[[caption-width-right:350:Acrasia's Bower of Bliss]]

Just your typical collection of tales about a MagicalLand full of [[KnightInShiningArmor Knights in Shining Armor]], the evil knights and monsters they fight, and the beautiful maidens they love. Except half the knights are total newbies who have no idea what they're doing, the monsters are personifications of sins, and the maiden is just as likely as her boyfriend to be a warrior who has to bail him out of trouble.

Maybe it's not so typical after all...

''The Faerie Queene'' is a collection of 6 epic poems (and the few incomplete Mutabilitie Cantos) written by Edmund Spenser as a gift for [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Queen Elizabeth]]. The first three books were published in 1590 and the next 3 in 1596. As outlined in a letter to his friend Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser's plan was to write 24 books -- the first 12 each starring a knight who personifies one of the 12 Private Virtues, and the rest starring the PublicDomainCharacter [[KingArthur Prince Arthur]], who personifies the 12 Public Virtues -- ending with an epic battle against the Faerie Queene's ArchEnemy the Paynim King and her marriage to Arthur. Unfortunately, AuthorExistenceFailure got in the way; thus, we never meet the Faerie Queene in person, and Prince Arthur is never united with his True Love.

Gloriana, the Queen of [[LandOfFaerie Faerieland]], an obvious and flattering {{Expy}} of Queen Elizabeth, dwells in the magnificent royal city of [[ShiningCity Cleopolis]] where she runs the local HeroesRUs, the Knights of [[DoubleEntendre Maidenhead]]. The Knights are human beings who were SwitchedAtBirth with [[ChangelingTale Changelings]] (a supposedly favorite prank of TheFairFolk in those days) and serve the Faerie Queene in hopes of attaining honor and glory. The pattern of most of the stories is: a nearby kingdom is being terrorized by some threat, someone comes to Cleopolis to plead for aid, the queen sends a Knight to help them, the Knight and his companion go on a journey full of obstacles relevant to the virtue the Knight represents, the Knight defeats the villain. On the way, they eventually run into Prince Arthur, who fell in love with the Faerie Queene after seeing her in a dream. He is on his way to find her but keeps getting sidetracked by [[ChronicHeroSyndrome needing to help every character he meets along the way]].

The poems are strong Christian allegory full of symbolism and British legend. It was Spenser's first epic, a departure from the pastoral poetry he specialized in. It is widely studied in college English classes and a highly interesting read. Don't let the archaic language frighten you.

