chapter  6
22 Pages

Violence at King Arthur’s Court: Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Perspectives

In the highly intriguing verse novella, Moriz von Craûn (ca. 1220), the central tournament organized by the protagonist begins rather badly and sheds negative light on the entire world of medieval knighthood and the idea of chivalry. Moriz had been asked by his beloved, Countess of Beamunt, to stage this tournament as a proof of his unwavering love for her. The excessive preparations seem to guarantee a smooth operation as no expenses have been spared, but at the beginning of the tournament the Count of Beamunt, who enjoys the privilege of being the first to joust, accidentally kills his opponent (v. 906). Deeply shocked about this misfortunate event, the count withdraws to his castle, lamenting the tragic outcome. At first, after the count has removed his armor, the entire company of knights and ladies assumes that this would signal the end of the tournament and all festivities, but Moriz appeals to them not to forgo all their enjoyment just because of one dead knight whose soul could be entrusted to Saint Michael (931-32). As soon as Moriz has made this announcement, all participants immediately forget the unfortunate victim and throw themselves into the excitement of the tournament, ignoring the count and his mourning.2