2022 Student Research Conference:
35th Annual Student Research Conference

Le Sot Chevalier: Old French Fabliau or Biblical Allegory?


Sophia M. Picard
Dr. Christine Harker, Faculty Mentor

Fabliau, a genre of High Medieval literature, typically follows a narrative pattern: a character transgresses, often carrying out some kind of trickery, and is subsequently punished for it, reinforcing the social hierarchies of the period. Thirteenth-century poet Gautier le Leu’s Le Sot Chevalier (The Stupid Knight) is a self-identified fabliau, yet it does not follow the pattern of the genre. Instead it deals, amongst other things, with flipped gender roles, infantilization of a high-ranking male character, and sodomy. Le Sot Chevalier, at first look, appears to be an anomaly that cannot be reconciled to the genre’s definition, but it can be understood by examining the narrative through the lens of Biblical allegory. At a deeper structural level, the poem’s seemingly contradictory elements contain a complex allegory of Adam’s fall, Christ’s redemption, and the role of women, the heiresses of Eve.

Keywords: Old French, fabliau(x), Biblical allegory, Le Sot Chevalier, Gautier le Leu, inverted gender roles, infantilization, Medieval

Topic(s):English
Medieval Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: 204-1
Location: SUB GEO C
Time: 10:15

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