A knight's legacy

Mandeville and Mandevillian Lore in Early Modern England

A knight's legacy

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8175-0
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: December 2010
  • BIC Category: Literary studies: ancient & classical, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Folklore & Mythology, LITERARY CRITICISM / Medieval, Folklore, Myths & Legends, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: classical, early & medieval, Medieval Literature, Literature, Literature: history & criticism
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture


The so-called Travels of Sir John Mandeville (c. 1356) was one of the most popular books of the late Middle-Ages. Translated into many European languages and widely circulating in both manuscript and printed forms, the pseudo English knight's account had a lasting influence on the voyages of discovery and durably affected Europe's perception of exotic lands and peoples.

The early modern period witnessed the slow erosion of Mandeville's prestige as an authority and the gradual development of new responses to his book. Some still supported the account's general claim to authenticity while questioning details here and there, and some openly denounced it as a hoax. After considering the general issues of edition and reception of Mandeville in an opening section, the volume moves on to explore theological and epistemological concerns in a second section, before tackling literary and dramatic reworkings in a final section.

Examining in detail a diverse range of texts and issues, these essays ultimately bear witness to the complexity of early modern engagements with a late medieval legacy which Mandeville emblematises.


[A Knight's Legacy] 'tackles epistemic shift head-on from the perspectives of bibliography, literary criticism, cultural history, and history of performance'
Studies in English Literature (SELS) 52 (1) Winter 2012.

By tracing the reception and reinvention of Mandeville's Travels across the late medieval and early modern periods, this collection reveals the difficulty of speaking in broad terms about Mandeville as a singular figure, one whose work was uncritically absorbed in a particular era only to be soundly rejected in the next. Indeed, the essays invoke a dominant narrative of epistemological rupture only to undermine it, and, in doing so, they reveal new continuities and discontinuities between the medieval and early modern period. For these reasons, A Knight's Legacy represents an exciting collection that would appeal to anyone seeking to understand the continual reinvention of Mandeville's Travels and, more broadly, the appropriation and adaptation of medieval thought.


Mary Baine Campbell
Part I: Editions and Receptions
1. Mandeville in England: the early years Michael S. Seymour
2. 'Whet-stone leasings of old Maundevile': reading the Travels in early modern England Charles W. R. D. Moseley
3. Mandeville reviviscent: early modern travel tales Kenneth Parker
Part II: Mandevillian Ideologies
4. The four rivers of paradise: Mandeville and the Book of Genesis Leo Carruthers
5. Mandeville On Muhammad: texts, contexts and influence Matthew Dimmock
6. A 'science of dreams': 'the fantastic ethnography' of Sir Walter Ralegh and Baconian experimentalism Line Cottegnies
Part III: Mandevillian Stages
7. Marlowe's Tamburlaine: the well-travelled tyrant and some of his unchecked baggage Richard Hillman
8. Prester John writes back: the legend and its early modern reworkings Ladan Niayesh
9. Stage-Mandevilles: the far east and the limits of representation in the theatre, 1621/2002 Gordon Mcmullan
10. The politics of Mandevillian monsters in Richard Brome's The Antipodes Claire Jowitt

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