a knight who did not believe in demons )daemones esse dubitaretŽ* until
shown one by a nigromancer: Fi nally, he observed in a nearby grove, a foul
human form, like a shadow, towering over the top of the trees. . . . He was like
a huge man, the hugest and blackest imaginable, dressed in a smoky garment,
and so misshapen that the knight couldnt bear to look at himŽ [Novissime
vero contemplabatur in nemore vicino quasi umbram humanum tetram, sum-
mitatem arborum excedentem. . . . Erat autem quasi magnus vir, imo max-
imus et nigerrimus, vesteque subnigra indutus, et tantae deformitatis, ut in
eum miles respicere non posset].
By contrast, when the little tradition re-
ports encounters with fairies, they are invariably beautiful. Here is how Sir
Launfals fairy mistress Triamour is described, for instance:
Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May,
Or snow that snewe
yn wynterys day„
He seygh neuer non so pert.
e rede rose, whan sche ys newe,
ens her rode nes nau
t of hewe,
J dar well say, yn sert.
Her here schon as gold wyre;
May no man rede here atyre,
Ne nau
t wel
enke yn hert. )lines …*
In the same spirit, Aucassin searching for Nicolette in the forest hears of her
from some shepherds: une pucele vint ci, li plus bele riens du monde, si que
nos quidames que ce fust une fee, et que tot cis bos en enclarciŽ [a maid was
here, the most beautiful thing in the world, so that we thought she was a fairy,
and she illuminated the whole wood].
When the emperor of Rome encoun-
ters the foundling William of Palerne in the woods, his 2
rst thought is that
 (\t
adont mult publementŽ [she ruled for a long time, until the pope forbade, on
pain of excommunication, anyone to study nigromancy; at that time the
hymn called
Te lucis ante terminum
was written and sung at Compline to guard
us against phantoms, for at that time fairies ruled quite openly].
To judge
from John the Carpenters attempt to
crouch
Nicholas from elves and fro
wightesŽ in Chaucers
Millers Tale
, this well- known Latin hymn, or at least
its substance, had been thoroughly assimilated into popu lar culture by the end
of the fourteenth century:
erwith the nyght- spel seyde he anon- rightes
On foure halves of the hous aboute,
And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
Jhesu Crist and Seinte Benedight,
Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
For nyghtes verye, the white
pater- noster
9Ž )lines …*
What ever precisely
nyghtes verye
means, the phrase is evidently, pace Donald-
son,
a homespun counterpart to the great Latin hymns
noctium phantasmata
Once again Joan of Arcs nulli2
cation proceedings o"
er us a glimpse of
the work of this Kulturkampf at ground level. Jean Morel, a laborer, recalls
hearing that women and fairies )persone fatales, que vocabantur
Ž* used
to dance beneath the tree in the old days but says that after St.Johns Gospel
was read aloud they do not go there anymore )postquam evangelium beati
Johannis legitur et dicitur, amplius not vaduntŽ*.
Beatrice Estellin, a laborers
widow, says that she well remembers the time )on the eve of the Ascension*
when the priest carried crosses through the 2
elds, went beneath the tree, and
read the Gospel )pp.…*. 
is lesson was not lost on another laborer,
Simonin Musnier: he has heard that fairies used to go there in the old days,
he says, not that he himself has ever seen any sign of any evil spirits )quam-
vis nunquam vidit aliqua signa de aliquibus malignis spiritibusŽ* )p.*. In-
terestingly, the local priest, Jean Colin, is the only inhabitant of Domr
my
and the nearby village of Greux who claims to know nothing whatsoever about
any Fairy Tree )dixit se nichil scireŽ*.
No doubt the church found the obduracy of peasant belief frustrating,
but the extent to which aristocratic romance was pervaded by the marvelous
in the later Middle Ages must have provided the great tradition with a rather
er ent kind of challenge. In the next chapter we will be exploring in greater
detail its systematic demonization of fairy beliefs, but for now I wish to ex-
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
were accustomed to seeing armies of demons passing by and sometimes 2
ght-
ing among themselves )videre solebant . . . exercitus demoniorum transeun-
cium etalioquociens inter se compugnanciumŽ*, a sight that caused many of
them to fall sick and die. 
is seems to be a rare expression of a popu lar belief,
re1
ected in Titanias speech at the beginning of
A Midsummer Nights Dream
that human misfortunes may be caused by disruptions in the fairy world: And
this same progeny of evils comes / From our debate, from our dissensionŽ ). i*.
Similar fairy hosts are encountered elsewhere: William of Auvergne devotes
part of a chapter to the topic;
Gerald of Waless
Expugnatio Hibernica
de-
scribes Speris and sparris rutlynge to- giddyr, wyth cryynge so grymly, that
none ende was Of elf fareŽ;
and John Capgrave reports that in in Bed-
ford and Biggleswade there appered certeyn men of dyuers colouris, renninge
oute of wodes and fytyng horibily. 
is was seyne on morownyngis and at
mydday, and whan men folowid to loke what it was, thei coude se rite nawt.Ž
However, I know of none that is claimed to have the same direct human re-
percussions. In this case OQuinns remedy is to preach a sermon in which he
construes the plague as Gods punishment for the villa gers imperfect Chris-
tian faith and challenges the demons to come out and take him on )Veniant,
inquit, demones si audent, et omnes veniant9 Quare non veniunt? Quid faci-
unt? Ubi sunt?Ž*. 
eir inevitable failure to appear wins the friars yet another
victory in their ongoing campaign against the fairy world: Et ecce ab illa hora
evanuerunt demones, ita quod nunquam postea in terra illa apparueruntŽ [and,
lo, from that moment the demons vanished, so that never again did they ap-
pear in that region].
Unsurprisingly, in the eyes of the mendicants the churchs main weapon
against the fairies was preaching, but there can be no doubt that routine work
proceeded less dramatically at a parochial level. 
e pastoral manuals that pro-
liferated throughout Eu rope after the Fourth Lateran Council generally in-
clude such popu lar superstitions as witchcraft, sorcery, nigromancy, and
sortilegium in their treatment of the First Commandment, and though ex-
plicit fairy beliefs are only occasionally listed in such a context, it is clear that
ou shalt have no other gods before meŽ provided the justi2
cation for the
churchs routine o"
ensive against them.
Jean dOutremeuse, in his fanciful
Myreur des histors
)written toward the end of the fourteenth century*, describes
the fairy castle of Plaisant, built by Morgan, and concludes, Asseis regnoit,
jusqu
tant que li pape defendit, sour paine de excommunication, que nuls
nestudiast [ni]gremanche; fut faite et chantee adont I ympne
complie pour
gardeir des fantasiez, con appelle
Te lucis ante terminum
, car les feez regnoient
 (\t
at serchen every lond and every streem,
As thikke as motes in the sonne- beem,
Blessynge halles, chambres, kichenes, boures,
Citees, burghes, castels, hye toures,
ropes, bernes, shipnes, dayeryes,
is maketh that ther been no fayeryes. )lines …*
Chaucer illustrates the typical mendicant understanding of fairy encounters
when he has a summoner  under a forest sydeŽ chance upon a gay yemanŽ
wearing a courtepy of greneŽ in
e Friars Tale
)lines …*; we might ex-
pect this shape- shifting yeoman )lines …* to be a fairy, but as the friar
explains, he is really a 2
end who dwells in hell )lines …*.
An anecdote
in a mid- thirteenth- century Dominican exemplum collection has sometimes
been cited to illustrate the mendicant war on fairy belief:
two friars, sent to
preach in the Scottish Isles, 2
nd fairies )spiritus incubiŽ* abusing the young
women there, but after being instructed in the faith, the women 2
nd them-
selves able to resist these demons )quo facto, venerunt demones comminantes
mulieribus et eis invadere more solito attemptantes, licet non poterant prev-
alereŽ*, which are last heard of howling through the ether )auditus est ulultatus
et eiulatus magnus in aereŽ*. Medieval people would generally have understood
the term incubi demons to refer to fairies, at least down to the 2
fteenth century
)as we shall see in the next chapter*, but in fact wherever we encounter accounts
of friars triumphing over
demones
who inhabit woods and groves or ride about
in mounted bands, it is reasonable to suppose that we are witnessing a skir-
mish in their campaign against traditional fairy beliefs.
A story in the early fourteenth- century
Scala Coeli
, for instance, shows
Dominicans wrestling with a di"
er
ent aspect of fairy possession: two friars,
lost in the mountains of Ireland, encounter a small man, who, they discover,
had been in the ser vice of demons for thirty years and who bore their mark
on his hands; these demons visit him in vari ous forms, and he is forced to do
what ever they command )triginta annis demonibus hic servivi, homagium
eis feci, et sigillum in meis manibus porto, visitant mei in diversis 2
guris, et
quicquid precipiunt facio semperŽ*; as soon as he has been confessed by the
friars, however, the mark dis appears, and he can be left alone in a grove to
survive unscathed an encounter with a mounted fairy host )cum magnis
equitaturis . . . venisset demonŽ*.
Even more in ter est ing is the Franciscan
omas OQuinns account of a plague in mid- thirteenth- century Clonfert,
Ireland:
car ters and men working the 2
elds or walking in the woods, he says,
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
Des puceles une esforcha,
Sor son pois le despucela,
Li roiaumes si agasti
Kains puis ni ot arbre fuelli;
Li pre et les 1
or[s] essecierent
 (\t
perfectly ready to believe in such sylvans )or rather in their own demonic rei-
magination of them as
succubi
*, no longer regarded penance alone as su$
cient to counter the danger of heterodox beliefs; they were quite prepared to
condemn to death those who held such views: the only pos si ble way for
these and similar practices to be remedied is for the judges who are respon-
sible for the sorceresses to get rid of them or at least punish them as an ex-
ample for all posterity.Ž
e state of hostility, or at least deep suspicion, existing between repre-
sentatives of the great tradition and those espousing such aspects of the little
tradition as a belief in fairies is one of the major themes of this book. For
me, its presence permeates medieval romance and helps us to disambiguate
what James Wade has termed the ambiguous super natu ralŽ of medieval fairy-
land.
While Le Go" s characterization might possibly apply to later works
such as Spensers
Faerie Queene
, most fourteenth- and 2
fteenth- century ro-
mances, still energized by this contested ideology, o"
er us something quite
er ent from the beauty of a corpse.Ž
Such a contest can be detected even in a writer as thoroughly imbued
with the ideology of the great tradition as Geo"
rey Chaucer.
When Chaucer
turns to the discourse of fairyland to explore gender relations in
e Wife of
Baths Tale
, for instance, it is not merely because fairies, as the Countess
dAulnoy or Angela Car ter might have said, are good to think with. It is because
issues of female sovereignty are deeply rooted in this aspect of the little tradi-
tion: as Partonopeu de Blois says of his fairy mistress, Cele est mes cuers, cele
est ma vie; / Cele a de moi la segnorieŽ )or, as the En glish translation in Oxford,
MS Rawlinson Poet. , puts it, And as she lyste she may gyde me, / She hathe
of me
e souerayneteŽ*.
For all that his clerical contemporaries would doubt-
less have found Chaucers views on fairies unexceptionable, and despite the fact
that he prefaces his Loathly Ladys actual transformation with a sermon steeped
in the discourse of learned culture, Chaucers
Wife of Baths Tale
derives much
of its real power from this traditional discourse and its long- standing re sis tance
to the crooked- rib propaganda of the great tradition. Beneath its androcentric
quest for what women really want, then, lies a much older ideological level
where masculine violation of natu ral harmony is subject to the discipline and
correction of a magical universe„ a pattern that may be sensed in Walter
Maps tale of Eadric the Wild, in the romance of
omas of Erceldoune
, and
in the strange proto- grail romance
lucidation
, where a rapists abuse of
fairy hospitality is what brings about the scourge of the Wasteland:
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
speak of changelings )quos vulgus cambiones nominant, de quibus vulgar-
issimi sunt sermones anilesŽ*.
 e same is true of
tienne de Bourbon, who
tells of a
pauper vetula
who tricked people into believing she was a prophetess;
of a
quidam rusticus
, possibly a thief,
who encountered Arthurs house hold
while prowling about at night; and of the group of
homines rusticani
who origi-
nated the cult of Saint Guinefort.
On the other hand, both Walter Map and
Gervase of Tilbury were writing for aristocratic audiences, and many of their
stories concern noblemen and noblewomen; and even Caesarius of Heisterbachs
fairies/demons move primarily in knightly circles. No doubt the third estate of-
fered some churchmen an easier target than the second, and what Filotas ob-
serves of the Dark Ages )the authorities were quicker to detect paganism and
superstition in the customs of subordinate groups than in those of their bet-
tersŽ
* remained true of this later period.
Of Le Go" s three stages in the development of the medieval marvelous,
I have most di$
culty in accepting the third: his characterization of
le mer-
veilleux
in the fourteenth and 2
fteenth centuries„he is prob ably thinking here
of
lusine
„as having become somehow aestheticized.
