The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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Shields Symbol Icon

In The Faerie Queene, shields are more than just a piece of combat equipment: they represent a knight’s identity. Perhaps the most famous shield in the book is the one that belongs to the Redcross Knight and gives him his name. The shield has a red emblem on it in the shape of a Christian cross, and it is enchanted to protect the Redcross Knight from danger. Symbolically, this suggests that Redcross’s faith is what protects him from danger—which is appropriate since he is the character who embodies the virtue of holiness. In general, shields seem to be associated with heroic characters—Arthegall also has a recognizable shield that helps him defeat the villain Grantorto when his ax gets stuck in the shield. This could reflect how good knights, like shields, are protectors. Nevertheless, a few evil characters do have prominent shields, perhaps most notably Pyrochles, whose shield reads “Burnt Do I Burn.” These evil characters with shields don’t necessarily contradict the positive image of shields—they simply show how sometimes evil knights adopt characteristics of good knights, even if they can only offer a pale imitation.

Shields Quotes in The Faerie Queene

The The Faerie Queene quotes below all refer to the symbol of Shields. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
).
Book I: Canto I Quotes

A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Y clad in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,
The cruel markes of many a bloudy fielde;

[…]

But on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose weete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead as living ever him ador’d:
Upon his shield the like was also scor’d

Related Characters: Redcross Knight
Related Symbols: Shields
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Book II: Canto IV Quotes

And round the wreath, this word was writ,
Burnt I do burne. Right well beseemed it,
To be the shield of some redoubted knight

Related Symbols: Shields
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Faerie Queene LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Faerie Queene PDF

