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Insult and Redress in Cyfraith Hywel Dda and Welsh Arthurian Romance

Insult and Redress in Cyfraith Hywel Dda and Welsh Arthurian Romance

Cichon, Michael

Arthuriana, Vol. 10:3 (2000)

Abstract

This article, treating the laws in their context as well as specific legal references in the Romances, examines the transactional nature of insult and redress as portrayed in medieval Welsh law and literature. The laws contain commentary on hierarchy and behavior, and the narratives show to some extent how the laws worked. Both shed light on the values of the society that produced the literature.

Violence was a fact of life in medieval British society, consistently making its influence felt on every level. Confrontation characterized most social interactions, whether among Welshmen of diverse social strata, among the ethnic Welsh rulers themselves, or between native Welsh people and Anglo- Norman settlers. Faced with a dearth of Welsh historical material on violence in medieval Wales, the researcher must look to other sources, in particular, literary and legal texts.

This study examines the transactional nature of insult and redress in medieval Welsh law and literature in order to understand the expression and interpretation of this unique law through literature as it pertains to a relatively isolated ethnic minority.

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