Foreigners at Court

An analysis of the attitude towards foreigners and strangers in the books “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” in the courts of King Hrothgar and King Arthur.

This paper discusses how masterpieces of English Medieval literature help us understand the relationship between people and standards of behavior that were considered proper and ethical all those years ago. It shows how in particular from the books “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” we can learn how foreigners were accepted and of the customs at the courts by analysis of the arrival Beowulf and the Green Knight at the courts of Kings Hrothgar and Arthur.
“It is worth noticing that Beowulf did not reveal his name to the guard. Obviously at this point the information about his”birth and breeding” is much more important than his name. After this “passport control” Beowulf with his band are brought to the king’s herald who in his turn organized them a meeting with king Hrothgar. All these precautions indicate order, hierarchy and subordination at Hrothgar’s kingdom and court. At the court of King Arthur (as it is described in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) the situation is quite opposite. The Green Knight appeared all of a sudden in the middle of the celebration of the Christmas in Camelot.”