By far the most famous story is that of "Literature/SaintGeorgeAndTheDragon".
[[folder:In general]]
!!The entire series contains examples of:
* ActionGirl: Britomart, Belphoebe, Palladine, giving it probably the strongest female presence of any of the classic epics.
* AnAesop: Combined with MeaningfulName to make it clear that in the end, [[AnthropomorphicPersonification virtue always kicks vice's butt]]. Spenser even said in his introduction that he was hoping to demonstrate morality.
* BeautifulAllAlong: Inverted to the extreme with Duessa who is so cunning that she somehow manages to come off as beautiful until stripped of her trappings at the end, revealing that [[spoiler: she is as hideous on the outside as she is inside. The juicy details given by Spenser include her bald, infected scalp, toothless, rotten gums, reeking breath, sagging tits, genitals the details of which we are spared, a fox's tail covered with shit, and an eagle's talon and bear's foot.]]
* BeautyEqualsGoodness
* BestHerToBedHer: Britomart
* ChangelingTale
* DoorStopper
* EarthMother: Charity
* TheEpic: Spenser's first, as opposed to his {{Arcadia}}n speciality.
* {{Expy}}: Not just the Queen, but various political figures of the day.
** [[ActionGirl Britomart]] is closely based on Bradamante, the female knight who is one of the protagonists of ''Literature/OrlandoFurioso''.
* FinalBattle: In each book
* TheGhost: The Faerie Queene
* GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex
* HalfHumanHybrid: Satyrane, half human/half satyr; physically looks human but has a wild streak and love for nature.
* TheHermit: some real, some fake, met by knights in the wilderness.
* HeroesRUs
* TheHighQueen: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin See title]].
* JumpedAtTheCall
* KnightInShiningArmor
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* {{Meaningful Name}}s: Probably everyone. Some characters are simply named for their symbol, like Redcross the knight. Others have names in [[CanisLatinicus Canis Latinicus or Le Français des Chiens]], such as Sansloy the rapist and Sansfoy the traitor ("lawless" and "faithless", respectively, spelled in an archaic way).
** Some names even have a double meaning. For example, Archimago could be translated as "archmage" or "arch image" (from the Latin ''imago''), describing his identity as EvilSorcerer and master of illusions.
* {{Mooks}}: Vast hordes of mooks are effortlessly put to flight by the good guys.
* PolarOppositeTwins: SeparatedAtBirth twins Belphoebe and Amoret
* RealitySubtext: According to several scholars, including Richard Berleth, the author of the nonfiction book ''The Twilight Lords'', several plot elements were loosely inspired by Spenser's real-life experiences as a soldier in Ireland, where he was part of the [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Elizabethan]] army charged with crushing the Second [[LaResistance Desmond Rebellion]].
* SecondaryCharacterTitle: Albeit [[AuthorExistenceFailure unintentionally]].
* SweetPollyOliver: Britomart and Glauce
* TakeThat: The Catholic Church is frequently on the receiving end.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Braggadocchio and Trompart, mostly harmless nuisances who go around posing as a knight and his squire
* TheTourney
* ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend: Una and Britomart
* VirginPower: The {{Action Girl}}s
* WalkingTheEarth
* [[YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe Ye Olde Butcherede Middle Englishe]]: Spenser uses several archaisms to try to imitate the Middle English of Chaucer and his fourteenth century contemporaries, with varying degrees of success and failure. Several words with the "y-" prefix (used in Middle English to indicate the past participle, already more obsolete and exceedingly quaint by Spenser's time than "thou," for instance, is now) were made up by Spenser himself.
[[folder:Book 1]]
[[WMG:Book One]]
* '''Protagonist''': The Redcrosse Knight, the Knight of Holinesse
* '''Mission''': Slay a dragon and free the king and queen he's holding captive
* '''Accompanied by''': Princess Una (and a dwarf who carries their supplies)

!!!This book provides examples of:
* BigBad: While the dragon is Redcross' and Una's target, Archimago and Duessa are more direct versions of this.
* BittersweetEnding
* BodyguardCrush: Redcross and Una
* BreakThemByTalking: Despair's method of choice to [[DrivenToSuicide drive his victims to kill themselves]].
* ChestInsignia: "''On his breast, a bloodie cross he bore...''"
* DeathBySex: Duessa's previous victim and his girlfriend were turned into trees.
* DeusExMachina: Literally -- Redcross defeats the dragon in the end with help from the Lord.
* DistressedDude: Redcross when he is drugged and trapped in Orgoglio's dungeon.
* DrivenToSuicide: The goal of Despair. [[KarmicDeath Ironically, seeing the Redcross Knight escape his clutches drives him to hang himself.]]
* EasilyForgiven: Una (the True - that is, Protestant - Church) to Redcross after he abandons her; she seems more angry at Archimago and Duessa for tricking him.
* EroticDream
* EvilSorcerer: Archimago
* FriendToAllLivingThings: Una
* HeroicBSOD: Redcross makes the mistake of taking on Despair while he is still in the middle of one of these, which leaves him in even worse shape than before. Una has to get her friends Faith, Hope, and Charity to whip him into shape.
* TheHerosJourney: Two -- Redcross is on his own Journey, of course, but so is Una, and the Boon she has to bring back to restore her kingdom just happens to be a knight.
* HerosMuse: The Redcrosse Knight is guided and inspired by his love, Una, who is the personification of the "true church".
* HumiliationConga: Duessa
* IHaveYouNowMyPretty: Sansloy trying to rape Una
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Una
* LivingLieDetector: Una
* LovedINotHonorMore: Redcrosse returning to finish his service to the Faerie Queene after getting engaged to Una.
* ManipulativeBastard: Archimago and Duessa both qualify, as they manage to manipulate both Redcross and Una very effectively throughout the story.
* MasterOfIllusion: Archimago and Duessa
* MoreThanMindControl: The encounter with Despair
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Part of Redcross' encounter with Despair
* NeutralFemale: Una in the FinalBattle, although she steps in to save Redcross from Despair and instructs him from the sidelines during his first battle with the Dragon Errour. The fact that she ''finally'' stays out of it is actually a sign that Redcross has matured enough to handle the fight on his own.
* NobleSavage: Satyrane
* NoNameGiven: Redcross doesn't know his birth name or anything about his family, until Contemplation informs him he is [[PublicDomainCharacter Saint George]].
* NonMammalMammaries: The half-serpent/half-female monster introduced in stanza 14 of canto I, of which it isn't quite specified which half is which, has "A thousand young ones, which she dayly fed / Sucking upon her poisonous dugs."
* NotWhatItLooksLike: How Archimago tricks Redcross into thinking Una has cheated on him.
* NumericalThemeNaming: Una (representing unity) and her evil mirror image Duessa (representing duplicity).
* ReligionOfEvil: Spenser knew that the Catholic Church didn't like Queen Elizabeth I very much, so he created the characters Archimago, Abessa, and Duessa to make the Catholic Church look bad.
* ShapeshiftingSeducer: Duessa, who has done this more than once. Archimago ''tries'' to do this by assuming Redcross' form, but [[NiceJobFixingItVillain Sansloy attacks him thinking he's Redcross]] and nearly kills him before realizing the mistake.
* StandardHeroReward: After saving Una's parents' kingdom from the dragon, Redcross is betrothed to Una.
* TheVamp: Duessa (the False - that is, in the contemporary fashion of the day, Catholic - Church)
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Una is accompanied by a lamb. When Redcrosse charges ahead and leaves her in the dust, the next time Una shows up, she's alone - lambless apparently.
[[folder:Book 2]]
[[WMG:Book Two]]
* '''Protagonist''': Guyon, the Knight of Temperance
* '''Mission''': Arrest TheVamp Acrasia and destroy her Bower Of Bliss, a paradise where she lures knights, sleeps with them, then turns them into animals a la [[Creator/{{Homer}} Circe]]
* '''Accompanied by''': [[OlderSidekick A palmer]]