What he means by
this term is made clearer in a later essay, where he employs an essentially high/
low version of the bicultural model: 
e approach of opposing the two cul-
tures tends to make of popu lar culture, a culture essentially dominated, ma-
nipulated, and exploited by the superior culture. Learned culture [
la culture
], from this perspective, either destroys, perverts, or occludes popu lar
culture, forcing upon it an acculturation from above drawn from ecclesiasti-
cal, aristocratic„ later bourgeois„ models, or it rehabilitates it aesthetically,
when it has lost its power to resist and retains only the beauty of a corpse. Ž
In my view, vernacular culture )that is to say, the culture of the little tradi-
tion* was far from having lost its power to resist in the late Middle Ages de-
spite the churchs having stepped up its campaign against it.
Writers such as
Jean Gerson, Johannes Nider, and Heinrich Kramer give no sign of believing
that the battle against popu lar beliefs had been won; indeed by shifting their
casus belli
from mere superstition to actual heresy they put the conduct of the
war on a dangerous new footing.
If anything, the o$
cial attitude seems to have hardened throughout the
Middle Ages, and on the eve of the early modern period things were very much
darker than they had been earlier. By the end of the 2 fteenth century
Burchard of Wormss penance of ten days on bread and water for those who
believed that corporeal sylvansŽ took plea sure with their lovers
would have
seemed remarkably mild. 
e authors of the
Malleus Male carum
, themselves
 (\t
himself detects in the kind of study of popu lar culture that privileges cultural
objects over cultural participants;
when viewed from below, insofar as such
a thing is pos si ble, a somewhat di"
er ent pattern emerges.
In the Dark Ages the church certainly repressed, in the sense of sought
to eradicate, such aspects of popu lar culture as a belief in fairies, but in the
British Isles, at least, good evidence for such beliefs, much of it in the vernacu-
lar, survives nonetheless.
It is worth pointing out that this evidence derives
almost entirely from the
culture savante
, since written material of clear lay prov-
enance is virtually non ex is tent.
A survey of the pastoral lit er a ture of the pe-
riod, however, leaves a strong impression that church discipline seems to have
been relatively light- handed: local superstitions were as likely to be mocked for
their folly as castigated for their wickedness. Furthermore, in Bernadette Filo-
tass words, Pastoral lit er a ture does not support the view that popu lar culture
was a matter of class. References to social standing are rare, but when they
appear, they reinforce the idea of a common culture.Ž
is observation calls into question Le Go" s contention that the explo-
sion )
irruption
* of the marvelous in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries re-
ects the growth of lay popu lar culture, rushing into the breach opened
during the eleventh and twelfth centuries by a lay aristocratic culture thor-
oughly imbued with the one available culture- system distinct from the cler-
gys, namely the tradition of folklore.Ž
Rather, I believe that the twelfth
century witnessed the emergence of a bicultural system arising from a laity
increasingly comfortable with the medium of letters and a clerisy increas-
ingly dependent on, and concerned with, the goodwill and co- operation of
the whole population.Ž
While it is tempting to locate the actual tipping point
a little later, in the years immediately following the Fourth Lateran Council
)* and the founding of the Dominican order )*„ the period of
Caesarius of Heisterbach, William of Auvergne, and
tienne of Bourbon„ this
can be done only by excluding such impor tant 2
gures as Gervase of Tilbury
)whose writing is con temporary with the Fourth Lateran Council*, and both
Gerald of Wales and Walter Map )who were at work a generation earlier*. Cer-
tainly writers such as William of Auvergne and
tienne of Bourbon convey the
strong impression that fairy beliefs circulated primarily among the poor and
ignorant: William, for instance, speaks of the old women who call demons of
this kind ladies )huiusmodi demones, quas dominas vocant vetulaeŽ*, of the
witlessness of old women who, amazingly enough, spread the belief that fairies
steal children )vetularum autem nostrarum desipientia opinionem istam mi-
rabiliter disseminavitŽ*, and of the debased language of the old crones who
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
several more mentioned
 (\t
of fairyland. Almost as in ter est ing as his report of the visit itself, however, is
la Sales account of its early readership. It was written in the 2 rst instance, he
tells us, as an ironic travel guide for his former pupil John of Calabria )the
son of Duke Ren
dAnjou* and his new wife, Marie de Bourbon, but a sec-
ond copy was promised to Johns mother- in- law, Agn
s de Bourgogne, and
her husband, the Duke de Bourbon, si le plaisir de mondit seigneur et le vostre
feust dy aler, ainsi que souvent"
ois apr
s disner ou soupper avez acoustum
de vous esbatreŽ [in case my lord and you should be pleased to go there, an
idea you have often amused yourselves with after dinner or supper].
Such
people were among the grandest magnates in France, and coupled with the
Duke de Berris interest in Melusine, their evident fascination with Queen
Sybils paradise con2
rms that the discourse of fairyland was far from being
the exclusive preserve of the laboring classes.
When the higher nobility could evince such an interest in the existence
of fairyland, we should not be surprised to discover that the lower aristocracy
shared their concerns. We have already seen that the lords of Montfort were
thought to invoke fairy aid to make it rain in Comper, and that some people
believed that Bertrand du Guesclin, who despite his rise to the constableship
came from the minor nobility, had married a fairy. Joan of Arcs nulli2
cation
proceedings o"
er two further examples of the folklore of such
pe tite aristo-
. Sir Albert dOurches, who met Joan in Vaucouleurs, was not a local
)Ourches- sur- Meuse is some twenty miles to the north of Domr
my*, and
yet he was prepared to testify to having heard that in the old days fairies used
to be seen beneath the Fairy Tree )subtus illam arborem antiquitus f
es sole-
bant ireŽ*, and then adds, by way of exonerating Joan, that this was twenty or
thirty years before she was even heard of )or, in other words, 2
fty years ear-
lier, when he was a young boy*.
Perhaps he had learned of the fairy tree on
a visit to the de Bourl
mont family )the lords of Domr
my*, a family that with
the death of Pierre de Bourl
mont in  had become extinct. Another de-
ponent, the widow Jeanette de Veau, however, recalled hearing stories about
the de Bourl
monts: the tree was called the Ladies Tree, she said,  because in
the old days a certain lord, called Sir Peter Gravier, knight, lord of Bourl
mont,
and a lady who was called
would meet each other under that tree and
speak together. And she said she heard these things read in a romance )hec
in uno romano legi audivit*Ž )pp.…*. Unless Jeanette was simply con-
fused,
we may possibly be dealing here with some local counterpart of the
Melusine legend,
but in any case four other witnesses speci2
cally attested to
an association between the de Bourl
mont family and the Fairy Tree,
and
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
immediately rides o"
to challenge, 2
ght, and even, at least in the short term,
triumph over him: [He] emerged from the 2
eld victorious, while his adver-
 (\t
the apparition of Melusine 1
ying above the castles turrets, with all the stud-
ied indi"
erence of his counterpart in Breughels
Fall of Icarus
. While it would
certainly be wrong to take his pose as emblematic of the limited scope of such
so- called popu lar beliefs, I believe it would be equally wrong to con2
ne these
beliefs, as has often been done, to some hy po thet i cal primitive folk culture.
In my view, medieval aristocrats were perfectly capable of entering into
the belief system of the little tradition as fully participating members. As we
have already seen, Jean dArras may well have drawn upon a memorate from
the Duc de Berri when, around , he came to describe John Cresswells
terrifying encounter with Melusine in his bedroom, but such clear examples
of direct aristocratic engagement with folkloric beliefs are relatively rare. On
the other hand, had we come across this story in a preachers exemplum col-
lection or even an anonymous popu lar romance, we would prob ably have
been tempted to dismiss it as an obvious example of peasant superstition. In
the
Otia Imperialia
at a point where Gervase of Tilbury is paraphrasing an
account of Silvans and PansŽ from the well- known passage in Augustines
City of God
on
incubi
a recent editions facing- page translation renders the
phrase
creberrima fama
)literally, a very frequent rumor* as a widespread
folk- belief
is may seem a small point, but such mistranslation typi2
es
the unre1
ective assumption that such beliefs must always have originated at
the lower levels of society. 
e two medieval translations, by contrast, make
no such assumption: one reads,
Policing
Vernacular
Belief 
account of upper class participation in popu lar cultureŽ )p.*. 
ough
Burke is an early modernist, his model can arguably be applied to the late
Middle Ages and perhaps even earlier.
Such a model must always be heuristic,
of course: the existence of a credulous bishop or a skeptical peasant no more
invalidates it than the existence of a reactionary member of a socialist party
or a progressive member of a conservative one invalidates the standard ideo-
logical model of modern Western democracy.
For many, the notion that
la culture populaire
should be understood to
include members of the secular elite will be counterintuitive, particularly since
there is a common perception that the primary thrust of the French
annalistes
has been, in John Van Engens words, to dredge up from the bottom, as it
were, the residues of peasant religious folklore. Ž
Whether or not such an
assessment is altogether just,
and whether indeed the very term folklore can
properly be used in such a reductive sense,
my adoption of Peter Burkes model
in this context obviously requires justi2
cation. To be clear, I do not claim
merely that medieval aristocrats occasionally drew upon aspects of peasant be-
lief, which appears to be Le Go" s position: this whole world of the marvel-
ous came to enrich the cultural armory of the knights.Ž
Still less do I claim
that they were merely playing at being peasants: to read an event such as
Charles VIs
bal des sauvages
, for instance, as if it were the medieval equiva-
lent of Marie Antoinettes playing at shepherdesses in the
Hameau de la reine
would, in my view, be gravely anachronistic; to a near con temporary, after all,
it had very much the appearance of a dance for conjuring a demonŽ [
una corea
procurante demone
Charges of sorcery were rife in the late medieval courts
of Eng land and France, and while it is all too easy to dismiss them as merely
a cynical po liti cal ploy,
they could hardly have been leveled at all if the sub-
stance of such charges had been widely discredited among the courtiers them-
selves. Moreover, the claim that while folk beliefs may have circulated among
the nobility they must have originated much further down the social
scaleseems to me a quite unprovable projection back from nineteenth- and
twentieth- century experience; the fact that a brutal and ignorant Irish laborer
named Michael Cleary murdered his wife in in the apparently sincere
belief that she was really a fairy changeling
tells us nothing at all about the
propagators of such beliefs 2
ve hundred years earlier.
When the Limbourg brothers painted the castle of Lusignan in the March
scene of the Duc de Berris luxurious
s Riche Heures
, they assumed that
the duke would wish them to include an image of Melusine. 
e main focus
of their page, however, is a plowman, who turns away quite leisurelyŽ from
Policing Vernacular Belief
Adde we to these, the parts and repre sen ta tions of Satyres, Silvanes,
Muses, Nymphes, Furies, Hob goblins, Fairies, Fates, with such
other heathen vanities, which Christians should not name, much
lesse resemble.
„ William Prynne,
Histrio- mastix
)*
While most scholars would have little di$ culty treating a belief in fairies as
an aspect of medieval popu lar culture, many would 2
nd it harder to agree
on what precisely they mean by this term. 
e Eu ro pean Middle Ages, as is
well known, conceived of society as a static threefold structure„ its estates
divided among churchmen, knights, and peasants„ but modern historiog-
raphy is more likely to apply a binary, and dynamic, model to medieval
culture: either high/low )churchmen and knights vs. peasants* or learned/
lay )churchmen vs. knights and peasants*.
us, as Aron Gurevich puts it,
the very concept of popu lar culture as applied to the high Middle Ages
remains to a great extent unde2 ned. Was it only the culture of the lower,
oppressed classes of society? Or was it the culture of all
illiterati
, as opposed
to that of educated people?Ž
In what follows, I take vernacular culture to
represent the culture of the laity as a whole, knights as well as peasants, while
conceding that
la culture savante
must always be understood to have included
some educated members of the laity, and
la culture populaire
, some of the less
literate members of the clergy. More speci2
cally, I adopt here the model pro-
posed by Peter Burke for early modern Eu rope when he speaks of the   great
tradition of the educated few and the  little tradition of the rest,Ž
always
remembering his impor tant proviso that the term  little tradition must take
Believing in Fairies
chevaulx qui au pi
du mont estoient, combien queilz feussent moult bas et
loings de moy )p.*]. For all his bravado, la Sales althoughŽ here betrays an
under lying uneasiness; he sounds rather like the hotel guest who, while dis-
claiming any belief in ghosts, would still rather not sleep in a room reputed to
be haunted. But there is a signi2
cant di"
erence. Ghost stories in the modern
world carry with them only limited ideological baggage; the proselytizing athe-
ist might regard them as dangerous nonsense, but most people would treat them
as harmless entertainment. 
is was not true of fairies in the Middle Ages.
It is a relatively simple matter to show that some people during the Middle
Ages believed in fairies, but we have still not gone very far in understanding
the general attitude toward such beliefs. While there may be a strong tempta-
tion to explain them in terms of modern phenomena, like a belief in ghosts,
such analogies have only limited value. 
is is true even in the case of a more
commonly invoked parallel, the modern belief in alien abductions„ a belief
that actually bears a strong formal resemblance to some medieval tales of
people stolen by the fairies;
##0
Diane Purkiss has even gone so far as to claim
that aliens are our fairies, and they behave just like the fairies of our ances-
tors.Ž
##3
In one sense this is quite true„ both might be argued to 2 ll a similar,
even identical, social or psychological niche„ but ideologically their roles are
very di"
er ent, and the cultural work performed by each is quite distinct.
