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Heldris de Cornuälle's Roman de Silence and the Feudal Politics of Lineage
Vol. 110, No. 3 (May, 1995), pp. 397-409
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462935
Page Count: 13
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The thirteenth-century French text Le roman de Silence is the story of a count's daughter, Silence, brought up as a boy because the king has prohibited female inheritance. Whereas previous readings emphasize the gender politics of the heroine's success as a male and the explicit thematization of issues of textuality, I focus instead on the work's representation of the feudal institutions of marriage, lineage, and the transmission of property. Under the cover of Silence's cross-dressing and refeminization, the text renegotiates the way bodies mattered in the thirteenth-century imaginary, redefining the function of the medieval nobility as genealogical reproduction rather than military service. While the story of the protagonist's parents euphemizes this politics of lineage, by the end of the tale the king's only recourse is Silence.
PMLA © 1995 Modern Language Association