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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

John Bourchier, Lord Berners, stands at the boundary between the medieval and early modern, his compositions hovering at their nebulous threshold. While it is recognized that Arthur of Little Britain (1560?) and Huon of Bourdeaux (c.1515) are written in the tradition of the medieval chivalric romance and that Castle of Love (1548?) reflects new, humanist trends in the genre, it is less frequently observed that these two strands of romance were both avidly read, reprinted, and adapted throughout the Tudor period. Readers looked to romance for entertainment, education, and advice. Despised and feared by moralists, it provided children, merchants, gentlemen, women, and nobles with models of exemplary and daring behaviour, rhetorical and chivalric prowess, and political theory. Straining against the tide of continued and widespread moral condemnation, chivalric and humanist romance fiction remained popular with male and female readers across the social spectrum. In order to illuminate the dominance of the romance throughout the period, this article provides an overview of sixteenth-century romance production, dissemination, and readership. It takes a close look at Lord Berners, whose literary output reflects the evolution, enduring popularity, and continued relevance of the genre through the Tudor period and beyond.

Keywords: John Bourchier, romance fiction, Tudor period, romance production, readership

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