Rena Christensen and The Red Cross Knight

I met a woman who looked like Rena. I asked about her ancestry, and she said her maiden name was Christensen, and she was Danish. She may be related to my muse who I saved by the sea. I am her Saint George, a Knight who carried a Red Cross.

Is the truth be known, we were nerds in school.






Dear Ren recite Samuel Daniel’s ‘Complaint of Fair Rosamond’ on a British stage. In researching the Rosamond family name I came to gaze upon a original copy of Daniel’s poem at the Knight Library.

It has come to light that Daniel’s sister, Rosa Daniel was the Muse for the English poet, Edmund Spenser, who may have changed the name Rosa, to, Roselinde. Edmund and Samuel were good friends. The question now, is, was Rosa the Muse for her brother? Daniel and Rosa had a gifted brother who was smitten by a Muse.

Samuel also put to prose the history of the War of the Roses. There is a lot of interest in this rosy war at the moment due to the Game of Thrones. To see a woman come on stage and recite this history in old English (if you prefer) would be a work of art, especially when you look at Rosamond’s influence on the Plantagenets. You can literally take command of the Stage of History and revive the work of a contemporary of Shakespeare that most people never heard of.

Samuel Daniel, poet and playwright, was almost Shakespeare’s exact contemporary. Born only two years earlier than Shakespeare he survived him by just three.  In 1592 Daniel issued a collection of his sonnets under the title Delia.  This collection included one entitled “The Complaint of Rosamond” echoes of which have been found in Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Romeo and Juliet. The year following he wrote a play, The Tragedie of Cleopatra, and Shakespeare’s Cleopatra appears to be more closely modeled on Daniel’s than Plutarch’s.

By 1595, however, Daniel turned to writing history and published the first four books of Civil Wars, his account of contests between the houses of York and Lancaster, which was surely among Shakespeare’s sources for Henry IV.

I have often heard,
Fair Rosalind of divers foully blam’d,
For being to that swain too cruel hard;
But who can tell what cause had that fair maid
To use him so, that loved her so well?
Or who with blame can justly her upbraid,
For loving not; for who can love compel?
And (sooth to say) it is full handy thing
Rashly to censure creatures so divine;
For demi-gods they be; and first did spring
From heaven, though graft in frailness feminine.

Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)
from Delia.
Sonnet XLV.
Care-charmer sleep, son of the Sable night,
Brother to death, in silent darkness born:
Relieve my languish, and restore the light,
With dark forgetting of my cares return.
And let the day be time enough to mourn,
The shipwreck of my ill-adventured youth:
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn,
Without the torment of the night’s untruth.
Cease dreams, th’imagery of our day desires,
To model forth the passions of the morrow:
Never let rising Sun approve you liars,
To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow.
Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain;
And never wake, to feel the day’s disdain.

Edmund Spenser (/ˈspɛnsə/; c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and is considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.

Daniel was born near Taunton in Somerset, the son of a music-master. He was the brother of lutenist and composer John Danyel. Their sister Rosa was Edmund Spenser’s model for Rosalind in his The Shepherd’s Calendar; she eventually married John Florio. In 1579, Daniel was admitted to Magdalen Hall (now known as Hertford College) at Oxford University, where he remained for about three years and afterwards devoted himself to the study of poetry and philosophy. A “Samuel Daniel” is recorded in 1586 as being the servant of Edward Stafford, the Baron of Stafford and the English ambassador in France. This is probably the same person as the poet.  

Edmund Spenser was born in London in 1552, and was the son of a poor clothworker or tailor. He went to school at the Merchant Taylors’ School, which had then been newly founded. That his father was very poor we know, for Edmund Spenser’s name appears among “certain poor scholars of the schools about London” who received money and clothes from a fund left by a rich man to help poor children at school.

When he was about seventeen Edmund went to Cambridge, receiving for his journey a sum of ten shillings from the fund from which he had already received help at school. He entered college as a sizar, that is, in return for doing the work of a servant he received free board and lodging in his college. A sizar’s life was not always a happy one, for many of the other scholars or gentlemen commoners looked down upon them because of their poverty. And this poverty they could not hide, for the sizars were obliged to wear a different cap and gown from that of the gentlemen commoners.

But of how Spenser fared at college we know nothing, except that he was often ill and that he made two lifelong friends. That he loved his university, however, we learn [249] from his poems, when he tenderly speaks of “my mother Cambridge.” When he left college Spenser was twenty-three. He was poor and, it would seem, ill, so he did not return to London, but went to live with relatives in the country in Lancashire. And there about “the wasteful woods and forest wide” he wandered, gathering new life and strength, taking all a poet’s joy in the beauty and the freedom of a country life, “for ylike to me was liberty and life,” he says. And here among the pleasant woods he met a fair lady named Rosalind, “the widow’s daughter of the glen.”

Who Rosalind really was no one knows. She would never have been heard of had not Spenser taken her for his lady and made songs to her. Spenser’s love for Rosalind was, however, more real than the fashionable poet’s passion. He truly loved Rosalind, but she did not love him, and she soon married some one else. Then all his joy in the summer and the sunshine was made dark.

