The use of trial by battle in the work of Sir Thomas Malory
Eynon, Nadine Ruth
In this thesis I will examine the use of trials by battle in the work of Sir Thomas Malory. In Chapter One, I will study the historical practice of judicial combat in order to provide a background against which Malory's fictional battles can be evaluated and, on the basis of this historical information, I will formulate a definition of trial by battle. In Chapter Two, I will apply the definition to the battles in Malory's work which are motivated by a sense of justice. In Chapter Three, I will examine Malory's use of battles, generally, without reference to legal implications. In my last chapter, I will discuss the methods in Malory's work by which justice is determined, concentrating on the method of trial by battle. I will evaluate, as far as it is possible, the extent to which the decisions reached through trial by battle are just. Finally, I will discuss the incident in the last book where Arthur refuses Lancelot and Guenevere a trial by battle. I will examine the implications that this rejection of judicial combat have for the structure of Malory's work as a whole.