For one thing, modern belief in alien abduction, however widespread )in
 about a third of Americans were reported to believe in UFOs*, remains
a minority cult, indulged in by a fringe population. Its adherents may relish
the support of the Harvard psychiatrist John Edward Mack )just as medieval
fairy believers were glad to have the learned Gervase of Tilbury on their side*,
but by and large they have made few inroads into civil society. However, fairy
beliefs were very far from being a fringe phenomenon in the Middle Ages )as
we shall see*. A second way in which medieval fairy beliefs di"
ered from mod-
ern theories of alien abduction is yet more signi2
cant. Champions of alien
abduction, for all their love of conspiracy theories, pose little threat to estab-
lished society; no one in power apparently feels any great need to censor,
silence, or persecute them. As our opening discussion of the churchs repre-
sen ta tion of fairies as dev ils and of fairy beliefs as potentially heretical dem-
onstrates, however, medieval stories of fairyland were far from ideologically
neutral. It is to the ideological signi2
cance of medieval fairy stories that we
will now turn.
 (\t
unusual colour, and strange shape was o"
ered as a splendid gift to the elder
Henry, king of Eng land. Subsequently it was passed on to the queens brother,
David king of Scots, and kept for many years among the trea sures of Scotland.
Some years ago, as I learned from a reliable account, Henry II wished to see
it, and it was surrendered to him by William king of Scots.Ž
#86
No doubt
William of Newburgh names these royal witnesses for the same reason
that Walter Map had stressed that the fairy bride of a man named Eadric the
Wild was examined in person by William the Conqueror,
#87
as a way of lend-
ing unimpeachable authority to his strange tale. Yet William of Newburgh
was far from being a credulous reporter;
##8
his skepticism about the reliability
of Geo"
rey of Monmouths account of Arthur, for instance, is well known.
Nor for that matter was Walter Map, who dryly remarks of the story that
Triunein, reputedly the son of a Welsh fairy, survived defeat in battle to live
with his mother at the bottom of a lake, a delusion like this might have been
in ven ted about a man whose body was never foundŽ [de non inuento 2
ngi
potuit error huiusmodi].
##%
e quasi- objective stance of men such as William of Newburgh and
Walter Map closely resembles that of a modern ghost- story teller seeking to
exploit the frisson that comes with an audiences readiness to entertain the
possibility that it is listening to a true account. 
e 2
fteenth- century French
courtier Antoine de la Sale professed himself a skeptic on the fairy question,
and at the end of his account of the paradise of Queen Sibyl )which he de-
scribes as a fairy realm of magical gardens and palaces, populated by elegant
knights and beautiful ladies, and ruled over by a gracious sovereign*, he wrote,
I pray God to guard every good Christian from such false belief, and from
exposing himself to such danger.Ž
But when he describes how he himself
had sought to visit this magic realm )entered through a cave high in the Apen-
nines* in , he recounts an unnerving experience that proves that even
such a sophisticated outsider was not wholly impervious to the queens power.
He claims that the local authorities prevented him from passing beyond the
caves 2
rst chamber, and yet even there, [my companions] and I heard from
within a sharp voice, like the sound of a peacock crying out, as if from a long
way o"
ey said that it was an utterance from the Sibyls Paradise, but for
my part I dont believe it; I rather think that it was my horses who were at the
foot of the mountain, although they were a long way below meŽ [Iceulx et
moy oysmes leans une haulte voix criant ainsi que ce feust le cry du paon, qui
sembloit estre moult loings. Si dirent les gens que cestoit une voix de paradis
de la Sibille. Mais, quant a moy, je nen croy riens; ainsi croy que feussent mes
Believing in Fairies
popu lar association of the spring with fairies. What is far more striking, how-
ever, is the absolute credence that 
omas, a pupil of Albertus Magnus, places
in this story of the spring; he gives circumstantial evidence, cites reliable wit-
nesses, and even tries to o"
er a credible explanation for it. As with the anony-
mous Wycli$
te preacher )and Jean dArras*, the question is not whether fairies
)or
daemones/feendis
* exist but how they work their magic and what the limits
of their powers are.
One 2
nal piece of evidence is the most surprising of all. It comes from a
sober legal text, the
Coutumier
of the forest of Broc
liande, written down in
the 2 fteenth century but prob ably based on a thirteenth- century original. At
the end of a lengthy exposition of the assorted hunting, logging, and pastur-
age rights of the vari ous secular and ecclesiastical lords having domain in the
forest, we 2
nd the following: Item, next to the said spring there is a great
rock, called the rock of Bellenton, and every time the Lord of Montfort comes
to the said spring and sprinkles its water and moistens the said rock, however
hot it may be, [with] the weather clear of rain, and in what ever direction the
wind might lie, and however much people might say that the weather is not
looking at all like rain, very soon )sometimes shortly before the said lord is
able to return to his castle of Comper and sometimes shortly after* and in any
case before the end of that same day, it rains in the region so plentifully that
the land and its crops are watered by it much to their bene2
t.Ž
#84
It is unclear
whether this entry is intended to con2
rm the Lord of Montforts exclusive right
to sprinkle water on the rock or merely to prove that he has jurisdiction over
this par tic u lar area, but in either case the passage con2
rms the existence of a
local belief and one that, to judge by its presence in the
Coutumier
, must have
been shared by the landholding class. Moreover the author of the
Coutumier
clearly recognizes that some will 2
nd the phenomenon incredible and goes to
some lengths to assert its actuality. After reading such a passage we might un-
derstand why Roger Loomis should have asked so indignantly, Can anyone
seriously believe that it was Chr
tiens poem which gave rise to this popu lar
custom of seeking relief from drought at the fountain?Ž
#85
Not only in Broc
liande was the question of the credibility of fairy be-
liefs an issue. 
e Yorkshireman William of Newburgh tells the story of a
local peasant )ex hoc vico rusticusŽ* who, having stumbled upon a fairy feast
taking place inside a hillock that lay on his way home, rashly steals a cup from
the fairies. William notes that he was personally familiar with the hillock in
question )tumulo quem saepius vidiŽ* and goes to some lengths to detail the
subsequent history of the cup: Eventually this cup of unknown material,
 (\t
clouds began to gather, thunder to rumble, rain to pelt down,
lightning to 1
ash, and it instantly caused so great a 1
ood that the
surrounding land seemed to be covered to the distance of a league.
e prior was amazed by the sight and talked about it in the hearing
of brother Henry, Bishop John of blessed memory, master of the
order,
#8#
and many other friars. Forty years ago I heard this same
thing from my father, who had campaigned in those parts with
King Richard of Eng land. When brother Henry told me, and many
others, these things, I asked how they could have come about. He
replied, by a magic art, now unknown to humans, and by the
working of demons, who are able to stir and whip up the air into
storms and rain- showers when they wish, though only by permis-
sion of the hidden decree of God.
#8%
At this point it is prob ably worth pointing out something that underlies
the traditions surrounding the Spring of Barenton and that may not be im-
mediately obvious to the modern reader: the popu lar understanding that there
was a connection between fairies and bad weather. Chaucer seems to be
alluding to such a connection when he mentions the ayerissh bestesŽ that
engender Cloudes, mystes, and tempestes, / Snowes, hayles, reynes, wyndesŽ
in
e House of Fame
) lines …*,
#8+
but even clearer evidence is found
in, of all places, an early 2
fteenth- century Wycli$
te sermon: And summe
dremen of
es feendis [of the loweste rank]
at summe ben elues and summe
gobelynes, and haue not but litil power to tempte men in harme of soule; but
we kunne not proue
is ne disproue
is spedili, holde we vs in
e boundis
at God telli
vs in his lawe. But it is licli
es feendis haue power to make
e wynd and reyn,
undir and ly
ttyng and o
ir wedrus; for whan
ei
moeuen partis of
is e[y]re and bryngyn hem nyy
togidere,
es partis moten
nedeli bi kynde make siche wedir as clerkis knowen.Ž
#80
Another, hardly less
surprising, source is a set of Latin exercises composed for use in Exeter Gram-
mar School around , one of which reads, A general rumour is spreading
among the people that the spirits of the air, invoked by necromantic art . . .
have appeared in bodily form, stirring up great tempests in the air which are
not yet calmed, it is believed, nor allayed.Ž
#83
When Wace, Chr
tien, and Huon
ri wrote of a magic stone with the power to summon up storms, then,
they would have expected their readers to assume a fairy agency. It is quite clear
that
daemones
in the passage from 
omas of Cantimpr
is a Dominican
code word for the vernacular term
and that 
omas is thus echoing a
Believing in Fairies
fact, that it allows us to date the poem*, but he even remarks in the course of
his description of the vio lence of the tempest that he has no wish to lie about it:
ne talent nen ai de mentirŽ )line *.
We have seen that Chr
tien was in1
uenced by Wace and Huon de M
ri
was in1
uenced by Chr
tien, so there is a natu ral enough temptation to take
this to mean that we are dealing not with actual beliefs at all but with a suc-
cession of writers who are using the Forest of Broc
liande as a literary short-
hand, a stock location with as little connection to the real world as Shakespeares
Illyria. 
e 2
nal three pieces of evidence I wish to adduce, however, are non-
literary and should make it quite clear that if Wace, Chr
tien, and de M
ri
were worried that describing a fairy spring made them look like fools or liars,
there were others who seem to have had few doubts that they were dealing
with a genuine meteorological event.
Jacques de Vitry, for instance, in his
Historia Orientalis seu Hierosolymitana
)begun in * includes the Spring of Barenton among a group of marvels he
judges it safe to believe in since they are contrary to neither faith nor good mor-
als )ea tamen credere que contra 2
dem non sunt vel bonos mores, nullum pe-
riculum aestimamusŽ*: in Brittany there is said to be a certain spring and if
its waters are sprinkled over a nearby rock they are said to produce rain and
thunderŽ [in minori Britannia fons quidam esse refertur, cuius aque supra pro-
pinquum lapidem proiecte pluvias tonitrua provocare dicuntur].
A genera-
tion later the Dominican 
omas of Cantimpr
in his
Bonum Universale de
Apibus
went to great lengths to make this phenomenon seem credible:
I have heard Friar Henry the German, at one time a Dominican
Reader in Cologne,
#88
a man of con spic u ous learning and piety of
whom I have written above, tell, with friars as witnesses, what I
will now relate. When a certain well- born and wealthy friar from
the region of Brittany entered the Dominican order he lived with
the French friars in Lyon. As the time of his vows approached he
sought permission from his prior to return to his own land in order
that he might dispose of his possessions; the prior agreed and
undertook the journey with him. When they had arrived in the
wastes of Brittany, the novice said to his prior, Would you like to
see the ancient won der of Brittany?Ž 
e prior asked what it was,
and the friar, leading him to a sparkling clear spring above which
was placed a stone on marble columns in the manner of an altar,
immediately poured water over [it]. At once the skies darkened, the
 (\t
Ne cuidiez pas, que je vos mante,
Que si fu 2
ere la tormante,
Que nus nan conteroit le disme. )lines …*
 en they [Yvain and his lion] traveled until they saw the spring
and made it rain there.
Dont imagine that Im lying to you:
the
tempest was so severe that no one could tell the tenth of it [my
emphasis].]
What are we to make of Chr
tiens disclaimer, Ne cuidiez pas, que je vos
manteŽ? Is it an ironic joke? Is it a genuine appeal for credence? Is it merely a
conventional tic designed to carry his audience along with him at an improb-
able moment? What ever we make of it, however, it shows that Chr
tien was
no less aware than Wace of the contested nature of fairy belief.
ere is one other early literary text whose setting is the Forest of Broc
li-
ande, Huon de M
ris
Torneiment Anticrist
)…*. 
is is not a true
romance but rather an odd mixture of allegorical psychomachia and social satire:
Anticrists followers, for instance, include not only a character called Pub Crawl
Guersois
], whose gang consists of Scotsmen, En glish, and Normans, but also
the gods Pluto and Proserpina, who bear a clear resemblance to Chaucers fairy
king and queen in
e Merchants Tale
Proserpina is Anticrists lover and
supplies him with a pennon made from her chemise )lines …*, while Pluto
bullies Anticrist into 2
ghting the archangel Michael )lines …*. Interest-
ingly, among the butts of Huon de M
ris satire are the Albigensians )lines
… and…*„ a further sign that fairy beliefs hovered at the edge of
heresy. 
Torneiment
s opening lines are clearly inspired by Chr
tien de
Troyess account of the visits of Calogrenant and Yvain to Broc
liande; the poet,
seeking to discover the truth about the spring of Barenton and its properties
)Kar la vert
volei e aprendre / De la perilluse fontaineŽ [lines …]*, 2
nds it
just as Chr
tien had described )cum la descrit CrestiensŽ [line ]*. But in-
stead of suppressing its fairy ele ments like Chr
tien, de M
ri demonizes them.
By pouring water over the stone )not once but twice*, he summons both a
tremendous storm and the terrifying 2
gure of Bras de Fer, the chamberlain of
Anticrist, who then conducts him to the tournament that occupies the re-
mainder of the poem. But even here, in an allegorical poem that makes no
claims to verisimilitude, the poet feels obliged to authenticate his account of
the spring with its storm- raising properties. Not only does he give a circum-
stantial account of how he came to be in the area )an account so detailed, in
Believing in Fairies
great stone. Huntsmen were accustomed to go to Barenton when it
was very hot and pour water from their horns and splash it over the
great stone; this way they would make it rain.  is is the way it
rained in the old days in the forest and the surrounding area,
I dont know what the reason was. People were accustomed to seeing
fairies and many other won ders there, if the Bretons are telling us the
truth. . . .
