Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
How we cite our quotes:
Then they fitted metal shoes upon the knight’s feet,
Clasped his legs in steel with elegant greaves
With knee-pieces attached to them, highly polished
And fastened to his knees with knots of gold.
Next fine cuisses neatly enclosed
His thick muscular thighs, with thongs attached,
And the linked-mail shirts made of bright steel rings
Covered that and his beautiful clothes.
(574 - 581)
This passage details how Gawain gets all decked out in the gear of a proper knight. The comparable richness of his gear with the Green Knight’s continues, but unlike that man, Gawain wears real armor, signifying that he plans to do battle at some time during his journey.
By then Gringolet was ready, fitted with a saddle
That splendidly shone with many gold fringes,
Newly studded all over for that special purpose;
The bridle striped all along, and trimmed with bright gold;
The adornment of the trapping and the fine saddle-skirts,
The crupper and the horse-cloth matched the saddle-bows,
All covered with gold studs on a background of red,
So that the whole glittered and shone like the sun.
(597 - 604)
In medieval romance, a knight’s horse is representative of his character. The finer the horse, the finer the knight. Gringolet’s shining gold-adorned tack and saddle indicate the richness and rarity of this knight just as Guinevere’s beauty indicates the prestige of the man to whom she is married.
Then Gawain seizes his helmet and kisses it quickly,
That was strongly stapled and padded inside.
It stood high on his head, fastened at the back
With a shining silk band over the mailed neck-guard,
Embroidered and studded with the finest gems
On a broad border of silk with birds covering the seams -
Popinjays depicted between periwinkles,
Turtledoves and true-love flowers embroidered so thick
As if many women had worked on it seven years
Like the Green Knight’s saddle-cloth, the silk band of Gawain’s neck-guard is embroidered with pictures of birds. But the narrator adds the important detail that his embroidery-work includes turtledoves and true-love flowers, perhaps representing Gawain’s reputation as a great lover. The narrative is not subtle about touting the richness of this work, suggesting that such detailed embroidery would take seven years for women working together on it to complete.