Spenser and the Search for Asian Silk
Arthuriana 21.1 (2011)
Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene follows the Arthurian tradition of travel eastward. Because the poem distributes its narrative onto a scene of action that forms part of the Muscovy Company’s activities in Central Asia in the 1560s, The Faerie Queene can be understood as a literary response to a new kind of commercial risk.
The connection between Arthurian romance and travel to the Middle East, which developed into the connections between Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene and English trading expeditions to Muscovy during the 1560s that this article explores, had its origins in earlier romances such as Huon of Bordeaux. That story has a fanciful geography that finds Huon leaving the French city of Bordeaux because King Oberon has promised him all his realm of Fairy.