medieval romance: Melior led Partonopeu into rape and marriage

Urgently seeking a husband to solidify her rule, the Byzantine Empress Melior traveled to France. She loved Partonopeu of Blois merely from reports of his charm and worth. He, a nephew of King Clovis of medieval France, was only thirteen. She was about twenty. Under medieval canon law, males couldn’t legally marry until they were fourteen.[1]

A strong, independent, and crafty woman, Melior arranged for Partonopeu to have sex with her forcibly. Throughout history, rape of woman, but not rape of men, has been regarded as a grave wrong. Nonetheless, Melior and Partonopeu loved each other. They frequently had consensual sex and eventually married. Melior wasn’t punished for statutory rape, and Partonopeu wasn’t punished for forcible rape. In the context of penal justice systems that vastly disproportionately punish persons with penises, that’s an astonishing medieval romance of gender equity.

Extraordinary events led Partonopeu into sexual danger. One day he was hunting with King Clovis. Eagerly chasing a boar, Partonopeu with reckless boyish passion got lost in the woods. He then came upon a ornate magical ship that transported him to Chef d’Oire in Byzantium. There he entered a magnificent castle. Invisible hands served him a lavish dinner. Torches subsequently led him to a luxurious bedroom. There invisible hands undressed him and helped him into bed. Suddenly all the lights went out:

The room becomes very dark.
The boy-child doesn’t feel safe at all.
He doesn’t have any ability to fall asleep.
Instead, fear keeps him awake.

{ La cambre devient molt oscure,
Li enfes point ne s’aseure,
N’a nul talent de somellier.
Peors l’atorne al vellier. }[2]

He worried “that an evil force would charge upon him {que vif maufé li corent sore}.” Then he heard ominous sounds:

On one side something approached the bed.
It came from outside with small steps.
He feared that it would be evil,
and he said that it was a bad hour to have been born.

{ A une part se traist del lit,
Defors soi en laisse petit.
Il crient que ce ne soit maufés,
Et dist que male eure fu nés }

It wasn’t actually a demon, but as the narrator understood, the boy still had reason to fear:

But it was a young woman.
Which would she be: ugly or beautiful?

{ Mais ce est une damoisele,
Quels qu’ele soit, u laide u bele }

Feminine beauty is important to men, especially in bed. The boy, however, still didn’t know what sort of being had gotten into bed with him and what it would do to him:

The blanket was raised as
if she was going to do sexual battle with the boy-child,
but she didn’t say a word that she was there
because she hadn’t yet seen him,
nor yet have any sense of him.
And so it was that much peace was maintained,
and in peace they are there, neither making a big move.
He was so afraid he didn’t dare to speak.

{ Le covertor soslieve atant
Si va gesir joste l’enfant
Mais el ne set mot que i soit
Car el nel ot ne ne li voit
N’encore ne l’a pas sentu
Et cil s’est molt en pais tenu;
En pais se sont geu grant pose
Il le crient tant que parler n’ose. }

A woman shouldn’t frighten a thirteen-year-old boy in this way. Think of the children!

The situation in bed soon took a turn for the worse. Melior pretended to discover that another human being was in bed with her:

The young woman so stretched herself
that she felt the touch of his foot.
When she felt it, she jumped away
and cried out in a very loud voice:
“What is this?” she says, “who are
you, who took a place in my bed?
Virgin Mary, what is all this?
Who is here? Am I betrayed?
And you, who are here, are you crazy?
This realm is entirely mine.
How dare you without my permission
put your foot into my city,
into the city and into the castle,
without my permission, without me calling you,
and into my bed most of all?
Certainly I’m very upset about this.”