I went there to see won ders, I saw the forest and I saw the
region; I searched for won ders but I didnt 2
nd any; I came back a
fool„ I went there a fool; I went there a fool„ I came back a fool;
Ilooked for folly„ I found myself the fool [my emphasis].]
Wace, then, was a skeptic; he had sought empirical evidence and found it lack-
ing, but the real point is that he
seek it )or represents himself as having
done so*.
What of his successor Chr
tien de Troyes? Chr
tien had evidently read
this passage in Wace, for Calogrenant is clearly echoing it in the opening
scene of
Yvain
. Reporting his unsuccessful adventures in Broc
liande to King
Arthur, Calogrenant concludes:
Ensi alai, ensi reving,
Au revenir por fol me ting;
Si vos ai cont
come fos
Ce quonques mes conter ne vos. )lines …*
 us I went, thus I returned; on my return I found myself a fool;
if I have told my story like a fool I wish that I may never tell it
again.]
Calogrenants folly, however, is quite di"
er
ent from Waces; it is not the folly
of a man who has been naive and gullible„ pouring water over the stone has,
after all, produced the promised e"
ect„ but of one who has overreached him-
self and been shamed in battle with the knight whom his actions conjured
up. At the end of the romance, Yvain, desperate to get his indignant lady,
Laudine, to see him, threatens to 1
ood her out by exploiting the magical
properties of the spring at Barenton:
Puis errerent tant que il virent
La fontainne et plovoir i 2
rent.
 (\t
ago, the torrent of disparaging epithets„
nugae, fallaces
fabulae
 gmenta
hurled against Arthurian romances by twelfth- century clerics arose from their
very real indignation that such things as disappearing castles, magic foun-
tains, and enchanted forestsŽ should have been represented as credible.
If the
question mattered to them, perhaps it should also matter to us.
Let us then return to the Forest of Broc
liande. In the
Roman de Rou
written at least a hundred years before
Claris and Laris
, the Norman poet Wace
inserts the following amusing aside into an account of the forces gathered
by William for his invasion of Eng land:
e cil devers Brecheliant
donc Breton vont sovent fablant,
une forest mult longue e lee
qui en Bretaigne est mult loee.
La fontaine de Berenton
sort dune part lez le perron;
aler i solent veneor
a Berenton par grant chalor,
et a lor cors leve espuisier
e le perron desus moillier;
por
o soleient pluie aveir.
Issi soleit jadis ploveir
en la forest e environ,
mais jo ne sai par quel raison.
La seut len des fees veeir
se li Breton nos dient veir
e altres mereveilles plusors;
La alai jo merveilles querre,
vi la forest e vi la terre,
merveilles quis, mais nes trouvai,
fol men revinc, fol i alai;
fol i alai, fol men revinc,
folie quis, por fol me tinc. ):…*
[and some [came] from near Broc
liande which the Bretons often
tell stories about, a forest, long and broad, which is greatly prized
in Brittany. 
e spring of Barenton 1
ows on one side, beside the
Believing in Fairies
Les fees ont lor estage,
En .i.des biaus leis du boscage
Est lor maison et lor repaire
Si riches, con le porroit faire
Cil, qui le sorent compasser.
A lentrer de la riche lande,
Quon apele Broceliande,
Sont li baron arresteu;
Atant ont .i. arvout veu,
Haut et bien fet de grant richece;
Bien avoit .x. piez de largece;
Dedenz avoit letres escrites
Dor, qui nestoient pas pe tites;
Toutes les choses devisoient,
Qui dedenz la forest estoient. )lines …*
 ey [Claris and Laris] rode until midday, when they arrived at a
great wood which is called Broc
liande. It is a very large and noble
forest, full of many great won ders. . . . 
e fairies have set up
residence there; their dwelling and their resort is in one of the fair
clearings in the forest. It is as rich as the builders, who knew their
business, could make it. . . . At the entrance to this rich woodland
they call Broc
liande the knights halted.  en they saw a high
arch, well made at great expense, at least ten feet tall. Within were
sizable gold letters written; they listed all the things that were to be
seen in the forest.]
Most modern readers will take this passage as pure fantasy and will regard
itsfairy paraphernalia as a mere plot device„ the function of Broc
liande is
simply to provide an elaborate chivalric proving ground for the two young
heroes. As Je"
Rider puts it, medieval otherworlds serve as narrative engines
whose representatives, messages, or gifts intervene to set a story going, keep it
going, or change its direction.Ž
In Helen Coopers words, magic is above
all a narrative issue, a way of telling a story.Ž
To take the fairy machinery of
medieval romance as nothing more than a con ve nient narrative device, how-
ever, is to ignore the fact that people in the Middle Ages were themselves far
from indi"
erent to truth claims about fairies. As Arthur Brown showed long
 (\t
As told in the French original, the story contains a number of circum-
stantial details left out of the En glish translation. We learn, for instance, that
all the doors to the bedroom Cresswell was sharing with Alexandrine were
locked and that there was a good 2
re burning in the grate )so that Melusine
could not have come down the chimney*: Et ne s
ot oncques par ou elle en-
tra, et estoient tous les huiz ferm
z et barr
z et le feu ardoit grant en la chem-
inee.Ž
Moreover, others are said to have seen her. 
e En glish translation
does mention a man named Godard who swore on the Evangelists that he
had often encountered her without ever coming to harm )pp.…*, but it
leaves out the vivid detail that it was near an old chicken coop next to the
castle well )il a un lieu a Lusegnen empr
z le puis ou on a du temps pass
nourry pollailleŽ* as well as the impor tant fact that the man himself was still
alive )un homme qui encores demeure en la forteresseŽ* )p.*. Similarly, a
Welshman called Evan is mentioned as a further witness,
but not the fact
that he saw Melusine twice. Fi nally, the En glish translation makes no men-
tion whatsoever of a Poitevin called Perceval de Couloigne, the chamberlain
of Peter I of Cyprus )a descendant of the Lusignans*, who swore that his mas-
ter claimed to have seen Melusine three days before he was murdered on
January  )p.*„ a notorious crime, recorded in Chaucers
Monks Tale
All this wealth of circumstantial detail makes it hard to accept that, what ever
its origins, Jean dArras is telling the story of John Cresswell for any other rea-
son than to prove the factual basis of the apparition, and that the Duc de
Berri had related it to him out of a genuine concern with establishing the facts.
Jean dArras may be unusual in the lengths he goes to to authenticate his
remarkable tale, but there is nothing surprising about 2
nding the issue of fairy
belief raised by a writer of romance. Fairies, it seems, like ghosts, have their
favorite haunts, and of all the Eu ro pean locations where one might hope to
encounter a fairy, perhaps the most auspicious was the forest of Broc
liande
near Rennes in Brittany. A description of Broc
liande in the mid- thirteenth-
century romance of
Claris and Laris
)* makes it sound rather like a fairy
theme park )complete with a golden arch*:
Dusqua midi ont chevauchie
Lors ont .i. grant bois aprouchie,
Quon apele Broceliande;
Trop est la forest 2
ere et grande
Believing in Fairies
pentous [Fr.
 (\t
with a patron as power ful as Jean de France, Duc de Berri, he need hardly
have worried about any consequences. He begins by telling us that in many
partes of the sayd lande of Poytow haue ben shewed vnto many oon right
famylerly many manyeres of thinges the whiche somme called Gobelyns [Fr.
luitons
] the other "
ayrees, and the other bonnes damesŽ or good ladyes,Ž
and then he invokes the authority of Gervase of Tilbury, a man worshipfull
of credence,Ž for the belief that their activities be permytted doon for som
mysdedes that were doon ayenst the playsure of god wherfore he punysshed
them so secretly so wounderly wherof none hath parfytte knowlege but
alonely he and they may be therefore called the secrets of god, abysmes with-
out ryuage and without bottom.Ž
Two French vernacular translations of
Gervase of Tilburys
Otia Imperialia
survive from the Middle Ages,
and
though there is no rec ord of the Duc de Berris owning a copy, his brother
Charles V certainly did.
DArras concludes his history of
Melusine
with
another extended discussion of the existence of fairies and )at least in the
French original* another reference to Gervase:
 erfore yf I haue wryton or shewed ony thing that to som semeth
neyther pos si ble to be nor credible, I beseche them to pardonne me.
For as I fele vnderstand by the Auctours of gramaire phyloso-
phye [Fr.
des anciens autteurs tant de Gervaise comme dautres anciens
autteurs et philosophes
] they repute and hold this pres ent hystorye
for a true Cronykle thinges of the fayry. And who that saith the
contrary / I say the secret jugements of god and his punysshments
are inuysible impossible to be vnderstand or knowe by the
humanyte of man. / For the vnderstanding of humayne Creature is
to rude to vnderstande the spyce espirytuel, may not wel
comprehend what it is / but as ferre as the wylle of god wyl su"
hym [Fr
. et la puissance de Dieu y puet adjouster quil lui plaist
]. For
there is found in many hystoryes Fayries that haue be maryed
had many children / but how this may be the humayn creature
may not conceyue.
But it is not just written authority that Jean dArras invokes. When, at a criti-
cal point in the story, Melusine, learning that her husband has disregarded a
solemn prohibition, 1
ies o"
in the shape of a dragon from an upper win dow,
Jean o"
ers us marmoreal proof of this marvel: And wete it wel that on the
basse stone of the wyndowe apereth at this day themprynte of her foote ser-
Believing in Fairies
we possess„ the thirty- four people from Domr
my and the surrounding area
who were questioned about a fairy tree )
arbor Fatalium, gallice
des feesŽ* in
 as part of the pro cess to nullify Joan of Arcs condemnation twenty years
earlier„ yields very modest results, at least statistically.
In  Joan herself
had informed her inquisitors that she had never seen fairies at the tree as far as
she knewŽ [dixit quod nunquam vidit predictas Fatales apud arborem, quod
ipsa sciat]„ though she did concede that one of her godmothers claimed to
have seen them„ and she stoutly denied that the gatherings at the fairy tree
that she had attended as a young girl were anything other than innocent
springtime picnics.
Of the thirty- four later witnesses questioned about the
arbre des dames
, ten knew, or a"
ected to know, nothing at all about it )though
hardly any of these were from the immediate area of Domr
my* and only nine
admitted to having heard that in the old days fairies were to be seen there; no
one admitted to believing in fairies personally, though a forty- four- year- old la-
borer named Michel Buin did say that he did not know where they had gone,
because they no longer visited the tree. 
e Domr
my villa gers were under no
par tic u lar threat from the commission )indeed the commissioners were eager
for reassurance that Joans youthful activities were entirely innocent*, yet even
so their responses were warily noncommittal. In view of the fact that Bernard
Guis famous inquisitors manual requires further investigation of anyone who
believes in fairy women, whom they call
the good things
Ž [de fatis mulieribus
quas vocant bonas res],
perhaps we can hardly blame them.
In default of statistics we must resort to anecdotal evidence to see what
inferences can be drawn about the extent of fairy beliefs in the Middle Ages.
One of the most fascinating test cases is provided by Jean dArrass romance
lusine
)ca. *, which traces the origins of the great crusading family
ofthe Lusignans back to its found ers ill- fated marriage to a fairy bride.
lusine
was one of the most popu lar stories in 2
fteenth- century Eu rope:
alongside Jean dArrass prose version, there is another in verse )ca. * by a
man called Coudrette, and altogether thirty manuscripts survive of these two
renderings. In one or other form it was translated into almost every major Eu-
ro pean language )with En glish translations of both texts*. Coudrette may well
have been a cleric, and he seems to have been somewhat wary about raising
the question of his storys factual status )indeed one might detect a certain
defensiveness in his insistence that he was writing only at the behest of Guil-
laume Larchev
que, Lord of Parthenay, and in the elaborate prayers for the
soul of his patron with which he concludes*. Jean dArras, in contrast, was
fully prepared to tackle the prob lems of factual corroboration head on, and
 (\t
O see not ye yon narrow road,
So thick beset wi thorns and briers?
at is the path of righ teousness,
 o after it but few enquires.
And see not ye that braid braid road,
at lies across yon lillie leven?
 at is the path of wickedness,
 o some call it the road to heaven.
And see not ye that bonny road,
Which winds about the fernie brae?
at is the road to fair El1
and,
Whe[re] you and I this night maun gae.
ese passages provide clear evidence that some people felt that fairyland lay
beyond the bound aries of a conventional Christian cosmology, and a curious
aside in the popu lar vade mecum
Sidrak and Bokkus
seems to imply that such
an attitude was widespread; in response to the question Whe
er in thatt
er world may be Any hous, toun, or citee?Ž Sidrak describes the three paths
to be taken by the soul after death )to heaven, hell, and purgatory* and then
adds )in the En glish version* the other wise otiose remark, Wonyng stedes be
there no moo / 
at man or woman shall goo to.Ž
)We shall return in
Chapter to the di$
cult question of fairyland as an abode of departed souls.*
Clearly fairy beliefs occupied an anomalous status in the o$
cial culture
of the later Middle Ages. While scholastic theology may have regarded them
as demonic, at the pastoral level they were far too deeply entrenched in the
vernacular consciousness to be easily extirpated, and an uneasy truce was
maintained. Is it, then, pos si ble to delve further into this vernacular conscious-
ness, to discover any direct evidence for the nature and extent of these beliefs?
