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Book IV, Canto I

May 22, 2011

Note: my copy of the book (the edition linked in the sidebar) uses the notation Book IIII instead of IV. For consistency’s sake, I will use IV.




We learn a bit of Amoret’s backstory – Scudamour had won her in a fight against 20 knights. They had gotten married. At their wedding feast, Busirane brought in the Masque of Love and abducted Amoret amidst the confusion.

Now we have picked up where the first ending of the last book left off. Amoret is nervous about her saviour knight. As with most fair damsels in these stories, she is vulnerable and always afraid of being raped. She doesn’t know that Britomart is female. Britomart does nothing to alleviate her fears, preferring to keep the illusion that she is a man.

They come to a castle whose custom it is that any knight not entering with a lady love must either win himself one, or sleep outside. A knight hanging around claims Amoret for himself and has to joust Britomart for the right to take her. Of course he loses. Britomart feels bad that he might have to sleep outside, so she reveals herself as a lady and offers to be his tickets indoors.

Amoret is relieved. She and Britomart cry to each other all night about their hard love lives. In the morning they ride away and end up coming across two knights and two ladies. The ladies are Duessa (from Book I) and Ate, or Discord. She’s in disguise right now but Spenser describes her as a misshapen, scary old hag whose two halves of her body are constantly at odds with the other. The knights are Blandamour, a foolish and fickle knight, and Paridell from the previous book.

When Blandamour sees Britomart, he urges Paridell to fight for Amoret. Paridell recognizes Britomart and is unwilling to fight her again. Blandamour laughs at him and forfeits his own lady to Paridell in his confidence that he will win Amoret. Britomart unhorses him immediately and he rides off in shame, once he is able to get back on his horse.

Now two other knights approach – Scudamour and Glauce. Blandamour recognizes Scudamour, whom he hates, and asks Paridell to joust for him (since he’s still hurt from the previous encounter). Scudamour wins the contest. Blandamour is angry and accuses him of cheating – Duessa takes Scudamour’s side, but Ate states that she thinks they are all morons because she knows that the lady Amoret is sleeping with a new knight (Britomart).

Scudamour, who does not know Britomart’s gender, is outraged. He almost kills Glauce in his anger but stops himself.

*There is no one named Telamond in this book. Go figure.


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