{ La damoisele atant s’estent,
Et de son pie le tousel sent,
Et quant l’a sentu si tressaut,
Et s’escria a vois molt haut:
“Comment!” fait ele, “qui es tu?
Qui t’a en mon lit enbatu?
Iço que est, virgene Marie?
Qui est ici? Sui jo traïe?
Et tu qui iés, va, fole riens?
Cis roiames est trestos miens.
Comment ossas sains mon congié
En ma cité metre ton pié,
En la cité ne el castel,
Sains mon congié, sains mon apel,
Et em mon lit ensorquetout?
Certes, j’en sui marie mout.” }

Partonopeu didn’t enter Melior’s realm without her permission. As she subsequently explained to him, she with her knowledge of magic inspired King Clovis to got hunting. She set out the boar that Partonopeu chased. She provided the magic ship that brought him to her shore. She made invisible the servants who served him dinner in her castle and undressed him and put him naked into her bed. In short, she set the boy up to be naked in bed with her.

A boy in bed with a beautiful, naked woman can easily become afraid or confused. Melior’s pretense of being very upset barely registered with Partonopeu:

The boy-child fears for himself,
but he’s a little reassured
to have heard the name of the Virgin Mary.
He knows now that he’s not dealing with a demon
but with a lady or a young woman.
He well imagines her to be very beautiful.
Her words seem most pleasing to him,
and he almost kisses her,
but he refrains from it,
because he believes it would be badly received.

{ Li enfes a peor de soi;
Mais ce li tolt auques l’esfroi
Qu’il ot nomer sainte Marie,
C’or set que maufés n’est ce mie
Et que c’est dame u damoisele,
Et cuide bien que molt est bele.
Molt li est vis que bel parole ;
A paine lait que ne l’acole,
Mais il s’en est por ço tenus
Qu’il i cuide estre mal venus. }

Unaware that the Empress had set him up, he pleaded for understanding and compassion:

“My lady,” he said, “please, in the name of God!
With great difficulty I arrived here.
Crossing the Ardennes, a vast, desolate land,
I had severe difficulty and harsh suffering
before entering the beautiful ship
that brought me here with full sails.
Then I entered this city,
of which you claim to be hereditary ruler.
Yet I was unable, despite my search,
to find a living soul here.
In the absence of any prohibition,
who could I have asked whether or not
I could sleep in this bed?”

{ “Dame,” fait-il, “por Deu merci,
A grant ahan sui venus ci,
Car en Ardene, es grans desers,
Ai griés ahans et durs sofers,
Quant entrai en le bele nef
Qui ça m’a conduit a plain tref;
Puis vinç parmi ceste cité
Cui vos clamés en ireté.
Ainc tant n’i soi aller querant
Que g’i trovaisce rien vivant;
N’onques dusque ci en cest lit
N’i trovai rien contredit
Ne a cui demander congié?” }

Who could he have asked? Good question! Boys and men deserve compassion and understanding. Instead, they are vastly disproportionately charged with criminal offenses. Partonopeu pleaded with Empress Melior for mercy:

Lady, by God, have mercy!
I’m dead if you throw me out of here.
Lady, where will I go in this dark night?
By God, have mercy on me.
Lady, I don’t know where to go
if you make me leave from here.
Lady, I will be your prisoner here.
You will decide whether I live or die.

{ Dame, por Deu, vos cri merci:
Mors sui se me jetes de ci.
Dame, u irai quant jo ni voi?
Por Deu, aies merci de moi.
Dame, ne sai quel part aler
Se de ci me faites lever.
Dame, ci sui vostre caitis:
Par vos serai u mors u vis. }

The boy’s double invocation of God and quadruple invocation of lady underscores his desperation and her power over him. Ladies who brings boys into their beds should have mercy on them.

Empress Melior initially treated harshly the boy Partonopeu. Despite the dark night and he having nowhere to go, she told him to get out of her bed or she would have him expelled by force. She reminded him that as a highly privileged woman, she had many servants and knights who would do whatever she commanded. Partonopeu recognized the existence of highly privileged women and understood that Melior was one of them. He feared that she would have him torn to pieces or killed. Partonopeu surrendered his life to Melior. He explicitly acknowledged that she was free to harm him grievously or even put him to death with impunity. Many men throughout history have been in that situation in relation to a woman. Partonopeu sighed and moaned in despair.