Jacques Le Go"
has written of the near impossibility of transporting to
the past the methods of observation, investigation, and enumeration, applied
by sociologists to con temporary socie ties,Ž
and while there is no reason to
suppose that popu lar belief was any more homogeneous in the Middle Ages
than it is now )ther ben many folk that beleeven because it happeneth so
often tyme to fallen after here fantasyes,Ž writes Sir John Mandev ille, and
also there ben men ynowe that han no beleve in hemŽ*,
its nuances are far
more di$
cult to penetrate. Certainly the nearest thing to a statistical sample
Believing in Fairies
To Morne, of helle
e foulle fende
Amange this folke will feche his fee;
And
ou art mekill mane and hende,„
I trowe full wele he wole chese the. )lines …*
If the 2
end of hell regularly takes an inhabitant of fairyland as his fee,Ž clearly
the fairies are to be distinguished from dev ils, even lesser dev ils. 
is point
isreiterated in two unique passages in one of the 2
ve manuscripts of the
poem,B.L., MS Lansdowne . In the 2
rst section of the poem 
omas sexu-
ally assaults the fairy queen and then watches her beauty fade before his eyes:
 omas stode vpe in
at stede,
and he by helde
at lady gaye;
Hir hare it hange all ouer hir hede,
Hir eghe semede owte,
at are were graye,
and alle
e riche clothynge was a waye. )lines …*
At this point the Lansdowne manuscript adds a passage that balances the ear-
lier one in which  omas had mistaken her for the Virgin:
Sche woxe so grym and so stowte
e dewyll he wende she had be,
In the Name of the trynite,
he coniuryde here anon ryght
at she shulde not come hym nere,
But wende away of his sight.
She said, thomas, this is no nede,
" or fende of hell am I none.Ž )lines …*
In a later passage, when 
omas asks her about her transformation, she ex-
plains that it had been a ruse to deceive her jealous husband and that other-
wise, Me had been as good to goo / To the brynnyng fyre of hellŽ )lines
…*. If all this were not enough, four of the manuscripts )the 2
fth,B.L.,
MS Sloane , is defective at this point* preserve a remarkable passage )lines
…* in which the path to fairyland is contrasted with four other paths:
those leading to heaven, to the earthly paradise, to purgatory, and to hell. In
the traditional ballad derived from this medieval romance these 2
ve paths have
been reduced to three:
 (\t
which Huon is almost drowned the work of these demon monks but attri-
butes his delivery to fairy power:
Sire,Ž dist il, jou tai dit verit
De faerie o
s onques parler.Ž
l,Ž dist H
es, jen ai o
ass
Si ma
u grant mestier en la mer
Il mont aidi
ma vie a respiter.Ž
es,Ž dist il, vous dites verit
.Ž )lines …*
[Sir,Ž he said, I have told you the truth: have you never heard tell
of fairy magic.Ž Yes,Ž said Huon, I have heard enough about it:
when I was in great need in the sea, they helped me to save my
life.Ž Huon,Ž he said, you speak the truth.Ž]
Harf- Lancner suggests that we are dealing here with an amalgam of two
conceptions of fairyland, one learned and the other folkloric,
but I think
rather that the author is drawing a deliberate distinction between the real world
of the fairies )that represented by Oberon and his followers* and a demonic
substitute )the monkish neutral angels*, devised by learned culture as a way of
rendering vernacular beliefs less dangerous. 
is point is illustrated even more
clearly in the Scottish romance of
omas of Erceldoune
. When 
omas 2
encounters the fairy queen, he mistakes her for the Virgin Mary,
but he is
quickly disabused:
Qwene of heuen ne am I noghte,
or I tuke neuer so heghe degre.
But I ame of ane o
er countree )lines …*.
It is made equally clear, however, that this country is not the dev ils, for as
she rides with 
omas to fairyland, she warns him against picking the fruit
that borders their path: 
omas,
ou late
ame stande, / Or ells
e fende
the will atteyntŽ )lines …*. Even more signi2
cant is the reason she gives a
reluctant 
omas, after his seven- year sojourn in fairyland, for his return to
the world:
Bot langere here
ou may noghte duelle,
e skylle I sall
e telle whare fore:
Believing in Fairies
the pale. Walter Map tells two Faust- like tales of men who put themselves
in the power of demons, and both are lulled into a sense of false security
when their Mephistopheles 2
gures )in one case a female called, signi2
cantly,
Meridiana* claim to be harmless fairies. You fear perhaps an illusion,Ž says
Meridiana, and are meaning to evade the subtlety of a succubus in my per-
son. You are mistakenŽ;
and the other tells his victim, a young knight called
Eudo, We can do anything that makes for laughter and nothing that makes
for tears. Now I am one of those exiles from heaven who, without abetting or
consenting to the crime of Lucifer, were foolishly and unthinkingly carried
away in the train of his accomplicesŽ )p.*. Deceived by these and similar
stories,Ž says Map, Eudo cheerfully assented to the pactŽ )p.*. Clearly some
clerics felt that the fable of the neutral angels was fraught with spiritual dan-
ger, while the notion of redeemable demons was, if anything, even worse. 
at
some demons are good, others well- intentioned, others omniscient, others nei-
ther saved nor damned. Error9Ž [quod aliqui demones boni sint, alii benigni,
alii omniscientes, alii nec salvi nec damnati. Error] was the unequivocal pro-
nouncement of the Paris theological faculty in .
Vernacular tradition too seems to have balked at the idea of fairies as neu-
tral angels. For instance, the French romance of
Esclarmonde
)a continuation
of
Huon of Bourdeaux
* is careful to distinguish neutral angels from genuine
fairies. Having narrowly escaped from a shipwreck as he is hastening to arrive
at the deathbed of his fairy mentor, Oberon, Huon comes upon a monastery,
where he attends a strangely truncated form of the mass; by producing a holy
object )a stole* he forces one of the monks to reveal his true nature to him,
and he and his fellows turn out to be neutral angels.
e whole point of this
episode seems to be to di"
erentiate these neutral angels from the actual fair-
ies )whose chief is Oberon*. 
ough the Middle En glish translation draws no
clear distinction between neutral and fallen angels )al we that be here were
chasyd out of paradyse with lucyferŽ*,
it portrays these spirits as holding out
a hope of salvation: but we that be here yet we hope to come to saluacyonŽ
)p.*.  e French original, though, makes it quite plain that they do in fact
belong to the third party of angels, those who sided with neither God nor
Lucifer: La tierce pars ne se sot v tenir / Ou a celui [Lucifer] ou au vrai
JesuscristŽ )lines …*. 
e Middle En glish translation does distinguish
these beings from both humans and fairies„ [we] be conuersant amonge the
people, as well as they of the fayeryŽ )p.*„ but implies that they exercise
some power over the fairies: we be tho that hathe the conducte of al the fay-
ery of the worldŽ )p.*. 
e French original by contrast makes the storm in
 (\t
account,
not only pairing these lesser dev ils with fairies but even suggesting
that they might merit pardon at Doomsday:
er were
at for hom somdel . in mis
t were
Ac na
eles hi hulde bet mid God . ac vnne
e hi forbere
ulke wende out of heuene ek . and aboue
ere beo
Anhei vnder
e 2 rmament . and Godes wille iseo
And so ssolle
be[o] somdel in pine . forte
e worles ende
Ac hi ssolle
a Domesday . a
en to heuene wende )lines …*
 ere were others who, because their thoughts strayed somewhat
)even though they were more inclined to God, they barely held
themselves back* also departed from heaven, and they are above the
others, raised up below the heavens, and recognize Gods will; and
so they must be punished somewhat until the end of the world, but
they shall return again to heaven at Doomsday]
and again, 
at beo
of
e wrecche gostes .
at of heuene were inome / And
mony of hom a Domesday . ssolle
ute to reste comeŽ )lines …* [
ey
are the wretched spirits who were taken from heaven, and many of them shall
yet 2
nd peace at Doomsday]. 
is idea turns up elsewhere and may even be
responsible for Dante locating his neutral angels in the vestibule of hell )
In-
ferno
:…*. 
e fairy Melusine, for example, tells her husband that her natu-
ral lot is to remain in greuouse and obscure penytence . . . vnto the day of
domme,Ž
and that this view had penetrated vernacular consciousness is
proved by the testimony of a suspected Cathar dragged before the inquisition
in the early fourteenth century: but all the spirits who did not expressly
consent or believe in the devil, but were only swept up in the disturbance
created by the devil and sinned, as it were, unknowingly, spirits of this kind
are human [?mortal] and all shall at length be saved on the Day of Judg-
mentŽ [set omnes spiritus qui non expresse consenserunt vel crediderunt dy-
abolo, set solum accesserunt ad turbationem quam dyabolys fecit, et quasi
inscii peccaverunt, cuiusmodi sunt spiritus humani, omnes 2 naliter in die
iudicii salvarentur]
is attempt to o"
er an acceptably anodyne version of the demon/fairy
conjunction ultimately satis2
ed no one. Scholastic theology could not accept
the idea that there were degrees of guilt among the followers of Satan,
while
the notion that some dev ils were actually redeemable lay even further beyond
Believing in Fairies
were only minor dev ils, less culpable than those who had been thrown into
the pit of hell with Satan. Gervase of Tilbury in his
Otia Imperialia
)ca. *
suggests that fairies who roam the earth can hardly be equated with the fallen
angels who were thrust down to the dungeons of nether darkness to remain
there till Doomsday ) Pet. :*: it must be, then, that those who sided with
the devil but whose pride was less grievous were reserved to provide phantoms
of this nature to punish humankind.Ž
In Caesarius of Heisterbachs
Dialo-
gus Miraculorum
, when the novice observes that some dev ils are better than
others [non omnes daemones aequaliter mali sunt], his master replies that cer-
tain ones, it is said, while others were raising themselves up against God with
Lucifer, merely consented, and these indeed fell with the others, but are less
evil and harm men less than the othersŽ [quidam, ut dicitur, aliis cum Lucifero
contra Deum se extollentibus simpliciter consenserunt, et hi quidem cum
 (\t
century John Bromyard reported that attempts to prohibit rituals for recover-
ing stolen property )a standard activity for cunning men and women* might
be met with de2
ance: they say it is not the work of the devil but of the fair
folk [that is, the fairies], for we havent learnt it from the devil, nor do we be-
lieve in him, but from the fair folkŽ [sed dicunt non per diabolum, sed pul-
chrum populum, nec a diabolo didicimus nec ei credimus sed pulchro populo].
Occasionally, indeed, acts of civil disobedience might invoke fairy protection,
apparently re1
ecting an instinctive association of fairies with other targets of
oppressive regulation. In January  
omas Cheyne led a rebellion in Kent
)a harbinger of the much more serious uprising of Jack Cade later in the same
year*, and among the pseudonyms adopted by its leaders were those of the King
of Fairyland and the Queen of Fairyland )
Regem de  eyre
and
Reginam de
 eyre
Pop u lar sentiment was clearly in favor of the rebels, but the oon call-
ing hym self Queen of the feyreŽ seems to have been particularly charismatic„
a con temporary London chronicler remarking that he did noon oppression
nor hurt to any persone.Ž
ough the full signi2
cance of this impersonation
is now impossible to recover, evidently the discourse of fairyland o"
ered the
rebels a shared language that they felt they could use against their oppressors:
a slightly later indictment accuses a group of poachers of disguising them-
selves with long beards and blackened faces and proclaiming themselves the
servants of the Queen of Fairyland, intending that they should identify
[themselves] by the nameŽ [nuncupantes se esse servientes Regine del Faire
eaintencione ut ipsi a nomine cognoscerent].
A similar rising, popu lar in
origin . . . and plebeian in character,Ž
occurred in the north of Eng land in
; William Paston III recounts the rebels call to arms and then adds sar-
castically, And thys is in the name of Mayster Hobbe Hyrste, Robyn
God- felaws brodyr he is, as I trow.Ž
Robin Goodfellow is of course a well-
known fairy name, but Hob Hurst is much more obscure, surviving only in
a Derbyshire place- name for a prehistoric tumulus, Hob Hursts House.
Like Cheynes Queen of Fairyland, Robin Goodfellows brother here looks
very much like an early instance of the common people turning to fairy im-
personation in defense of their traditional rights. Hobbe was to have many
descendants, however, his line reaching down to the nineteenth century.
