Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands
And she says further: “A knight on a stalwart steed, himself clad all in glittering gold, hath to-day borne away the prize for all three days of the jousting. If ye tell the truth to my father, that it was you who jousted so well, then I dare say, surely, he will give you me and all his land. The marriage between yonder young prince and myself should be to-morrow; but here I make a solemn vow, I will never have any man but you! Therefore I pray you with all my heart, go not away, the morn!”
“Nor will I, my sweet lady. I will not go from your sight.”
Happy Medieval Monday! I thought I would share a medieval love story with you for Valentine's Day. Who has heard of Roswall and Lillian? This time, I don't think the answer is "everyone but me." I sincerely hope not, anyway!
It is consistently -- pretty much always -- referred to as a "medieval Scottish chivalric romance", but I'm not sure why. That is, why Scottish? The only reason I can come up with is that the earliest printed version is dated back to Edinburgh in the 1600s. But the story is considered much older than that, likely dating from the fifteenth century. It certainly has lots in common with other chivalric stories of the times.
The story begins with an act of compassion. Prince Roswall frees three prisoners against his father's wishes. At first, the king doesn't know who freed them and vows to hang the man who has done so. When he finds out it was his beloved son, he rushes to come up with a Plan B. He ends up sending the prince to another kingdom with gold and a steward to help him.
First chance, the steward threatens to kill Roswall if he does not hand over his gold and letters of introduction. Poor Roswall does so and enters the Kingdom of Bealm as servant to his servant, who abandons him shortly after.
A woman takes pity on the handsome young man and offers him shelter. He lives with them and attends school with her son. The young prince applies himself diligently and his integrity is so obvious that the King of Bealm's steward takes notice of him. He takes him to the castle, which is where he meets the beautiful Princess Lillian.
Of course, they fall in love.
But Lillian is supposed to marry a prince. As it so happens, it's the sneaky steward turned false prince. Surprise! A tournament is set to celebrate the upcoming wedding.
Roswall goes hunting in the forest and meets a white knight, who lends him his horse and armor so that he can enter the tournament. Roswall carries the day. The next morning, another knight gives him a gray horse and red armour. Roswall wins again. On the third day, he fights dressed in gold and riding a mighty steed.
Lillian doesn't know it's him at first, but she begs her father to allow her to marry Roswall. He refuses, insisting she marry the prince.
The night before the wedding, the knights come to the city and salute the king, queen, and Princess Lillian, but not her betrothed. When asked why they aren't saluting the son of their king, they explain that they don't see him. Upon finding Roswall they identify him and the king asks him (Roswall) for the truth.
As it comes to pass, those three knights are not only his benefactors from the forest. They are the knights he freed from his father's prison.
The evil steward is dealt with and Roswall and Lillian are finally allowed to wed. They rule justly and Roswall rewards all those who were kind to him in his time of need. They have many children and live happily ever after.
What's not to love?
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Happy Medieval Monday, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Week ahead!
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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