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Merry Married Brothers: Wedded Friendship, Lovers’ Language and Male Matrimonials in Two Middle English Romances

Merry Married Brothers: Wedded Friendship, Lovers’ Language and Male Matrimonials in Two Middle English Romances

Ford, John C.

Medieval Forum Vol. 3 (2003)

Abstract

Both Athelston and Amis and Amiloun show idealized same-sex friendship through similar guises. In each, friendships are cemented through troth-plights that approach marriage vows in complexity and wording. In each, some character’s downfall is conceived due to jealousy of love or friendship with another. In each, that character’s doomed fate is overcome by the honesty of a loyal friend. There is a constant parallel in these tales between the politics of marriage and friendship. Friendship is ceremoniously consecrated, requires exclusive fidelity, and is destroyed by violation of its strictures. Here it is friendship, as opposed to warfare, religion or love, that leads to crisis and resolution. Through such a portrayal, these romances exemplify the courtly idealization of same-sex friendship.

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