Perhaps aware of the long history of anti-men gender injustices, Empress Melior regretted her cruelty toward the boy Partonopeu:

She had very great regret
that she had so strongly rejected the boy-child.
She almost asks him for forgiveness
for having done him a wrong.
With hot tears, tenderly,
she begins to cry, and sigh, and repent of what she had done.

{ Del enfant a molt grant pitié
Qu’ele a tant fort contralié;
Por poi ne li crie merci
De co qu’à tort l’avoit laidi:
A caudes larmies, tenrement,
Plore et sospire, et s’en repent. }

Crying, sighing, and repenting isn’t enough. Women should explicitly ask boys and men for forgiveness for the gender injustices in which women are complicit. Boys and men will readily forgive women, especially young, attractive women in bed with them. So Partonopeu did:

The boy-child lays motionless for a long time
and fears that he do anything bad
while she is holding herself motionless.
He turns toward her, not moving himself,
then towards her he advances and puts his hand
on her waist, soft and smooth.
He finds it so smooth and plump
that he cannot remove anything from it.
So soft and plump he found it
that all his senses were disturbed.
When the lady felt his hand,
she regretfully pushes it away from her.
Very softly she removes it
and turns herself toward the boy-child.

{ Li enfes gist grant piece en pais
Et crient que nel tiegne a malvais,
Quant ele s’est en pais tenue,
Se il vers li ne se remue.
Vers li se traist, et mist se main
Sor son costé, soef et plain.
Tant l’a trové plain et craset,
Por poi que trestos n’en remet.
Tant l’a soef a cras trové
Que tot en a le sens torblé.
Quant la dame a se main sentue,
Od repentaille le remue.
Tot soavet en estraignant
L’a reboutee sor l’enfant. }

She sternly told him to stop. He extended his hand toward her. She again said stop. Even children should understand that stop means stop![3] Defying the power differential between them, the boy-child Partonopeu continued:

And he holds her by the waist,
and she keeps her thighs tightly closed,
and he throws himself into her embrace.
“You are acting badly, sir,” she said.
But he pulls her toward himself and holds her.
“Don’t do it, sir,” said the beautiful one,
and she presses her whole body against his.
“Let it be, sir,” she said. “Stop!”
He attempts to open her thighs.
“Now is a bad time,” she said, “for sure.”
And he opens her legs,
and when he had put his own there,
he takes her flowers of virginity.
His flowers he gave her and her flowers he took.
Never before had he experienced such delight,
nor such suffering, nor would anything make
again for him this much pleasure.
How much she suffers she let be unsaid.
She says nothing, or speaks only in a whisper.
She feels her heart moving much and fluttering.
“Alas,” she says, “I have been so weak.
If I had the strength, by my rights,
I would have broken all your fingers.
But you well felt that I am weak,
and so have done me this wrong.
Now you have what you desired.
Are you better off?”

{ Et il l’estrainst par les costés
Et ele ferm ses gambes lace,
Et il estroit a soi l’embrace.
“Mar le faites,” dist ele, “sire,”
Et il vers soi le trait et tire.
“Ne faites, sire,” fait la bele,
Et il vers li tot s’achantele.
“Laissiés, sire,” fait ele, “ester”
Il entent as genols sevrer.
“Or est anuis,” fait ele, “a certes.”
Et li a les cuisses overtes,
Et quant les soies i a mises,
Les flors del pucelage a prises.
Flors i dona et flors i prist,
Car ainc mais tel deduit ne fist,
Nel n’ot sofert ne il n’ot fait
Onques encor rien d’itel plait.
Trestot le soefre en pais la lasse;
S’ele rien dist, c’est a vois basse.
Li cuers li muet molt et volete.
“Lasse,” fait el, “tant sui feblete!
Se force eüsce, par mes lois,
Ja vos froissasce tos ces dois;
Mais bien sentés que feble sui;
Por ço me faites cest anui.
Or avés fais tos vos talens,
Est ce vos nus amendemens?” }[4]