!!!This book provides examples of:
* BashBrothers: Pyrochles and Cymochles
* BeneathTheEarth: Guyon's trip to the Underworld
* BookEnds: At the start of the book, Guyon and the Palmer are too late to save a knight named Mordant (and his wife) from Acrasia's curse. At the end, they arrive on time to rescue her new victim, a knight named Verdant.
* CelibateHero: Guyon, to the point where he feels nervous just dancing with a woman at Alma's castle.
* DeathBySex: Acrasia's clients, who are either turned into animals or, if they come to their senses, die shortly after leaving.
* DrivenToSuicide: Amavia, after her husband dies a delayed death from Acrasia's poison.
* KickTheDog: The dead couple and their orphaned infant Guyon finds in the forest illustrate the damage Acrasia's evil can cause and how urgent it is that he stops her.
* PowerTrio of half-sisters:
** Elyssa, Deficiency
** Medina, Moderation, or the virtuous Golden Mean.
** Perissa, Excess
* SaveTheVillain: Guyon wants to help Pyrochles against Furor, but the Palmer tells him it's none of his business since Pyrochles released Furor himself.
* [[ShowWithinAShow Story Within a Story]]: The histories Guyon and Arthur read at Alma's castle.
* SwordOverHead: Guyon to Pyrochles.
* TheVamp: Acrasia and Phaedria.
* ThouShaltNotKill: Guyon only ever kills Pyrochles' horse throughout the story (and even considers that shameful), in sharp contrast to Redcrosse.
* TooDumbToLive: Pyrochles releases Furor and Occasion only to be fiercely attacked by him and suffers injuries that would have eventually killed him if not for Archimago's help. Later, he takes King Arthur's sword from Archimago despite warnings that he will not be able to slay its rightful owner with it, and predictably loses that fight. If he had taken Guyon's sword along with his shield (leaving Arthur's sword with Archimago), he and Cymochles would've likely won that fight (and slain Prince Arthur).
[[folder:Book 3]]
[[WMG:Book Three]]
* '''Protagonist''': Britomart, the Knight of Chastity
* '''Mission''': Originally to find the knight destined to be her husband, Artegall, but eventually becomes to save Amoret from the evil sorcerer Busirane and reunite her with her husband, Scudamour
* '''Accompanied by''': Her [[OlderSidekick old nanny disguised as her squire, Glauce]]

The Book of Chastity breaks away from Spenser's pattern. Britomart is a British princess who has come to Faerieland disguised as a male knight on a personal mission to find Artegall. Book Three also introduces the by-plots of Belphoebe's romance with Arthur's squire, Timias, and the woes of Florimell, a DamselInDistress who is always on the run because everywhere she turns, she finds another man trying to rape her, until she is captured by the sea god Proteus and thrown in his dungeon for refusing to sleep with him.

