Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 1, Canto 12

By Edmund Spenser

Book 1, Canto 12

  • Our narrator tells us that this part of his story is ending and that Una is getting close to the end of her journey.
  • Early that same morning, a watchman sees the dragon fall and die and runs to tell the king and queen what he has seen.
  • The king rushes to see if the watchman is right. Seeing that he is, the whole kingdom begins to rejoice.
  • The king and queen, and many nobles of the court, all proceed down to Redcrosse and bow before him in thanks.
  • There is a great celebration around them, with dancing and music, and the women crown Una with leaves.
  • Many people approach the dead dragon with a mixture of fear and curiosity, and some said that parts of him are still alive so mothers tried to keep their children away from him.
  • Meanwhile, the king talks with Redcrosse, thanks him for his service, and offers gifts.
  • When he sees his daughter, he embraces her and they all head back to the palace in one big, joyful procession.
  • They all share a large feast and afterward ask Redcrosse to tell the story of his adventures.
  • Redcrosse agrees and they all listen with amazement and pity at everything he went through.
  • The king then tells Redcrosse he's suffered much and now it's time for him to relax.
  • Redcrosse, however, can't relax since he's promised the Faerie Queene six more years of service.
  • The king is disappointed, but tells Redcrosse that once those six years are past, he should come back and marry Una and take over his realm.
  • The king calls Una into the hall, who enters looking incredible since she is no longer wearing black and a veil now that the dragon is slain.
  • She's about to speak when she's suddenly interrupted by a messenger who runs into the hall with news.
  • The messenger carries a letter which says that Redcrosse shouldn't marry Una because he has already promised himself to another woman.
  • The king is stunned to hear this and finally asks Redcrosse to explain himself.
  • Redcrosse answers that he was tricked by a witch, Duessa, who was pretending to be someone else and whose magic was just too strong for him.
  • Una too comes forward and vouches for Redcrosse's story, saying that not only is this letter part of her mischief, but that this messenger is actually Archimago in disguise.
  • Sure enough Archimago-as-messenger tries to run, but is captured and thrown into a deep, dark, well-guarded dungeon.
  • Once this is all resolved, the king goes ahead and has his daughter engaged to Redcrosse. Then there is great rejoicing in the whole kingdom.
  • Redcrosse stays with Una for a while, but eventually has to leave to finish serving the Faerie Queene.
  • And so, the narrator tells us that this voyage is ending and that he'll rest awhile before beginning another.