“Thus is my summer worn away and wasted,

Thus is my harvest hastened all too rathe;

The ear that budded fair is burnt and blasted,

And all my hopéd gain it turned to scathe:

Of all the seed, that in my youth was sown,

Was naught but brakes and brambles to be mown.”

At twenty-four life seemed ended, for “Love is a cureless sorrow.”

“Winter is come, that blows the baleful breath,

And after Winter cometh timely death.”

And now, when he was feeling miserable, lonely, desolate an old college friend wrote to him begging him to come to London. Spenser went, and through his friend he came to [250] know Sir Philip Sidney, a true gentleman and a poet like himself, who in turn made him known to the great Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth’s favorite.

Spenser thought his heart had been broken and that his life was done. But hearts do not break easily. Life is not done at twenty-four. After a time Spenser found that there was still much to live for. The great Earl became the poet’s friend and patron, and gave him a post as secretary in his house. For in those days no man could live by writing alone. Poetry was still a graceful toy for the rich. If a poor man wished to toy with it, he must either starve or find a rich friend to be his patron, to give him work to do that would leave him time to write also. Such a friend Spenser found in Leicester. In the Earl’s house the poor tailor’s son met many of the greatest men of the court of Queen Elizabeth. On the Earl’s business he went to Ireland and to the Continent, seeing new sights, meeting the men and women of the great world, so that a new and brilliant life seemed opening for him.

Yet when, a few years later, Spenser published his first great poem, it did not tell of courts or courtiers, but of simple country sights and sounds. This book is called the Shepherd’s Calendar, as it contains twelve poems, one for every month of the year.

In it Spenser sings of his fair lost lady Rosalind, and he himself appears under the name of Colin Clout. The name is taken, as you will remember, from John Skelton’s poem.

Spenser called his poems Aeclogues, from a Greek word meaning Goatherds’ Tales, “Though indeed few goatherds have to do herein.” He dedicated them to Sir Philip Sidney as “the president of noblesse and of chivalrie.”

“Go, little book: Thy self present,

As child whose parent is unkent,

To him that is the president

Of Noblesse and of Chivalrie;


And if that Envy bark at thee,

As sure it will, for succour flee

Under the shadow of his wing;

And, asked who thee forth did bring;

A shepherd’s swain, say, did thee sing,

All as his straying flock he fed;

And when his honour hath thee read

Crave pardon for my hardyhood.

But, if that any ask thy name,

Say, ‘thou wert basebegot with blame.’

For thy thereof thou takest shame,

And, when thou art past jeopardy,

Come tell me what was said of mee,

And I will send more after thee.”

The Shepherd’s Calendar  made the new poet famous. Spenser was advanced at court, and soon after went to Ireland in the train of the Lord-Deputy as Secretary of State. At that time Ireland was filled with storm and anger, with revolt against English rule, with strife among the Irish nobles themselves. Spain also was eagerly looking to Ireland as a point from which to strike at England. War, misery, poverty were abroad in all the land. Yet amid the horrid sights and sounds of battle Spenser found time to write.

After eight years spent in the north of Ireland, Spenser was given a post which took him south. His new home was the old castle of Kilcolman in Cork. It was surrounded by fair wooded country, but to Spenser it seemed a desert. He had gone to Ireland as to exile, hoping that it was merely a stepping-stone to some great appointment in England, whither he longed to return. Now after eight years he found himself still in exile. He had no love for Ireland, and felt himself lonely and forsaken there. But soon there came another great Elizabethan to share his loneliness. This was Sir Walter Raleigh, who, being out of favor with his Queen, took refuge in his Irish estates until her anger should pass.

[252] The two great men, thus alone among the wild Irish, made friends, and they had many a talk together. There within the gray stone walls of the old ivy-covered castle Spenser read the first part of his book, the Faery Queen, to Raleigh. Spenser had long been at work upon this great poem. It was divided into parts, and each part was called a book. Three books were now finished, and Raleigh, loud in his praises of them, persuaded the poet to bring them over to England to have them published.

Spenser read the first part of his book, “The Faery Queen” to Raleigh.

The plaintive and re-creative poems are each devoted to presenting Colin Clout in his double character of lover and poet, whereas the moral poems are mixed with mocking bitterness, which moves Colin from a dramatic personae to a more homely style. While the January pastoral tells of the unhappy love of Colin for Rosalind, the springtime of April calls for a song in praise of Elizabeth. In May, the shepherds, who are rival pastors of the Reformation, end their sermons with an animal fable. In summer, they discourse on Puritan theology. October brings them to contemplate the trials and disappointments of a poet, and the series ends with a parable comparing life to the four seasons of the year.