!!!This book provides examples of:
* AttractiveBentGender: Malecasta falls in LoveAtFirstSight with Britomart, unaware SamusIsAGirl.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo
* BrickJoke: Florimell and Marinell became this when Spenser decided to write more than three books and continued their story in Book Four.
* TheCasanova: Paridell.
* DamselInDistress: Florimell, many times. Amoret, to the EvilSorcerer Busirane.
* DesignatedVictim: The DamselInDistress Florimell, to the point where Spenser feels guilty for all the torment he puts her through.
* FoeTossingCharge / NonLethalKO: Britomart's magic spear will unhorse any mounted foe, apparently without ever seriously injuring them.
* FlorenceNightingaleEffect: Belphoebe and Timias.
* HelloNurse: Florimell
* IconicItem: Satyrane concurs Florimell is dead when he finds her golden girdle in the mouth of a beast.
* IHaveYouNowMyPretty: Busirane and Amoret, Proteus and Florimell.
* LesYay: Due to ValuesDissonance, this may appear to be the case between Britomart and Amoret. The latter even expresses her relief in length that the former would share a bed with her, rather than a man! Yet, the theme of the story is chastity, and indeed, to the nobility of the era, who could not ''imagine'' sexual attraction between two women, there really was nothing but chastity in the act. Amoret was relieved because to share her bed with Britomart would've meant ''no chance of having sinful sex'' because obviously, a woman just couldn't...
* LoveBeforeFirstSight: Britomart for Artegall.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Timias towards Belphoebe.
* MyBelovedSmother: Marinell's mother is adamantly against her son falling in love.
* MyGirlIsNotASlut
* PolarOppositeTwins: Amoret and Belphoebe. Amoret was raised by Venus to become the perfect wife and ProperLady; Belphoebe was raised by Diana to become a VirginPower ActionGirl.
* ThePowerOfLove
* ProphecyTwist: Regarding Marinell meeting his doom at the hands of a woman, not by falling in love, as his mother assumed, but in battle against Britomart.
* {{Retcon}}: After Spenser decided to expand the series beyond three books, he rewrote the ending so that Amoret and Scudamour do not reunite as soon as Britomart rescues her.
* RescueRomance: Timias falls in love with Belphoebe after she saves his life by healing his wounds.
* SamusIsAGirl: Britomart. Once to the audience, and several times in-story.
* SoBeautifulItsACurse: Florimell
* StarCrossedLovers: Marinell and Florimell
* UglyGuyHotWife: Deconstructed with Malbecco and Hellenore
[[folder:Book 4]]
[[WMG:Book Four]]
Book Four is a {{Continuation}} of Book Three. Britomart finds Artegall, Florimell is released from her dungeon and engaged to Marinell, but first Satyrane invites all the knights in the land to a tournament and beauty contest. The prizes for the winning knight and the most beautiful girl will be... each other! Entering the tournament are best friends and brothers-in-law (they married each other's sister) Campbell and Triamond from one of Creator/GeoffreyChaucer's ''Literature/TheCanterburyTales'', "The Squire's Tale," another series cut short by AuthorExistenceFailure. Britomart, still in disguise as the Knight of the Ebon Spear, wins the tournament, and enters Amoret in the beauty contest. The judges decide the "Snowy Florimell" (a clone of Florimell a witch made for her son) is the most beautiful girl, but she fails the final test: the real Florimell's golden girdle, which can only be worn by a virgin, won't fit her. In fact, it won't fit anyone but Amoret, which Britomart argues makes her the most beautiful. But the value of virginity and true love is the main point of Book Three. The Virtue of Book Four is Friendship, personified in Campbell's and Triamond's friendship and Britomart's and Amoret's (once Amoret realizes her rescuer is not a man who is keeping her near him to take advantage of her).