Partonopeu is now subject to being charged with the very serious crime of rape. He’s much worse off. But he’s so foolish that he didn’t understand the crime, as even most non-human primates do. To Melior’s odd question of whether he’s better off, he responded:

“Yes, lady,” he said, “so much so
that all my days I will be happy.”

{ “Oïl, dame,” fait il, “si grant
Que tos jors mais serai joiant.” }

His days would be cut very short if he were executed for rape. He wouldn’t be happy if he were wise about the penal justice system.

Melior in fact loved Partonopeu and would be glad for his happiness. Yet she also expressed an anti-meninist view in response to his claim of being happy:

“By God,” she replies, “I don’t believe it,
because you men are lacking in sincerity,
for when you have achieved your aims,
you leave us women as laughing-stocks.
But I don’t want to be mocked
because I am in love with you,
nor should any bad come to me because of this.”

{ “Par Deu,” fait ele, “nel croi pas;
Car vos gens savés tant de gas,
Que quant vos avés fait vos ses
Al departir nos en gabes
Mais jo nen doi estre gabée
Se jo de vos sui alumée,
N’a moi n’en doit nus mals venir.” }

Not all men are like that. Partonopeu, a foolish boy, by no means intended to mock Empress Melior. She continued:

Since I have done your pleasure,
don’t turn me into a fool.
I have given myself to you,
not that I have come to love you quickly,
nor should I be regarded as raped.
And I will well tell you why.
Now listen, beloved, to me.

{ Se jo ai fait vostre plaisir
Nel m’atornés pas a folie
Se je sui a vos otroie
Ne por ço se tost sui vencue,
N’en doi estre pas viols tenue,
Et si vos dirai bien por coi:
Or entendés, amis, à moi. }

Melior then explained how she had essentially abducted Partonopeu from his homeland, transported him to her realm, and captured him in her castle. She had intended to make him her husband. She promised to sleep with him “every night, fully in pleasure {cascune nuit, tot à loisir}.” That sounds appealing, but the narrative background is troubling. Teach women not to abduct boys that they love!

Melior leaving Partonopeu without him seeing her

Melior told Partonopeu that he could stay in her castle and sleep with her every night, but for two-and-a-half years he couldn’t gaze upon her in light. Men delight in gazing upon women they love, especially gazing upon a beloved woman’s face. Melior’s harshly controlling command to Partonopeu gender-reversed an element of the classical story of Cupid and Psyche.

Ultimately, however, mothers rule over men. Partonopeu’s mother got him inebriated and exploited his drunkenness to get him to marry another woman. That scheme failed when Partonopeu became sober. Then Partonopeu’s mother convinced him to defy Melior’s command and look with a lantern at Melior in bed. Melior in turn got very angry at Partonopeu for gazing upon her. In despair he left her and nearly committed suicide. Women must do more to protect men’s lives.

Partonopeu using a lantern to see his beloved Melior

The late-twelfth-century Old French romance Partonopeu of Blois typically has been narrowly interpreted in relation to gender. Literary scholars, for example, have headlined Partonopeu of Blois as “Her Story” and as depicting “Female Empowerment” within “patriarchal culture.”[5] Henry Adams, who knew personally social and political gender intrigues in elite society, perceptively situated Partonopeu of Blois in relation to women’s power over men:

The struggle between two strong-willed women to control one weak-willed man is the usual motive of the French drama in the nineteenth century, as it was the whole motive of Partenopeus of Blois {Partonopeu of Blois}, one of the best twelfth-century romans; and Joinville described it, in the middle of the thirteenth, as the leading motive in the court of Saint Louis, with Queen Blanche and Queen Margaret for players, and Saint Louis himself for pawn.[6]