Shields Symbol Timeline in The Faerie Queene

The timeline below shows where the symbol Shields appears in The Faerie Queene. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book I: Canto I
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...He is a faithful knight who wears a red cross on his chest and his shield (and so he is called the Redcross Knight). He has been sent on a quest... (full context)
Book I: Canto II
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...famous British dragon-killing saint), happens to run into an armed Saracen (a Muslim) The Saracen’s shield contains the words Sans foy (“without faith”). Next to Sansfoy the Saracen is a lady... (full context)
Book I: Canto III
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...are approached by a fierce, sweaty rider with Sans loy written in red on his shield. The sight of the Redcross Knight causes the rider Sansloy to burn even hotter with... (full context)
Book I: Canto IV
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...the palace, a knight is waiting there with Sans joy written in red on his shield(full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Sansjoy notices that the Redcross Knight has the shield of his slain brother, Sansfoy. Sansjoy starts a fight with the Redcross Knight. They clash,... (full context)
Book I: Canto V
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Duessa hangs Sansfoy’s shield from a tree—both she and the shield will go to the victor of the fight.... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...Redcross Knight to put aside his vengeance, saying that he has won her and the shield. (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...wants to kill Sansjoy. Trumpets greet his victory, and the knight is presented with Sansfoy’s shield. He gives the shield as a gift to Lucifera. There is a celebration for the... (full context)
Book I: Canto VII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...and challenges the Redcross Knight. Being weakened, the Redcross Knight can’t get to his enchanted shield. Orgoglio strikes many times with his mace and knocks the knight down but doesn’t slay... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...likeness of a lady’s head, with many shining stones and jewels on his clothes. His shield, meanwhile, is covered in perfect diamonds. (full context)
Book I: Canto VIII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
...recovered and comes charging at Prince Arthur. He brings his club down hard on Arthur’s shield and believes it impossible that any mortal could withstand such a blow. But as Arthur... (full context)
Book I: Canto XI
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
The dragon is enraged again. It springs up, then grips onto the Redcross Knight’s shield. The knight tries to pry the shield away but isn’t strong enough. The knight strikes... (full context)
Book II: Canto IV
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Just then, a varlet (a type of servant) with a shield that reads “Burnt I do burne” begins riding toward them. The varlet, whose name is... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
...will come and make them bleed. Atin throws a dart that bounces off Sir Guyon’s shield, then he flees. (full context)
Book II: Canto VIII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Pyrochles and Cymochles take Sir Guyon’s shield and helmet. Just then, they see the proudest and noblest knight in the world is... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Pyrochles and Cymochles both charge Arthur from opposite sides. Though they strike fiercely, Arthur’s shield stays strong. Arthur manages to strike back with his spear and stab Cymochles through the... (full context)
Book II: Canto IX
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...Pyrochles and Cymochles are dead, Arthur recovers his stolen sword and returns Sir Guyon’s stolen shield back to him. Arthur asks Guyon why he has an image of the Faerie Queene... (full context)
Book II: Canto XI
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
...squire, and immediately the enemies start firing arrows at him. Arthur blocks them with his shield and uses his sword to disperse the swarms of enemies around him. (full context)
Book III: Canto III
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...She and Glauce sneak into an armory where they get equipment for Britomart, including a shield and a spear that happens to be enchanted. Britomart begins her quest to faerie land... (full context)
Book III: Canto IV
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...with the damsel he’s been following, but she keeps fleeing, scared off by his unfamiliar shield and armor. Arthur keeps pursuing her, but eventually he gets exhausted and has to sleep.... (full context)
Book III: Canto XI
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...the gate. Scudamore laments that there’s no way in, but Britomart just gets behind her shield and uses it to force her way through the flames. Scudamore tries to do something... (full context)
Book IV: Canto VII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...fight, with the “savage” man using his club and even using Amoretta as a human shield. But Timias manages to injure the man, and he throws Amoretta down. While the battle... (full context)
Book IV: Canto X
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...ending up at a temple of Venus on an island. The temple holds the great shield of Love, but it’s guarded in a castle by 20 knights. (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
The shield of Love hangs on a marble column, and written in gold near it is the... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Scudamore claims the shield, then continues to a gate where the porter at the door is a man named... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...trying to sneak between the giant’s legs, he’ll face Danger head on. Seeing the magic shield of Love, Danger lets Scudamore go in without a fight. (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...Womanhood rebukes him for being too bold. He shows her, however, that he wields the shield of Love, which appeases Womanhood. (full context)
Book V: Canto III
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...way. Arthegall sees the hundred knights imprisoning Marinell, and so as a disguise, he swaps shields with Braggadochio. He then defeats all the knights and frees Marinell, before swapping shields back... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Real Florimell comes to greet all the knights. Braggadochio then comes forward with his shield (which Arthegall used) and everyone cheers Braggadochio’s name. When Florimell comes to congratulate him, however,... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...lie, so he steps forward to tell everyone that he was the one using Braggadochio’s shield in the tournament. He shows his wounds as proof, then bets that Braggadochio’s Florimell is... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
...shame is punishment enough. Talus carries Braggadochio off, shaving his beard and taking away his shield. Braggadochio is disgraced, and the other knights and ladies soon resume celebrating. (full context)
Book V: Canto V
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...wound his thigh. But just as she brags about causing this injury, Arthegall shatters her shield, then hits her on the head, knocking her helmet off. (full context)
Book V: Canto VIII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
...manages to strike a serious wound on Arthur’s side. Just then, however, Arthur grabs his shield from a shady place, and the light causes the Sultan’s horses to sprint off in... (full context)
Book V: Canto XI
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
...tail of a dragon, and the wings of an eagle. When she sees Arthur’s shining shield, she attacks. (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
The monster tries to pry away Arthur’s shield, shouting curses as it goes. The two struggle, until eventually Arthur strikes the monster in... (full context)
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
...a crowd. It turns out the knight’s name has been blotted by shame and his shield is gone. Nevertheless, Arthegall sends Talus to disperse the crowd and free the knight from... (full context)
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
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Arthegall asks about Burbon’s broken shield. Burbon responds that he was originally dubbed a knight by the Redcross Knight himself and... (full context)
Book V: Canto XII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
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...to go for a killing blow. Arthegall manages to block this mortal strike with his shield, and Grantorto’s ax gets stuck in Arthegall’s shield. (full context)
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Grantorto tries to get his ax out of Arthegall’s shield but can’t. Using his blade Chrysaor, Arthegall hits Grantorto on the helmet, staggering him and... (full context)
Book VI: Canto XII
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
...It also has poisonous serpent tongues. Sir Calidore isn’t afraid, however, and he uses his shield to pin the monster down. The beast rages and tries to get free, becoming stronger... (full context)