We may infer that the crude characterization of fairies as simply dev ils,
or dev ilish illusions, did not go unchallenged, for pastoral )as opposed to scho-
lastic* theology seems early to have evolved a rather more palatable variation
)more palatable, that is, to those who were apparently ready to regard fairies
as potentially benevolent creatures*. By this account, fairies, while still dev ils,
Believing in Fairies
So sayd my Sone to His aposteles twelve,
Whan ye stand,Ž He seyd, befor the dome
Of many tyrauntys, and ye alone youreselve,
ow thei yow calle Lollard, whych, or elve,
Beth not dysmayd„ I schall gyve yow ans were.Ž ):…*
is is evidently based on an apocalyptic passage that appears in three of the
four gospels,
but none of them alludes to anything that remotely suggests
fairies. Peter Idley in the mid- 2
fteenth century insisted that even white magic
 (\t
and she replied that she had it from God and the Blessed Virgin
and the gracious fairies. 
e judge asked her what they might
be,and Marion replied that they were little people who gave her
information whenever she wanted it. 
e judge asked her whether
these little people believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit, and she replied that they believed only in the Father
Almighty. He asked her if she had ever been in heaven, and she said
that she had. He asked her if she had seen God in heaven, and she
said that she had, and He was wearing a golden mantle. She
alsosaid that by the power of the gracious fairies she had talked
with the Archangel Gabriel and St Stephen.
Evidently the judge was su$
ciently intrigued by this account of fairy trans-
portation to set a trap for her: he asked if she had been to Canterbury through
the power of the fairies and she said yes, and asked where was the tomb of the
blessed martyr 
omas, she said [wrongly, of course] it was in the churchyardŽ
)p.*. Unsurprisingly, a later court in Norwich Cathedral declared all such
arts to be superstitious and to lead to suspicion of heretical pravityŽ )p.*,
and Marion was forced to recant. As with 
omas of Cantimpr
s story, what
is so striking about Marions testimony is less her belief that she had visited
some kind of fairy
locus amoenus
)John Bromyard had written of certain de-
luded women who believed themselves taken o"
by a certain race and led to
certain beautiful and unknown places [quae dicunt se rapi a quodam populo,
duci ad loca quaedam pulchra, ignota]*
than the way in which )like a
later cunning man from Sussex who claimed to be aided by the archangel
Uriel, a great prince of the FayriesŽ*
her account has become entangled
with Christian machinery. 
e celebrated Cambridge song Heriger, urbis
Maguntiacensis,Ž which tells of an otherworld deep in the woods visited by a
prophet who says he saw Christ, John the Baptist, and Saint Peter sitting at
a feast, o"
ers a much earlier instance of this phenomenon.
We are accustomed to thinking of popu lar superstitions as falling well
outside the bound aries of heresy because they can have posed no coherent in-
tellectual challenge to orthodox dogma, but by the 2
fteenth century the En-
glish churchs attitude to them was clearly hardening, and there is evidence
that in pastoral, if not in scholastic, circles such beliefs may have regularly been
felt to be heretical. A remarkable passage in John Capgraves
Life of Saint Kath-
erine
, for instance, speaks of witches and elves in the same breath as Lollards;
the Virgin Mary is here instructing the hermit who is to convert the saint:
Believing in Fairies
west of Eng land in the late fourteenth century. Despite its title, the
Disputa-
tion Between a Christian and a Jew
has little to do with any kind of genuine
intellectual exchange between the representatives of Chris tian ity and those
of Judaism. 
e authors grasp of even the most basic tenets of the Jewish faith
is clearly shaky, but in his eagerness to demonstrate the superiority of Chris-
tian ity to other religions, he appears to have constructed an entirely factitious
old law out of such scraps of fairy belief as he was able to gather. 
e central
episode closely resembles 
omas of Cantimpr
s anecdote in that the true
believer is taken by the Jew to a wonderful land where he is shown a simula-
crum of Christ on the cross surrounded by Mary and the disciples, but when he
exhibits a mass wafer, the whole illusion vanishes.
e machinery of fairy-
land, however, is even more precisely elaborated. 
e two men, described rather
surprisingly as clerks of divinity in Paris, enter a cleft in the earth and follow a
paved road leading to a handsome manor adorned with purple and gold; there,
in a natu ral landscape of luxuriant richness, time is felt to pass more swiftly
than in the human world )Hose lenge wolde long, / "
ul luitel him
ouhtŽ
[lines …]*,
and it is particularly striking that they should encounter King
Arthur and al
e rounde table goodŽ )line * among the residents. 
e visi-
tors pass on to a nunnery, where a ladi so fre,Ž who seems to be a cross between
an abbess and a fairy queen, welcomes them wi
rial rehetŽ )line *;
it is
in her splendid hall that the Christian unmasks the illusory cruci2 xion scene,
the building bursts, the lights go out, and the two men 2
nd themselves
standing o
e hulle /
ey furst wereŽ )lines …*.
Accounts such as these might seem to re1
ect the delusions of clerics out
of touch with vernacular culture, but )as we shall see in the next chapter* it
would be a mistake to overstate the gulf between clergy and laity in such
matters or underestimate the complexity of vernacular beliefs. 
e testimony
of a Su"
olk woman named Marion Clerk, examined in the course of an ar-
chiepiscopal visitation in , suggests that these accounts may well have had
some basis in real ity. It is worth quoting at length:
Marion Clerk, daughter of John and Agnes Clerk, was noted for
the use of superstitious art . . . in that, it was asserted, she had the
art of healing people of vari ous diseases, of prophesying future
events and declaring what misfortunes would befall those who
came to her, and revealing the whereabouts of certain hidden
trea sures. To this charge she replied that she did have this ability.
e judge asked her where and from whom she had learnt this art,
 (\t
to remind us of a fairy king and queen as of Christ and his mother. Once
again,
Sir Orfeo
ers an example:
er-in her maister king sete,
her quen, fair swete:
Her crounes, her clo
es schine so bri
at vnne
e bihold he hem mi
t. )lines …*
In the popu lar mind fairy lore might have been reconciled with Christian
teaching in ways that would have scandalized the more educated members
of the clergy. Fi nally, the shape- shifting ability of these demons )evident
in
omas of Erceldoune
, among others* is also a fairy commonplace. What is
particularly striking about this story, however, is 
omas of Cantimpr
s trans-
lation of such fairy lore into an actual heresy )in fact, a potential target for
the notorious inquisitor Conrad of Marburg*, with the suggestion that it con-
stitutes an or ga nized doctrinal system: you will receive the secrets of our
faith from his mouth.Ž Fairy beliefs hover at the edge of consciousness for some
medieval inquisitors,
but )except where the imagery of fairyland becomes
entwined with the discourse of witchcraft, as was certainly to happen in the
early- modern period* it is unusual to 2
nd them cast as a full- 1
edged heresy in
this way.
No doubt Margaret Murray, had she known of this account, would have
regarded it as conclusive evidence for her imaginative theories about the sur-
vival of the old religion,
but as with the later Scottish witchcraft trials on
which she drew so heavi ly, what ever coherent structure these beliefs appear to
possess seems largely a projection of their adversaries own fantastic obsessions
rather than a re1
ection of their holders esoteric knowledge.
As impor tant
as the substance of such charges, however, is their tone. From our perspective
omas of Cantimpr
s response seems out of all proportion to the serious-
ness of the threat, but there is no mistaking its antagonism. By linking it with
Conrad of Marburgs German crusade, indeed, he is setting it on a par with
the far better documented heresy of the Cathars.
)Conrad was not alone in
making such an association, however )as we shall see with Huon de M
ris
poem the
Tornoiement de lantichrist
Not all medieval churchmen shared 
omass paranoia, for a curious
Middle En glish poem called the
Disputation Between a Christian and a Jew,
pres ents a similar set of motifs in a rather more even tone.
It is found in a
famous anthology of religious verse, the Vernon Manuscript, compiled in the
Believing in Fairies
the friar immediately recoil, he said to him: You are very 2
rm in
your faith yet you have seen no more credible evidence of it than
what is found in certain books. But if you should wish to believe
my words I might show you Christ and his mother and the saints
in plain sight.Ž 
e friar at once suspected a demonic illusion, but
wishing to put it to the test, said, Not without cause would I then
believe, were you to put your promises into e"
ect.Ž 
e joyful
heretic set a date for the friar. 
e friar however secretly took along
a pix containing Christs holy body concealed under his cloak. 
heretic then led the friar into a very spacious palace in a cave in a
mountain, which shone with a wonderful brightness. 
ey came
directly to the lower part of the palace, where they saw thrones
placed, as if made of the purest gold, and on them a king,
surrounded with glittering splendor, and next to him a most
beautiful queen with a radiant face, and on either side benches on
which were older men like patriarchs or prophets with a great
multitude of angels sitting around, and they were all glittering with
starlight )though they might be judged to be nothing less than
demons*. As soon as he saw them, the heretic adored them lying
down before them. But the friar stood motionless, deeply stunned
by such a spectacle, and the heretic turned to him at once and said,
Why do you not adore the son of God when you see him? Go and
prostrate yourself; worship him whom you see and you will receive
the secrets of our faith from his mouth.Ž
At this point Brother Conrad 2
nally displays his concealed host, the illusion
vanishes, and the crestfallen heretic is returned to the true faith.
I give this story at such length because there can be little doubt that Con-
rads heresy has been built up from a number of ele ments of traditional fairy
lore. We have only to ask ourselves why demons should be portrayed as living
in a palace )and this is not the only place where a Dominican preacher de-
scribes demons in this way*
to recognize that 
omass demonology has been
in2 ltrated by vernacular conceptions of fairyland. 
e very spacious palace
in a cave in a mountain, which shone with a wonderful brightnessŽ is an ex-
tremely common fairy locale; in En glish romance, for instance, it occurs in
Sir Orfeo, 
omas of Erceldoune
, and
Reinbrun
e king, surrounded with
glittering splendor, and his beautiful queen with her radiant face are as likely
 (\t
that their human counter parts were actually still sleeping soundly in their
beds.
e recognition that in the discourse of the late medieval church fairies
are demons )or demonic illusions* has impor tant consequences for the study
of vernacular belief. If fairies are demons, it follows that demons, or at least
some demons, are fairies, and this insight opens up a world of still largely un-
explored ecclesiastical material for investigation. Understandably, writers on
medieval fairy beliefs have hitherto concentrated mainly on vernacular
writing, chie1
y romances, where fairyland is generally treated with some-
thing like transparency, though they have often supplemented these sources
with the commentary of learned writers such as Gerald of Wales, Walter Map,
Gervase of Tilbury, and William of Newburgh. However, when we turn to
pastoral manuals, saints lives, sermons, exempla, and miracle tales, we en-
counter a host of fairies masquerading as dev ils. Admittedly they are generally
more shadowy 2
gures than their counter parts in vernacular romance, but
they o"
er the great advantage of highlighting the attitudes of the representa-
tives of o$
cial culture toward them. It is this interplay of learned and ver-
nacular culture in the Middle Ages that constitutes the main theme of this
book.
Strictly speaking, if fairies are dev ils, then it must also follow that any
belief in fairies as non- devils is potentially heretical. Surprisingly, such an un-
compromising line is rarely openly expressed in medieval ecclesiastical dis-
course, at least before the 2 fteenth century, but it is certainly implicit in a
remarkable story told by the thirteenth- century Belgian Dominican 
omas
of Cantimpr
in his
Bonum Universale de Apibus
. Augustine in his
City of God
brie1
y discusses creatures he calls
dusii
, which he represents as the Gaulish
equivalents of those Silvans and Pans, commonly called
incubi
Ž [silvanos et
panes, quos vulgo incubos vocant] who were said to seduce women„in other
words, creatures that a later age would call fairies.
omas gives this dra-
matic account of how such 
dusii
- demons inhabit the mountains and corrupt
and derange their dupesŽ:
In  when Master Conrad was preaching against the heretics
in Germany and died a blessed death at their hands,
a certain
heretic who had been corrupted by demons solicited a Dominican
friar to join his heresy )as I heard many years ago from Brother
Conrad, the Dominican Provincial in Germany*.
When he saw
Believing in Fairies
e popu lar late eleventh- century theological handbook the
Elucidarium
composed in Eng land by Honorius of Autun )or Augsberg*,
though it deals
at length with good and bad angels, has nothing whatsoever to say about fair-
ies. 
is silence is unsurprising since the earliest position taken by the church
on the question of fairies seems to have been to deny their real ity altogether:
Credidisti quod quidam credere solent,Ž asks Bishop Burchard of Worms in
a penitential from around the year , quod sint agrestes feminae, quas
sylvaticas vocant?Ž [Have you believed what some are accustomed to believe
that there are rural women whom they call sylvans?] 
e bishop then makes
quite clear the fatuity of such a belief: Si credidisti, decem dies in pane et
aqua poeniteasŽ [If you have believed it, do penance on bread and water for
ten days].
 ings were very di"
er ent, however, by the thirteenth century,
when, in an adaptation of another of Burchards warnings against supersti-
tious practices )this one against making gifts to satyri vel pilosiŽ to obtain
their goodwill*, these creatures were changed to diaboli . . . quos faunos vo-
cantŽ [dev ils whom they call fauns], and the penance increased from ten days
to 2 fteen.