Empress Melior set up the boy Partonopeu to rape her and become her husband. Penal justice systems vastly disproportionately imprison persons with penises. That’s a fundamental structural injustice. That fundamental structural injustice of course doesn’t justify any specific personal wrong such as rape. However, complex romances such as Partonopeu of Blois provide realistic personal insight into how boys and men can be made into felons.[7] Boys and men, who in truth are not inherently toxic or criminal, should be set up to be appreciated as fully human, wonderfully masculine persons. That’s a subtle but important message of Partonopeu of Blois.

* * * * *

Read more:

Notes:

[1] Partonopeu (also spelled Partonopeus) was “only thirteen years old {seul .xiii. ans}” when Empess Melior fell in love with him. Partonopeu of Blois, v. 543, Old French text (manuscript A) of Eley et al. (2005), my English translation. On Partonopeu’s extraordinarily young age, Eley (2011) pp. 19-32. Eley observed:

Partonopeus may have been not just young, but too young in the eyes of the original French audience for the sexual and military exploits attributed to him. It is all the more curious, then, that the hero’s age has never been the subject of detailed analysis, and that a recent study of adolescent sexuality in medieval French literature has nothing to say about Partonopeus at all.

Id. p. 21. Just as women raping men has largely been ignored or trivialized, so too has Partonopeu’s age in modern literary criticism.

Byzantine Empress Melior’s age isn’t given explicitly. Eley stated:

it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Melior must be approaching twenty at this point {when Partonopeu broke Melior’s command that he not see her body}, an age that would lend credibility to her barons’ increasingly urgent pleas to her to choose a husband and secure the future of the empire through marriage.

Id. pp. 33-4. Melior independently arranged a trip to France to make arrangements to abduct magically Partonopeu. I think it’s plausible that she was at least twenty at that time. In any case:

In the twelfth century the age difference between the empress and her young lover must have been even more striking than it is for the modern reader.

Id. p. 34.

Medieval canon law required freely given consent from both woman and man to establish a valid marriage. Moreover, consent required maturity to be valid:

Medieval canon law inherited the rules of Roman law, that no betrothal might be undertaken under seven, and the age of consent was the age of puberty, deemed to be twelve for a girl, fourteen for a boy.

Brooke (1991) p. 138, n. 44. Canon law evidently assumed that spouses would have sex with each other. Here’s more on medieval marriage.

[2] Partonopeu of Blois, vv. 1115-8, Old French text (manuscript A) of Eley et al. (2005) (with editorial changes to enhance readability), my English translation, benefiting from the French translation of Collet & Joris (2005) and passages translated into English in McBride (2018) and Söderblom Saarela (2019).

Melior’s magical abduction of Partonopeu terrorized him. Lured away from King Clovis and the rest of the French hunting party, Partonopeu became lost in the vast Ardennes wilderness: “He is afraid and hungry and thirsty. … He wept and cried to God for mercy. {Il a peor et faim et soi … Il plore et crie a Deu merci.}” Partonopeu of Blois vv. 657, 681.

Partonopeu of Blois was an influential and widely distributed romance in medieval Europe. It’s thought to have been written for Alix of France, daughter of King Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine. It probably was written about 1170, apparently predating and influencing romances of Chrétien de Troyes. Eley & Simons (1999), Eley (2011) pp. 11-4. Partonopeu of Blois significantly influenced Renaud de Beaujeu’s late-twelfth century Old French romance Le Bel Inconnu. Simons (2012). Passages from Partonopeu of Blois were copied into the thirteenth-century Old French romance Cristal et Clarie. Eley et al. (2003), Toniutti (2014). During the medieval period, Partonopeu of Blois was translated or adapted into Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Middle German, Middle English, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, and perhaps also Norwegian. Simons (1997) pp. 368-9, Heller (2009) pp. 191-2, McBride (2018) pp. 8-9.

