The Faerie Queene Summary and Analysis: Book VI, Proem-Canto vi
by Edmund Spenser

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Summary and Analysis: Book VI, Proem-Canto vi

Book VI: “The Legend of S. Calidore or, Of Covrtesie”

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New Characters
Aladine: The son of Aldus who is incautious enough to be seriously wounded while enjoying his Lady’s courtesies.

Aldus: An older, honorable, retired Knight who owns a castle, father of Aladine.

Blandina: A Lady who was with an unworthy Knight, Turpine.

Briana: A proud woman in love with Crudor.

Calepine: A Knight in love with Serena.

Calidore: A brave, courtly Knight who exemplifies courtesy.

Crudor: A self-absorbed Knight who demands Briana provide a garment made of hair and beards before he will yield to her love.

Despetto, Decetto and Defetto: Three enemies of Timias who send the Blatant Beast after him.

Maleffort: Briana’s henchman, who takes a toll of beards and hair.

Matilde: The childless wife of Sir Bruin.

Priscilla: The Lady of a Knight attacked without cause while dallying with her in the forest.

Savage Man: A good, deaf-mute, naked man protected by magic.

Serena: A Lady stolen by the Blatant Beast.

Sir Bruin: A warrior who defeated a giant and now rules the giant’s lands.

Squire: An unfortunate who informs Calidore about a region.

Tristam: A nobleman in exile who Calidore takes as his squire.

Turpine: An unkind Knight who dislikes and targets other Knights.

Proem: Although weary of writing, Spencer is so enamored with Faerie Land and finds such delight in it that he forgets his tiredness to write on. He calls Faerie Land “the sacred noursery / Of vertue,” a combination of heavenly and earthly delights. In that nursery, the fairest flower is that of courtesy, which is the subject of Book VI.

Canto I: Calidore is a Knight who lives in Court and exemplifies courtesy. He is well loved for his courtesy, but now travels on a “hard aduenture.” On the way, he meets Artegall, who explains his latest quest (see Book V). Calidore then tells his own quest, to kill the Blatant Beast who “is a Monster bred of hellishe race” and delights in tormenting Knights and Ladies. The description prompts Artegall to describe the beast accompanying the two hags whom he lately encountered, and Calidore confirms that this is the beast. Calidore hurries off in the direction Artegall had just traveled.

As he rides, Calidore encounters a Squire tied hand and foot to a tree and frees him. The Squire tells of a nearby castle where a toll is charged to pass through the narrow and rocky canyon that allows access to other lands. That toll is the hair of any Lady and the beard of any Knight. The Lady of this strange and cruel castle is Briana, who loves Crudor the Knight, who refuses to yield to her unless she brings him a mantle made of the hair of Ladies and the beards of Knights. Briana has put her henchman, Maleffort, in charge of this task. Maleffort met with this Squire and his Lady, shaved the Squire, bound him to the tree, and set off after his Lady. The Squire was to stay until Maleffort returned. As the Squire finishes the story, he and Calidore hear a woman screaming. They see a woman being pulled along by her hair.

Calidore pursues the unfortunate woman and her captor to the doorway of the castle, where he slays Maleffort. Calidore enters the castle and beats back the men who try to keep him from continuing. Upon entering a main chamber, Briana berates Calidore for killing her steward and her people in such an act of treason, then asks him to justify his unprovoked violence and theft of her castle’s treasures. Calidore encourages her to be courteous, and the Lady responds with disdain. The Lady then calls a Dwarf to take a message to Crudor saying that a Knight has her and her people captive. The next morning Calidore and Crudor battle. Crudor is knocked unconscious, but Calidore leaves him alone until he wakes and the battle resumes. Calidore knocks Crudor into the dirt, but before he can kill him Crudor begs for mercy.

Calidore lays down conditions for Crudor to survive. Crudor must welcome strange Knights and treat them respectfully unless they commit an offense;...

(The entire section is 4,643 words.)