Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Uses of the supernatural in the Middle Welsh Chwedyl Iarlles y Ffynnawn

Isabelle Valade, Luciana Cordo Russo, Lee Raye


This paper examines supernatural episodes in the story of the Knight of the Lion. The story has closely related versions in French (Yvain, ou le Chevalier au Lion) and in Welsh (Owein: Chwedyl Iarlles y Ffynnawn), which allow for analysis and comparison. Even without assuming which author wrote first, we can still study how each text was adapted differently for audiences in Wales and France. This essay finds eleven episodes across both texts (eight in Yvain and nine in Owein). We categorise the supernatural in these episodes as mirabilia, magicus or miraculosus, after Le Goff, Kieckhefer and Sweeney. Our final analysis shows that miraculosus dominates in the French version, presumably due to a Christianising urge of Chrétien de Troyes which emphasises the agency of God in the text. This is not the case in the Welsh version where mirabilis episodes dominate, and the supernatural elements are kept separate from the religious aspects of the text. This analysis suggests that Welsh audiences were more comfortable with secular episodes of the supernatural than French audiences.

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