NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Maid with Little Sleeves

Maiden with the Small Sleeves

D.D.R. Owen calls Tibaut’s younger daughter the Maiden with the Small Sleeves; I find Cline’s Maid with Little Sleeves more mellifluous, even outside the verse translation.

Whichever adjective is chosen, this little maid’s sleeves were so tight that they looked painted on. While this may have been a fashionable affectation, I cannot help but wonder if it might not mean that the damsel was having problems outgrowing her clothes: she strikes me as one of Chrétien’s youngest creations, if not the youngest. While possibly hovering on womanhood, she could equally well be seen as under ten.

I doubt that she was completely guiltless in the obvious sibling rivalry with her older sister, but Garin’s daughters loved the little maid well, which argues in favor of her amiability. It could have been her extreme youth that finally won Gawaine to break his own resolve and fight as her champion.

After winning the second day’s tourney for her, he made her the same promise he made so many a more mature fair one, vowing to be ever ready to drop any other business and hurry to her call for assistance. She replied by siezing his foot and kissing it – an unusual geasture, which she explained by saying she wanted to make sure he would always remember her face wherever he went.

I like to think that had Chrétien finished the story, we would have seen much more of the Maid with Little Sleeves.

For the Maid’s story, see under
Garin | The Legend of King Arthur
Meliant of Liz | The Legend of King Arthur
Tibaut of Tintagil | The Legend of King Arthur
Tibaut’s Elder Daughter | The Legend of King Arthur