By Cynthia Jeney
Published Online (2010)
Introduction: Than Arthure as a lyon ran unto kynge Cradilment of North Walis and smote hym thorow the lyffte syde, that horse and man felle downe. Than he toke the horse by the reygne and led hym unto Ulphine and seyde, “Have this horse, myne olde frende, for grete nede hast thou of an horse.” Sir Thomas Malory, ‛The Tale of King Arthur’
Sir Thomas Malory takes advantage of the horse, and horsemanship in general, to illustrate the upheavals brought about within his culture, and also within the individual, by violence and warfare. In Malory’s Book of Arms, Andrew Lynch argues that the knights’ battles in the Morte are described “more in the style of a herald’s report on a tournament.” The case is compelling, for even though the knights repeatedly participate in extremely violent and often deadly battles, the narrative voice remains calm, almost impassive, detailing challenges, charges, blows, weaponry, and outcomes. The style is exemplified in the passage above, taken from one of Arthur’s battles for Britain against the amassed kings.