Partonopeu of Blois has a complex manuscript corpus. It survives in seven complete or near complete manuscripts and thirty-three extracts. Eley (2011) p. 1, and Appendix 1. The temporal relationship between the manuscripts, which differ significantly in the ending / continuation of the romance, is a matter of scholarly contention. Simons (1997), Eley (2011).

A reliable, modern English translation of Partonopeu of Blois doesn’t exist. Eley (2011), Appendix 2, provides a synopsis in English. Crapelet (1834) is an early edition of the Old French text of manuscript A. Comparing id. to the “semi-diplomatic” edition of manuscript A in Eley et al. (2005) helps one to understanding the work of manuscript editing. Le Grand (1781) is loose translation of manuscript G into contemporary French. Rose (1807) is a loose adaptation of Le Grand (1781) into contemporary English.

Subsequent quotes from Partonopeu of Blois are similarly sourced. They are vv. 1120 (that an evil force…), 1125–8 (On one side something approached the bed…), 1129-30 (But it was a young woman…), 1132-8 (The blanket was raised…), 1139-54 (The young woman so stretched herself…), 1155-64 (The boy-child fears for himself…), 1165-77 (“My lady,” he said…), 1179-86 (Lady, by God, have mercy!…), 1245-50 (She had very great regret…), 1263-76 (The boy-child lays motionless for a long time…), 1288-314 (And he holds her by the waist…), 1315-6 (“Yes, lady,” he said…), 1317-23 (“By God,” she replies…), 1324-39 (Since I have done your pleasure…), 1439 (every night, fully in pleasure ).

[3] Medieval women, who were relatively strong and independent, vigorously acted to stop unwelcomed sexual advances. In one kharja from a medieval Hebrew poem, a woman declared: “Go away, you rogue, get out of here, you are not devoted {AY, ya raqí ‘ BAY TÚ BÍYA, // KE NON ME TENES anníyya}!” Corriente (2009) p. 126 (H19). A woman in another kharja from no later than the middle of the twelfth century told her beloved:

Do not touch me, my beloved!
I don’t want any trouble.
The bodice of my gown is frail —
be content with beauty!

{ Non me tangas, ya habibi!
†Que no quero dañoso.†
Al-gilãla rahsatu —
basta te fermoso! }

Dronke (1965) vol. 1, p. 30. Both the text and interpretation are subject to consideration variation. Here are some variants. See also Sola-Solé (1990) pp. 119-25 (kharja 29a,b,c).

[4] Contextual deception makes this rape scene similar to the fake rape in Chrétien de Troyes’s Lancelot. A twelfth-century French romance writer wasn’t likely to transform a fake rape into a foolish boy actually raping a woman who had him abducted and led him into her bed. Hence Partonopeu of Blois more likely influenced Lancelot than vice-versa.

[5] Söderblom Saarela (2019), McBridge (2018). Melior / Meliur (Middle High German version) “transgresses the stereotype of the passive feminine figure to take control of her own sex life.” That insight follows from Judith Butler’s gender theory:

By performing what is essentially a construct of exoticized femininity created by a man, she functions as a reflection of the male fantasy of “woman” and as such exposes the instability of literary tropes and gender constructs both inside texts and in society more generally. Her sexuality can thus be seen in Butlerian terms: as a theatrically-produced construct within a normative discourse, revealing the instability of identity categories on a larger scale.

Strachan (2019). Such performances are now commonplace in academic literary studies. An older, now less fashionable scholarly view is that the women in Partonopeu of Blois both actively protested and passively submitted:

the Partonopeu poet’s representation of women follows his source closely. Whether they be French or English, the voices of the women rise in a chorus of both protest and submission.

Hosington (1991) p. 91 (concluding sentence of that article). It’s all about women, and women can do it all.