By the time of an early fourteenth- century French Dominican redaction
and translation of the
Elucidarium
known as the
Second Lucidaire
the
faithful are left in no doubt not only that fairies exist, but also that they are
quite simply dev ils: 
And
vnto the regarde of
e feyryes the which man sayth
were wonte to be in tymes past, they were not men ne women naturalles
but were deuylles
e whiche shewed themselfe vnto
e people of
tyme, for
they were paynyms, ydolatres
and with
out fayth.Ž

ings are a little more
complicated than this, however, for the
Lucydarye
has a second explanation
of fairy phenomena; they can also be dev ilish illusions )what Oddur Einarsson
calls
fraudes Sathanae
*, rather than actual dev ils: And theyr vysyons ben
semblables vnto theym of a man the whiche is dronke, vnto whome it semeth
that the house turneth vnder his fete, by
e whiche he falleth, and al the house
ne the erthe remeueth not. In lyke wyse the deuyl them sheweth these vysyons
in theyr entendementeŽ )p.*. 
is distinction, which goes back at least to
William of Auvergne, may seem like hairsplitting, but it was evidently impor-
tant to medieval churchmen as a way of accounting for di"
er ent kinds of
fairy phenomena, particularly the ability of fairies to impersonate humans.
us
tienne de Bourbon retells the old story of how Saint Germain, recog-
nizing that it was the trickery of demonsŽ [cognoscens autem esse demonum
ludi2
cationem], exposed the true nature of what appeared to be a group of
local people attending a feast set out for the fairies )
bone res
Ž* by proving
 (\t
of our land have been oppressed by these earth- dwellers and
innocent boys and girls and the young people and adolescents of
both sexes have very often been taken away, though quite a few are
restored safe and sound after a number of days, or sometimes a
number of weeks, but some are never seen again, and certain ones are
found half- alive, etc. But it would be tedious to waste more of this
study on them; for whether these things are brought about by the
frauds, impostures, and illusions of the devil, which seems to be
theview of almost all the more reasonable people, or whether they are
some kind of mixed species created between spirits and animals, as
some conjecture, yet it is certain that the appearance of these spirits
has been common in many other regions, not only in Iceland, so that
it is pointless to take this [their ubiquity in Iceland] as evidence that
these curious creatures
were fashioned in the underworld.
Some Eu ro pean traditions locate fairies in castles deep in the woods or even
in realms beneath the surface of lakes, rather than in underground kingdoms,
but other wise Oddur Einarssons description conforms closely to the common
understanding of the vast majority of medieval people. 
ough several other
kinds of interaction are certainly pos si ble, fairies most often impinge on the
human life world in two ways: by copulating with mortals or by abducting
them. What is more in ter est ing about Oddurs account for our immediate pur-
poses, however, is the attempt he makes to explain these creatures in terms of
a standard Christian cosmology.  e two possibilities he suggests„ that they
are either a trick of the devil )
fraus Sathanae
* or some kind of mixed species
genus mixtum
* halfway between spirit and animal„ are found elsewhere,
though his apparent reluctance to concede that fairies may actually be dev ils
)a third explanation that was widely entertained by other authorities* seems
due to an understandable reluctance to endorse the common belief that the
mouth of hell was situated in Iceland.
Citing James Is statement that the spirites that are called vulgarlie called
the FayrieŽ are one of the four kinds of devil conversing in the earth,ŽC.S.
Lewis suggested that the idea that fairies were really dev ils became the
o$
cial viewŽ only around the beginning of the seventeenth century.
In actu-
ality, however, it had been the orthodox position of the church for more than
three hundred years. While traces of it can be detected much earlier,
it was
rst set out systematically in William of Auvergnes
De Universo
)written in
the s* and was frequently reiterated throughout the later Middle Ages.
Believing in Fairies
rather more modest: to elucidate not the whole territory of the medieval mar-
velous but merely one of its most prominent 2
efdoms„ that of fairyland.
For sixteenth- century Eng land, it is a comparatively simple matter,
inM.W. Lathams words, to reproduce the everyday belief of the Elizabethans
concerning the fairies, to treat the fairies not as mythical personages or as
fanciful creations of the literary imagination or of popu lar superstition, but
to regard them, as did their human contemporaries of the 
century, as cred-
ible entities and as actual and existing beings.Ž
For the Middle Ages, how-
ever, the prob lem of trying to imagine what it would feel like to believe in
fairies is compounded by the fact that much of what little evidence there is
comes from texts written by members of a clerical elite who o$
cially did
not
believe in them, at least not as credible entities and as actual and existing
beings,Ž and who felt obliged for the most part to show open hostility to all
such beliefs. Nevertheless the attempts of such people to rationalize, negate,
or dismiss fairy beliefs can tell us a great deal about both their vigor and their
ubiquity.
One of the most concise and thorough descriptions of the kind of crea-
ture I am concerned with in this book appears in a treatise on the geography
of Iceland written in the late sixteenth century prob ably by Oddur Einarsson,
the Lutheran bishop of Sk
lholt; it will provide us with a useful point of
departure:
But some [beings], who live in the hills close to men, are more
amicable and not so dangerous unless they chance to have been
harmed by some kind of injury and provoked to wickedness. 
ey
seem, indeed, to be endowed with bodies of incredible subtlety,
since they are even thought to enter into mountains and hills.
 ey are invisible to us unless they wish to appear of their own
volition, yet the properties of certain mens eyes are such that the
presence of no spirit can ever escape their sight )as was Lynceuss
unhappy situation*. 
ey know a thousand devices and an in2
nite
number of tricks with which they harass men in wretched ways,
but their young people are said to have a similar stature, clothing,
and even way of life to that of their human neighbors, and to take
excessive plea sure in coupling with humans. Examples are not
lacking of a number of the rogues who are said to have impregnated
women beneath the earth and had access to them at 2 xed times or
as many times as they wished. And from time to time the women
 (\t
witness, or think we had witnessed, or merely to believe in, the
things. What it would feel like, and why.
Perhaps the innate elusiveness of all such
ferlies
must render any theory of them
nally inadequate )the medieval fantastic,Ž writes Francis Dubost, is just as
evanescent as its modern counterpartŽ*,
but for what ever reason, more than
fty years later Lewiss challenge is still to be met.
Pro gress, however, has been made on both fronts. In ful2 llment of Lewiss
rst condition, that of purely literary analy sis, we can point to a number of
ne studies. In Eng land, Helen Cooper, Corinne Saunders, and James Wade
have recently made impor tant contributions,
and in France literary study of
le merveilleux
is now regarded as mainstream.
In the United States literary
scholars such as Je"
rey Jerome Cohen and Geraldine Heng have concerned
themselves with the more extreme manifestations of the marvelous, in par tic-
u lar associating the grotesque and the monstrous with issues of race, identity,
and gender.
Ful2 llment of Lewiss second condition, the study of
ferlies
as
things, has been made much easier by the work of historians of medieval
talit
s, particularly that of the
annalistes
Jacques Le Go"
and Jean- Claude
Schmitt in France
and in the English- speaking world by a number of pre-
modernists following in the footsteps of Keith 
omas.
ough it should now
be much simpler than it would have been in  to illuminate the
ferlies
of
romance by imagining what it would feel like . . . to believe in the things,Ž
the dominant mode of critical analy sis has remained stubbornly functionalist
)magic used as a literary toolŽ*,
at least in the Anglophone world.
Even Fredric
Jameson, for all that his recognition that magical narratives )that is, ro-
mances* belong to a world where nature remains a mysterious and alien border
around the still precarious and minute human activities of village and 2
eld,Ž
treats magic as a literary device, a solution to the prob lem of apprehending
unstable chivalric loyalties in a period of emergent class solidarity )p.*. My
own conviction is that we will make real pro gress only when we learn to treat
magic, or at least its manifestations in medieval lit er a ture ) those things that
Lewis called
ferlies
*, less as tenor and more as vehicle, to adaptI.A. Richardss
terminology; the 2
rst task is not to establish what such
ferlies
represent or ex-
emplify or epitomize, but rather to ask what they
and what cultural work
they are doing. From this perspective Lewis was putting the cart before the
horse: literary diagnosis, I believe, should properly follow, not precede, the
study of
ferlies
as things. Even with this proviso, however, I cannot pretend to
be responding to Lewiss general call to arms here; my aim in what follows is
Believing in Fairies
One asking what hee thought of Fayries: hee answered, he thought
they were spirits; but hee distinguished betweene them and other
&\t '(\t  
gap between clerical and secular authorities, the control of vernacular belief
became more and more exacting, culminating in the terrible witch hunts of
the early modern period.
Accordingly the last three chapters of this book will examine the churchs
attempts to regulate fairyland in three critical domains. Chapter follows its
campaign to marginalize popu lar attitudes to copulation, pregnancy, and
childbirth and in par tic u lar its demonization of one especially prominent fairy
lover, Merlins father. In Chapter we see how a motif popularly associated
with child rearing, that of the fairy changeling, disturbed the sensibilities of
both churchmen and
patresfamilias
, and how it resisted their attempts to sup-
press it; here we focus particularly on the repre sen ta tion of the changeling in
the mystery plays. In Chapter we consider fairyland as the resort of old heroes
such as King Arthur and some of the ways in which the church responded to
the scandalous notion of a deathless survival in Avalon; an exploration of the
role played by Avalon in the twelfth- century birth of purgatory concludes this
study. In a brief Postscript I discuss fairy lore as an impor tant target for
sixteenth- century witch- hunters and associate the comparative leniency of
En glish witch- hunting with a discourse of skepticism that can be traced in part
to the prestige of Geo"
rey Chaucer, a celebrated fairy unbeliever.
 &\t '(\t 
regarded what ever challenge con temporary folklore was able to o"
er fascism
as fragmented and incoherent compared with the philosophy of praxisŽ )that
is, the version of Marxism that he himself espoused*, but at the same time he
remained an astute observer of popu lar re sis tance to the dominant culture par-
ticularly as a historical phenomenon, as his account of the nineteenth- century
&\t '(\t  
ous feast deep in the woods, and yet scholars have rarely noted its obvious
fairy associations.
My point is not, of course, that Celtic traditions were un-
important in this re spect )we shall be using the Breton forest of Broc
liande
as a test case in Chapter* but simply that they were not the
fons et origo
of all
medieval fairy lore.
e fairies with whom I am concerned in this book are
pan- European, and the questions they raise should not be quarantined to the
margins, either geo graph i cal or cultural, of medieval society.
A further disclaimer concerns the role of folklore. I have not been profes-
sionally trained as a folklorist, nor can I lay claim to any special pro2
ciency
in this area. In one regard, like, I suspect, many of my medievalist colleagues,
I am wary of the use of customs and beliefs recorded in more recent times to
throw light on medieval practices. Folklore, as Antonio Gramsci was quick
to point out, is far from static, and the notion of a popu lar culture so deeply
conservative that it is pos si ble to treat any given nineteenth- century custom
not only as a potential medieval relic but also as evidence for actual medieval
practice seems to me highly dubious. On the other hand, the modern folklor-
ist does have one enormous advantage over any medievalist who sets out to
construe earlier popu lar culture: she can question her in for mants and attempt
to expose what it is they think they are doing and why they are doing it. While
projecting back the results of such investigations to the Middle Ages can never
constitute proof, it does o"
er us a valuable analogical tool. Valdimar Hafstein,
for instance, compares a thousand- year- old vision in the
ttr
randa ok
rhalls
of many a hill . . . opening, and every living thing, both small and
large, . . . packing its bags and movingŽ in the face of impending Christian-
ization to stories of elves being displaced by new roads and housing develop-
ments in late twentieth- century Iceland, and concludes that urbanization is as
anathema to modern day elves as Chris tian ity was to their pagan forebears.Ž
Looking at the pres ent through the lens of the past, Hafstein sees elf belief as
deeply conservative„ rooted in nostalgia for an imagined au then tic Iceland
threatened by modernization. However, if we reverse the polarities, if we con-
sider medieval beliefs in the light of the modern experience, a further dy-
namic emerges„ one that has more the look of spontaneous re sis tance than of
nostalgic resignation; after all, even in pres ent- day Iceland fear of o"
ending
the elves can cause roads to be diverted and housing developments to be relo-
cated.
is view of the po liti cal signi2
cance of folkloric beliefs is one propounded
by the Marxist Antonio Gramsci,
whose views have admittedly not always
been welcomed by folklorists.
Writing in Mussolinis Italy, Gramsci evidently
 &\t '(\t 
woud heer
or
woudt- her
faunus agrestis*, and he is saying in e"
ect So
youre called Walthere, are you? Well you really )
quippe
* do seem to be Walt-
heer, the wood- sprite, by the incorporeal way youve been avoiding arrows
and lances.Ž

ere could hardly be anything less ostensibly Celtic than this
poem about Germanic heroes, set in the Vosges mountains and quite possibly
written in Switzerland,
and yet the
Waltharius
can hardly be later than the
tenth century and may well have been composed in the ninth; moreover, at
least one of its manuscripts can be dated to the mid- eleventh century„ earlier
than the Irish
Book of the Dun Cow
and considerably earlier than the oldest
manuscript of the Welsh
Mabinogion
One might of course argue that such
Celtic legendary material predates the manuscripts that rec ord them, but this
is an argument that can be applied to the Germanic materials as well.