The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. Books I to III were first published in 1590, and then republished in 1596 together with books IV to VI. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it is one of the longest poems in the English language and the origin of a verse form that came to be known as Spenserian stanza.[1] On a literal level, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several virtues, though it is primarily an allegorical work, and can be read on several levels of allegory, including as praise (or, later, criticism) of Queen Elizabeth I. In Spenser’s “Letter of the Authors” he states that the entire epic poem is “cloudily enwrapped in Allegorical devises,” and that the aim of publishing The Faerie Queene was to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline”.[2]

The Faerie Queene found such favor with Elizabeth I that Spenser was granted a pension for life amounting to £50 a year, though there is no evidence that Elizabeth read any of the poem. This royal patronage helped the poem to such a level of success that it became Spenser’s defining work.[3]

  • Acrasia, seductress of knights. Guyon destroys her Bower of Bliss at the end of Book 2. Similar characters in other epics: Circe (Homer‘s Odyssey), Alcina (Ariosto), Armida (Tasso), or the fairy woman from Keats’s poem “La Belle Dame sans Merci“.

Book I is centered on the virtue of Holiness as embodied in the Redcross Knight. He and his lady Una travel together as he fights the dragon Errour, then separate as the wizard Archimago tricks the Redcross Knight in a dream to think that Una is unchaste. After he leaves, the Redcross Knight meets Duessa, who feigns distress in order to entrap him. Duessa leads the Redcross Knight to captivity by the giant Orgoglio. Meanwhile, Una overcomes peril, meets Arthur, and finally finds the Redcross Knight and rescues him from his capture, from Duessa, and from Despair. Una and Arthur help the Redcross Knight recover in the House of Holiness, with the House’s ruler Caelia and her three daughters joining them; there the Redcross Knight sees a vision of his future. He then returns Una to her parents’ castle and rescues them from a dragon, and the two are betrothed after resisting Archimago one last time.

Book II is centred on the virtue of Temperance as embodied in Sir Guyon, who is tempted by the fleeing Archimago into nearly attacking the Redcross Knight. Guyon discovers a woman killing herself out of grief for having her lover tempted and bewitched by the witch Acrasia and killed. Guyon swears a vow to avenge them and protect their child. Guyon on his quest starts and stops fighting several evil, rash, or tricked knights and meets Arthur. Finally, they come to Acrasia’s Island and the Bower of Bliss, where Guyon resists temptations to violence, idleness, and lust. Guyon captures Acrasia in a net, destroys the Bower, and rescues those imprisoned there.


  • Britomart, a female knight, the embodiment and champion of Chastity. She is young and beautiful, and falls in love with Artegal upon first seeing his face in her father’s magic mirror. Though there is no interaction between them, she travels to find him again, dressed as a knight and accompanied by her nurse, Glauce. Britomart carries an enchanted spear that allows her to defeat every knight she encounters, until she loses to a knight who turns out to be her beloved Artegal. (Parallel figure in Ariosto: Bradamante.) Britomart is one of the most important knights in the story. She searches the world, including a pilgrimage to the shrine of Isis, and a visit with Merlin the magician. She rescues Artegal and several other knights, from the evil slave-mistress Radigund. Furthermore, Britomart accepts Amoret at a tournament, refusing the false Florimell.
  • Chrysogonee, mother of Belphoebe and her twin Amoretta. She hides in the forest and, becoming tired, falls asleep on a bank, where she is impregnated by sunbeams and gives birth to twins. The goddesses Venus and Diana find the newborn twins and take them: Venus takes Amoretta and raises her in the Garden of Adonis, and Diana takes Belphoebe.
  • The Redcross Knight, hero of Book I. Introduced in the first canto of the poem, he bears the emblem of Saint George, patron saint of England; a red cross on a white background is still the flag of England. The Redcross Knight is declared the real Saint George in Canto X. He also learns that he is of English ancestry, having been stolen by a Fay and raised in Faerieland. In the climactic battle of Book I, Redcross slays the dragon that has laid waste to Eden. He marries Una at the end of Book I, but brief appearances in Books II and III show him still questing through the world.

The Faerie Queene was written during the Reformation, a time of religious and political controversy. After taking the throne following the death of her half-sister Mary, Elizabeth changed the official religion of the nation to Protestantism.[6] The plot of book one is similar to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which was about the persecution of the Protestants and how Catholic rule was unjust.[7] Spenser includes the controversy of Elizabethan church reform within the epic. Gloriana has godly English knights destroy Catholic continental power in Books I and V.[8] Spenser also endows many of his villains with “the worst of what Protestants considered a superstitious Catholic reliance on deceptive images”.[9]

The legendary Robin Hood, initially under the name of Locksley, is also a character in the story, as are his “merry men”. The character that Scott gave to Robin Hood in Ivanhoe helped shape the modern notion of this figure as a cheery noble outlaw.

Other major characters include Ivanhoe’s two love interests, Rebecca, a Jewish woman, and the Lady Rowena; Ivanhoe’s intractable father, Cedric, one of the few remaining Saxon lords; various Knights Templar, most notable of whom is Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Ivanhoe’s main rival; a number of clergymen; the loyal serfs: Gurth the swineherd and the jester Wamba, whose observations punctuate much of the action; and the Jewish moneylender, Isaac of York, who is equally passionate about his people and his beautiful daughter, Rebecca. The book was written and published during a period of increasing struggle for the emancipation of the Jews in England, and there are frequent references to injustices against them.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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