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Relics are powerful signifiers of the relationship between humanity and the divine because they allow humans to physically touch a part of a saint’s body or an extension of the saint’s body. This type of symbolism may also be found in the relationship between ladies and knights in Chrétien de Troyes’ Arthurian romances, when a part of the lady’s body (her hair, for example) or an object that once belonged to the lady is touched by the knight. The objects that represent these ladies provide their knights with some form of power at crucial stages in the romances, usually encouraging them to undertake or complete a pilgrimage-like quest. My paper explores the ways in which ladies and their objects are described similarly to saints and their relics, while also contrasting the objectification of the ladies with the agency of saints.
Arthurian romance, cult of saints, relics, objects, materiality, female agency, quest, pilgrimage
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Hayes, Lydia "Objectifying Love: Ladies and Their Tokens, Saints and Their Relics in Chrétien de Troyes." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 56, No. 1 (2020) : 149-171.