The conclusion of Heldris de Cornualle's thirteenth-century verse romance Le Roman de Silence is most conventional. Silence, the title character and heroine, having completed a series of adventures and surmounted certain difficulties, her enemy disposed of, is wed to Ebains, the king of England. If this denouement seems unextraordinary, it is; yet certain features of the tale surely are not. It is only, for example, in the last forty lines of the romance that Silence, the new queen of England, dresses for the first time as a woman. From her birth onward until this passage near the very end of the story, Silence—baptized as the boy Scilentius—has been raised and has lived as a male. Only at the very end does she assume her female identity as Scilentia, her parents having perpetrated this travesty in order to insure for Silence her inheritance, because of King Ebains's command that no property in his realm can be inherited by a woman.



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