Hospitality and Status: Social Intercourse in Middle High German Arthurian Romance and Courtly Narrative
Arthuriana 20.3 (2010)
Within medieval German Arthurian romance and courtly narrative leading nobles actively cultivate hospitality and jealously guard their roles within this fundamental social institution. In these texts ideas about hospitality center on notions of power and status, and hospitality becomes an important expression of the implicit rules governing social discourse.
In Konrad von Stoffeln’s late thirteenth-century Arthurian romance Gauriel von Muntabel, in which King Arthur hosts the wedding feast of the eponymous hero and his fairy-queen mistress, we are informed ‘. . . in welher zer / zesamene kâmen disiu her / beidenthalben ân allen haz’ [ . . . how these two courts met each other, sparing no expense, and with mutual good feeling (ll. 5601–03)].1 The text continues, however, that ‘nu wolde ouch diu Künigîn / dâ mit ir selber koste sîn’ [the (fairy) queen wanted to bring her own provisions (ll. 5605–06)]. The author then adds, ‘daz was dem künige ungemach’ [that did not entirely please the king (l. 5607)]. Why does Konrad feel a need to point out the king’s consternation? And, for that matter, what could explain Arthur’s annoyance?