Not Quite One of the Guys: Pantysyllya as Virgin Warrior in Lydgate’s Troy Book
Hennequinn, M. Wendy
Medieval Feminist Forum 34, no. 1 (2002)
In her book Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War, Barbara Ehrenreich tells us, “War is, in fact, one of the most rigidly ‘gendered’ activities known to mankind” (125), Since John Lydgate’s Troy Book focuses on the Trojan War, and his patron King Henry V wished to promote the masculine code of chivalry through the work (Lydgate Prologue 71-83),’ we cannot be surprised that Lydgate’s Troy is a highly gendered world. Male characters in the Troy Book are generally knights (Bornstein 8-9), while female characters, like most women in romances, are excluded from warfare and public speaking and merely observe and grieve over battles (Allaire 36). Predictably, Lydgate’s descriptions of his characters are also rigidly gendered. Lydgate attributes some qualities, such as beauty, wisdom, and worthiness, to both sexes. But he consistently attributes bravery, strength, chivalry, prowess, manhood, and anger only to male characters and generally assigns femininity, fidelity, and chastity to female characters.