As an illustration of the distortion that the Celtic fallacy can cause, we
might consider Dorena Allens other wise excellent article Orpheus and Orfeo:
e Dead and the Taken.Ž Having noted in postmedieval Celtic folklore ex-
amples of those taken by the fairies )something we shall explore more fully
in Chapter*, she expresses surprise at coming across this motif in a thirteenth-
century Belgian writer, 
omas of Cantimpr
, and concludes, quite unnec-
essarily, that we must have tales of Celtic origin with which, in ways too
fortuitous to be discovered, [a Flemish narrator has] become acquainted, and
to which [he has] given a local coloring.Ž
omas spent much of his early
life near Cambrai, some 2 fty miles northwest of the Ardennes forest, an area
with a strong fairy tradition:
Partonopeu de Blois
is set in the Ardennes, and
so too is the episode in
Reinbrun
in which the hero rescues his fathers friend
Amis from fairy captivity. Judging by his name, Jean dArras, the author of
the fairy romance
lusine
, came from a town near Cambrai, and this Jean
seems also to have been one of the collectors of old wives tales that make up
vangiles des quenouilles
.  ere is no reason to suppose that the fairy lore
appearing in the
vangiles
, or in any of these romances, is anything other than
homegrown or that when 
omas of Cantimpr
reports stories of neighbors
taken by the fairies he is merely giving local coloringŽ to imported Celtic
material. 
e single most informative source for medieval fairy beliefs, cited
many times in this book, is William of Auvergnes
De Universo
, and it is quite
clear that this Pa ri sian scholar draws heavi ly on the traditions of south- central
France, where he was brought up. One danger of an overconcentration on the
Celtic connection is that fairy allusions from other areas tend to be missed;
for instance, the Cambridge lyric Heriger, Bishop of Mainz,Ž from early
thirteenth- century Germany, is about a fortune- teller who attends a mysteri-
&\t '(\t  
thirteenth- century Anglo- Norman medical treatise that begins, Conjuro vos,
From the middle of the 2
fteenth century they were increasingly referred
to as
fairies
in Eng land,
but other terms for them )
wodwose
s,
pouks, goblins
or
hobs
, for example* were sometimes used. What ever the name, I shall treat as
fairies all creatures who behave in the way I have just described.
A second issue that will not detain me in this study is the Celtic origins of
fairy lore. As far as I can see just about every region in medieval Eu rope had
its fairy traditions. Fairies are to be found from Iceland to Sicily and from the
Pyrenees to the Ruhr, but the notion that Wales, Scotland, and Ireland have a
par tic u lar claim on them is deeply ingrained in the consciousness of the English-
speaking world. Two main factors seem to be responsible for this view. In the
rst place, stories concerning King Arthur, many of which are 2 lled with fairy
lore, have proved to be among the most enduring of all medieval legends; since
they clearly arose among Celtic speakers, particularly the Welsh, we tend in-
stinctively to locate the source of all medieval fairy beliefs in Wales. On the
other hand, had the legend cycles of Huon of Bordeaux or Godfrey of
Bouillon, both of which contain prominent fairy ele ments, attained a postme-
dieval reputation comparable to King Arthurs, we might now have a very
er ent notion of the epicenter of Eu ro pean fairy beliefs. Second, fairy tradi-
tions have survived more tenaciously in Celtic- speaking countries, perhaps
most notably Ireland, than anywhere else in the English- speaking world;
since Irish fairies have a 2
rm place in modern popu lar culture, we tend to as-
sume that they somehow preempt similar beliefs elsewhere.  e fairy beliefs
of the Nordic world, particularly Iceland, have proved to be just as long- lived,
however, and only their far greater cultural distance from En glish speakers
has made them appear more tangential. No doubt other factors„ the relative
prominence of Celtic scholars among En glish folklorists, for instance,
or the
literary prestige of writers such asW.B. Yeats andJ.R.R. Tolkien )whose
elves are unmistakably Celtic*„ have reinforced the impression that fairies are
primarily a Celtic phenomenon.
It is not even necessarily true that texts in Welsh and Irish contain the
earliest medieval literary references to fairies, at least not if we go by manuscript
date rather than the hy po thet i cal dating of the material itself. At one point in
the Latin epic
Walthariu
s, for example, when Walter of Aquitaine is defending
himself in a pass in the Vosges against the Burgundian King Gunther and his
men, one of his enemies, a man named Ekivrid, taunts him with the implica-
tion that he is a fairy: You seem just like a woodland sprite [
 &\t '(\t 
e closest equivalent in En glish for this specialized sense would have been
nightmare )in French
cauchemar
and in German
nachtmahr
*, but
incubus
un-
derwent semantic generalization early„ though not, as 
omas of Cantimpr
would have it, to earthbound spirit but rather )as we shall see in Chapter* to
fairy lover. Fi nally, when he comes to the wicked spirits of the air )evidently
omas has no speci2
c name for them and must resort to
Ephesians
:*, he
starts out by describing demonic tempests )not obviously di"
er ent from those
caused by the
vespae
* and then falls back on the general category of illusions
)which turn out to include
blattae
- like dreams and
incubi
- like seductions9*.
After all this we should not be surprised to 2
nd that 
omas seems to have
completely forgotten about the beetles )
* with which he started out. In
the end he simply gives up and launches into a recital of miscellaneous marvels,
some of which he claims to have experienced personally. At least the taxonomy
supplied by John Walsh, a Devonshire cunning man, in  has the virtue of
simplicity: [he] saith that ther be .iii. kindes of Feries, white, greene, and
blacke . . . Wherof )he sayth* the blacke Feries be the woorst.Ž
Incidentally,
the question of fairy coloring is its own mares nest. In addition to white, black,
and green )green is sometimes mentioned„as with the green children of
Woolpit„ but it is by no means universal*, we also have gray )in
e Merry
Wives of Windsor
*, red )in an account from 
omas Walsingham*,
and poly-
chrome )as with Tristrams fairy dog Petitcriu*. Perhaps the key to all this is the
innate volatility of fairies: they can be any size )or shape* they wish, and, as in
Petitcrius case, their color is inherently unstable.
No attempt, whether medieval or modern, to impose a logical order on
spontaneous local traditions can ever be totally satisfactory )though those who
still feel themselves in need of such answers can always turn for help to Kath-
arine Briggs or Claude Lecouteux*.
My own solution to this prob lem, how-
ever, is functional: for the purposes of this study I am concerned primarily
with that class of numinous, social, humanoid creatures who were widely be-
lieved to live at the fringes of the human lifeworld and interact intermittently
with human beings.
In this they di"
ered from those solitary creatures who
inhabited the wilderness ) giants and the like* or the social creatures who lived
among humans )the vari ous kinds of house hold spirit*. Of the multitude of
potential terms for these creatures in both Latin and the vernacular, few, if
any, seem to have had a generally agreed and 2 xed meaning, but they were
most commonly referred to as elves in En glish )at least down to the middle
of the 2
fteenth century*
and in French as
e equivalence of these two
terms in learned usage is nicely illustrated by a spell Pur
faies
Ž from a
&\t '(\t  
tals. It is not a matter on which we can properly legislate. Simon Young has
shown convincingly how little agreement there is about the meanings of terms
for fairies collected by folklorists in nineteenth- century Cornwall, concluding
that  there is enormous blurring in lore and very often taxonomic categories
misrepresented the beliefs of a given areaŽ; if this is true of a single well-
documented En glish county in a recent century, what hope can there be of
our reconstructing a coherent fairy taxonomy for the whole of the Eu ro pean
Middle Ages with the far scantier evidence that is available to us? As Young
writes, anyone who studies history has to constantly remind themselves that
those people living hundreds of years ago did not structure their experience
as we do.Ž
Even in the Middle Ages fairy taxonomy seems to have been problematic.
omas of Cantimpr
, for instance, tries to categorize fairies in the 2
nal section
of his mid-thirteenth- century book of moral instruction,
De bonum universale
de apibus
[On the Universal Good of Bees], but the enterprise quickly falls apart.
Turning from his admirable bees, he sets out, under the headings of wasps,
cockroaches, hornets, and beetles [
vespae, blattae, crabrones
, and
], to
describe the depredations of vari ous kinds of demon. Wasp demons, he says,
cause tempests, and cockroach demons cause bad dreams, but when he turns
to what we might call fairies ) under the heading of hornets*, we discover
that these too can cause tempests and bad dreams. Hornet demons, he says,
can be divided into four classes:
neptuni
, who swim in water;
incubi
, who roam
the earth;
dusii
, who live under the earth; and
spiritualia nequitie in celestibus
who inhabit the air. 
is is already an eccentric classi2
cation since for Saint
Augustine )as for most of the medieval commentators who followed him*,
incubi
and
dusii
were clearly one and the same thing.
Moreover, none of
these terms is likely to have been used at the level of popu lar speech, nor is his
classi2
cation likely to have represented any kind of popu lar taxonomy.
Neptuni
is evidently a commonization from the Roman god, and it is just pos si ble
that some such term was in popu lar usage, if only as a folk etymology for the
French
 &\t '(\t 
is attack is not entirely original, for it draws heavi ly on an early
fourteenth- century preachers manual, the
Fasciculus Morum
)which had also
included tournaments and jousts in its list of fairy activities*,
but it will serve
as a useful introduction to the subject of this book: fairyland as a contested site
in the strug gle between the o$
cial and uno$
cial cultures of the Middle Ages.
As this quotation implies, the default position of the clerical elite when it
came to fairyland was one of unrelieved antagonism )though in practice, as
we shall see, not all churchmen were as implacably hostile as our preacher*,
and the o$
cial rec ord is the story of an ever- increasing demonization of
fairies and infernalization of fairyland throughout the course of the Middle
Ages. Vernacular culture on the other hand might make remarkable e"
orts to
adjust its beliefs to the orthodoxies of the church, either consciously engaging
in what Carlo Ginzburg has termed cultural compromise formationŽ
or
unconsciously echoing what Antonio Gramsci would have regarded as the
churchs dominant hegemonic discourse. 
us we should not be surprised to
encounter fairies who swear by the Virgin Mary, who are eager to attend mass,
or who anticipate salvation on Doomsday. 
e history of this aspect of medi-
eval popu lar culture and its systematic suppression is accordingly far from
straightforward, and it is made all the more di$
cult by the nature of the evi-
dence, which overwhelmingly re1
ects the views of the clerical elite. An analy-
sis of the kinds of evidence available to us and suggestions for ways we might
read them will occupy the 2
rst two chapters of this study. Fundamental to
my approach is the assumption that the beliefs of those for whom fairies were
a living presence were sincerely held and that we should do them the courtesy
of taking their beliefs seriously. I will argue that this makes a great di"
erence
to the way we approach the medieval literary genre that has most to tell us
about fairies„ that of the popu lar romance.
e last three chapters will o"
er readings of vari ous aspects of fairy be-
lief, but from the outset it is impor tant that I establish what the reader should
not
expect to 2
nd there. First, I will have nothing to say on the vexed ques-
tion of fairy taxonomy.
Are fairies di"
er
ent from elves? or goblins? or dwarves?
or pucks? or brownies? and how do they relate to French
Introduction
For many pious Christians, as for the inquisitors of Joan of Arc,
this was a distinction without a di"
erence. Fairies were demons,
plain and simple.
„ Carl Sagan,
 e Demon- Haunted World
On Trinity Sunday sometime around the year  a sermon was preached in
Eng land containing an extended denunciation of popu lar superstition.
Palm-
ists, dream readers, pythoners, nigromancers, astrologers, and the makers of
wax e$
gies were all quickly dismissed, and then the preacher turned to those
who believed in fairies:
ere are also others who say that they see women and girls
dancing by night whom they call
elvish folk
and they believe that
these can transform both men and women or, leaving others in
their place, carry them with them to
el and
; all of these are mere
fantasies bequeathed to them by an evil spirit. For when the devil
has won over the soul of such a person to believing such things, he
transforms himself other wise, now into the form of an angel, now a
man, now a woman, now other creatures, now in dances and other
games, and thus by the weak faith of their souls such wretches are
deceived. But those who believe in the aforesaid things, or stub-
bornly defend them, or propagate them, especially when they shall
have learned the truth, are faithless and worse than pagans,
andfour times a year they are cursed by the Lord and his holy
church. . . . 
ey should know that they have forsaken the faith of
Christ, betrayed their baptism, and incurred the anger and enmity
of God.
Elf Queens and Holy Friars
! \t\t\b
Introduction 
Chapter. Believing in Fairies
Chapter. Policing Vernacular Belief
Chapter. Incubi Fairies
Chapter. Living in Fairyland
Postscript 
Notes 
Bibliography 
Index 
Acknowl edgments
e elf- queene, with hir joly compaignye,
Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede.
 is was the olde opinion, as I rede;
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.
But now kan no man se none elves mo,
For now the grete charitee and prayeres
Of lymytours and othere hooly freres,
is maketh that ther ben no fayeryes.
„ Chaucer,
 e Wife of Baths Tale
For Sharon, still my fairy queen
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may be reproduced in any form by any means without
written permission from the publisher.
Published by
University of Pennsylvania Press
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -
www . upenn . edu / pennpress
Printed in the United States of Amer i ca on acid- free paper
         
A Cataloging- in- Publication record is available from
theLibrary of Congress
\b ----
\b\t\n \f \r\b\n \r\b\b
\r
ELF QUEENS
AND HOLY FRIARS
Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church
Richard Firth Green
THE MIDDLE AGES SERIES
Ruth Mazo Karras, Series Editor
Edward Peters, Founding Editor
Elf Queens and Holy Friars

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