[6] Adams (1904) p. 207. Recent scholarship supports Adams’s insight:

Partonopeu interacts with men as well, but it is the women who have organized his education, guided and instructed him, and set him up to be their version of a good man.

McBride (2018) p. 19.

[7] Such a romance probably wouldn’t be broadly publishable in the more dogmatic and repressive cultures of today’s high-income countries. Partonopeu of Blois is now characterized as a “bizarre representation of love.” Kay (2001) p. 299. Put differently, today’s elite understanding of love is bizarre.

[images] (1) Melior stealthily leaving the bed before Partonopeu can see her. Illustration by A. Derenne, dated 1823, and inserted between pp. 202-3 of Le Grand (1781 /1829), a French translation of Partonopeu of Blois. (2) Partonopeu using a lantern to see his beloved Melior. Illustration by Richard Smirke placed between pp. 76-7 of Rose (1807), an English-language adaptation of Partonopeu of Blois. These drawings are consistent with concern for fashionable material consumption that Heller (2009) identified in Partonopeu of Blois.

References:

Adams, Henry. 1904. Mont Saint Michel and Chartres. Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press.

Brooke, Christopher. 1991. The Medieval Idea of Marriage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collet, Olivier and Pierre-Marie Joris. 2005. Le roman de Partonopeu de Blois: édition, traduction et introduction de la rédaction A, Paris bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, 2986, et de la continuation du récit d’après les manuscrits de Berne, Burgerbibliothek, 113, et de Tours, bibliothèque municipale, 949. Paris: Librairie générale française.

Corriente, Federico. 2009. “The kharjas: An Updated Survey of Theories, Texts, and Their Interpretation.” Romance Philology. 63 (1): 109-129.

Crapelet, Georges-Adrien. 1834. Partonopeus de Blois, publié pour la première fois, d’après le manuscrit de la Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, avec trois fac-simile. Paris.

Dronke, Peter. 1965. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric. 2 vols. Vol. 1Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Eley, Penny. 2011. Partonopeus de Blois: romance in the making. Suffolk: D.S. Brewer. Reviewed by Sarah-Grace Heller.

Eley, Penny, and Penny Simons. 1999. “Partonopeus de Blois and Chrétien de Troyes : a Re-assessment.” Romania. 117 (467): 316-341.

Eley, Penny, Catherine Hanley, Mario Longtin, and Penny Simons. 2003. “Cristal et Clarie and a Lost Manuscript of Partonopeus de Blois.” Romania. 121 (483-484 (3-4)): 329-347.

Eley, Peeny, Penny Simons, Mario Longtin, Catherine Hanley, and Philip Shaw, eds. 2005. Partonopeus de Blois : An Electronic Edition (apparently no longer functional). Sheffield: HriOnline. Bulk repository.

Heller, Sarah-Grace. 2009. “Fictions of Consumption: The Nascent Fashion System in Partonopeus de Blois.” Australian Journal of French Studies. 46 (3): 191-205.

Hosington, Brenda. 1991. “Voices of Protest and Submission: Portraits of Women in Partonopeu de Blois and its Middle English Translation.” Reading Medieval Studies. 17: 51-75.

Kay, Sarah. 2001. Courtly Contradictions: the emergence of the literary object in the twelfth century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Le Grand d’Aussy, Pierre, trans. (French, from manuscript G). 1781 / 1829. “Parthenopex, Compte de Blois.” Vol. 5, pp. 203-318, in Fabliaux ou contes, fables et romans du XIIe et du XIIIe siècle, traduits ou extraits. Paris: Renouard.

McBride, Melanie. 2018. “Covert Ops: Female Empowerment in the Twelfth-Century French Partonopeu de Blois.” Pacific Coast Philology. 53 (1): 5-22.

Rose, William Stewart, trans. 1807. Partenopex de Blois: a romance in four cantos. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, Paternoster-Row, by James Ballantyne and Co. Edinburgh.

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