Once again, the super-powered Arthur needs to be separated from the normie trash he's been following around so they can do something in the last Canto. In this case he needs to go and save Belgium in an even-more-allegorical part of this highly allegorical poem in which too little happens without much interest and takes a long time doing it.
The opening verses are perhaps notable in their hypocrisy;
"Some Clarkes doe doubt in their devicefull art,
Whether this heavenly thing, whereof I treat,
To weeten Mercie, be of Justice part,
Or drawne forth from her by divine extreate.
This well I wote, that sure she is as great,
And meriteth to have as high a place,
Sith in the'Almighties everlasting seat
She first was bred, and borne of heavenly race;
From thence pour'd down on men, by influence of grace.
For if that Vertue be of so great might,
Which from just verdict will for nothing start,
But to preserve inviolated right,
Oft spilles the principall, to save the part;
So much more then is that of powre and art,
That seekes to save the subject of her skill,
Yet never doth from doome of right depart:
And it is greater prayse to save, then spill,
And better to reforme, then to cut off the ill."
This in the least-merciful of all Books of the Faerie Queene, defined largely by the murder and mutilation of women by a fucking robot.
Though I will give props for "devicefull art".
Anyway, the rest of this Canto is about an English intervention in the Low Countries.
Some princes turn up. Their mother Belge is oppressed by the Seneshall of Grantorto. Arthor goes to find her living in a bog. They go to the main city where the baddy has built a big castle and set up an idol to false gods with a Rancor under it. Arthur fights the main baddy and kills him in two verses. Three more guys come at him as one and he kills them. Problem solves, Belge restored except I think he still has to fight he Rancor next Canto.
|Just enjoy this attractive Walter Crane deal|
It's so predictable, tiresome, reductive and boring that, even though it is long, the notes at the back are shorter and more interesting so I will give you those instead;
7 Belgae: The Belge Episode (10.7-11.35) treats the oppression of the Low Countries by Spain. Belge's seventeen 'sonnes' are the seventeen provinces which comprised the Low Countries. In 1580 five of the provinces threw off their allegiance to Phillip II (see stanza 8.1-2) and in 1584 offered Elizabeth the sovereignty, which she refused. In 1585 she sent Leicester and an army of seven thousand to id the provinces. Although the expedition arrived too late to save the besieged city of Antwerp, the provinces were overjoyed with Leicester, to whom they offered the governorship, which he accepted. His acceptance infuriated Elizabeth, who recalled him. When he returned to the Low Countries, the effect of British intervention had been dissipated, although some victories against Spanish oppression had been achieved. Most notable was the battle of Zutphen, in which Sir Philip Sidney was mortally wounded. Spenser models some details of this episode on Orlando's rescue of Olimpia in Holland (OF 9.17 FF).
8-10 fell Tyrant: Gerioneo, with his triple body, represents Phillip II's power, which controlled Spain, Portugal and the Low Countries. The name is derived from Geryon, a monster mentioned in Aen 7.662 and Natalia Comes, 7.1. For other references see Var_., p. 250. Milton, following Spenser, makes the association of Geryon with Spain (PL II.410-11). As one of his twelve labours Hercules had to steal Geryon's cattle, guarded by his herdsman Eurytion and the two-headed dog Orthrus, whose parentage Spenser derived from Hesiod, Theogony, 306-9 or Silius Italicus, 13.845. Spenser makes Echidna the mother of the Blatant Beast (VI.6.9.9).
23 4 cities sackt: the Duke of Alva, Philip II's governor, had ordered any city that would not support a garrison of Spanish troops to be sacked and every inhabitant killed (1572). See Gough, p. 297.
25 1 Citie farre vp land: probably the besieged Antwerp that Leicester came too late to rescue. According to Gough, Antwerp was the richest city in Europe at the time.
25 6 Shut vp her hauen: the Duke of Alva built a bridge across the Scheldt river to keep supplies from Antwerp.
27 2 inquisition: suppression. The word bears some of the weight of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, the heresy-hunting court introduced into the Low Countries by Charles V and enforced by his son Phillip II. In 1568 the Inquisition condemned to death all the inhabitants except for a few, specifically named.
28 The description of Gerioneo's chapel and altar is Spenser's depiction of the Roman Catholic Mass, in which the central part of the liturgy is still called the 'sacrifice' (l.6), the memorial re-enactment of Christ's Last Supper (Matthew 26.26-8). Protestants regarded the re-enactment as a symbolic memorial, while Roman Catholics saw it as an actual renewal of Christ's sacrifice, the wine and the bread becoming the body and blood of Christ. The theological point was a primary source of dissension amongst Protestants and Catholics, who sacrificed both flesh and blood in support of one side or the other of the controversy.
28 9 agrize: horrify.