!!!This book provides examples of:
* BeautyContest
* BigBrotherInstinct: Campbell
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Campbell's and Triamond's BackStory
* DoubleInLawMarriage: Brother and sister Campbell and Canacee married sister and brother Cambina and Triamond.
* FanSequel: Campbell's and Triamond's side of the story, to "The Squire's Tale"
* TheGirlWhoFitsThisSlipper
* HeroicBSOD: What does Marinell do when he finds out Proteus has his girlfriend? Storm the castle and rescue her? Devise a plan to secretly steal her away? Challenge Proetus to a duel? Nope... he lies on his bed, weeps, and can't eat or sleep until ''his mother'' Cymodoce steps in and saves the girl.
* LoveAtFirstPunch: Britomart and Artegall
* LovedINotHonorMore: Artegall postponing his and Britomart's marriage until he finishes his mission for the Faerie Queene (see Book 5 for that).
* LoveHurts: When the lovers are separated, as a lot in this book are.
* LoveMakesYouCrazy: Timias temporarily loses his sanity, secluding himself in a cave, when Belphoebe thinks he cheated on her. Ironically, Belphoebe realizes how much he loves her when she finds him in this state.
** Also Marinell when he realizes Florimell is being held prisoner by Proteus, to the point where Cymodoce [[MyBelovedSmother relents]] and gets Neptune to intervene.
* MamaBear: Cymodoce
* MyGirlIsNotASlut
* MySisterIsOffLimits: Campbell has this attitude towards Canacee, taken to overprotective extremes.
* NotWhatItLooksLike: Belphoebe when she sees Timias aiding an injured Amoret.
* ThePowerOfFriendship
* PropheticFallacy: Neptune lectures Proteus on how prophecies are not supposed to be used to deliberately mess with people.
* SecondhandStorytelling: A lot of {{flashback}}s
* TwoLinesNoWaiting: Four-or-Five Lines No Waiting, actually
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Amoret's and Scudamour's parties eventually meet up, but Spenser forgets to rewrite the epic reunion scene he cut from the first version of Book Three.
* WomenAreWiser: After deciding too many knights have been killed fighting over Canacee, Cambina uses magic to force their brothers to stop fighting and be friends instead of killing each other.
[[folder:Book 5]]
[[WMG: Book Five]]
* '''Protagonist''': Artegall, the Knight of Justice
* '''Mission''': Defeat the giant Grantorto and free a queen Irena and her kingdom
* '''Accompanied by''': The man of iron, Talus

In the middle of the book, Artegall loses a duel to the evil Amazon queen Radigund because he refuses to finish her off when he has the chance because of her beauty. When she imprisons him, it's not the famous Arthur who comes to his rescue but Britomart.

!!!This book provides examples of:
* AxCrazy: Talus. He kills everyone who looks at him the wrong way, and at one point ''cuts the hands off and drowns'' a woman who they've taken prisoner. The only thing that keeps him nominally on the side of good is that he works for Artegall, who has to curb some of his more bloodthirsty rampages.
* ChekhovsGun: The Blatant Beast
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: Radigund makes all the male knights she defeats and imprisons wear women's clothes and do women's chores.
* DesignatedGirlFight: Britomart fights Radigund to save Artegall.
* DistressedDude: Artegall getting rescued by Britomart.
* DoesNotLikeMen: Radigund.
* DownerEnding: Despite saving Irena from Grantorto, Artegall is shunned when he returns to Faerieland thanks to Envy, Detraction, and the Blatant Beast.
* {{Expy}}: Artegall for the Earl Grey.
* FateWorseThanDeath: See CoolAndUnusualPunishment.
* JudgmentOfSolomon: Arthegall arbitrates a dispute between a squire and a knight over a woman (who is apparently incapable of telling them herself). It turns out the knight kidnapped the woman (and killed his own girlfriend when she objected to his running off with her) and is subsequently sentenced to carry her severed head around for a year as punishment.
* PoisonousFriend: Talus, and how.
* SequelHook: The sudden appearance of the Blatant Beast at the end.
* SpotTheImposter: At Marinell's and Florimell's wedding, Artegall outs the Snowy Florimell as the fake, and she melts.
** Braggadocchio's charade of posing as a knight is also revealed, along with his theft of Guyon's horse.
* WomanScorned: Radigund.
* WouldntHitAGirl: Artegall's policy; obviously, he's not too smart about how he uses it.
[[folder:Book 6]]
[[WMG:Book Six]]
* '''Protagonist''': Calidore, the Knight of Courtesy
* '''Mission''': Capture the Blatant Beast

Calidore disappears from the radar for a good chunk of the action while the story follows Calepine, his girlfriend Serena, Arthur, Timias (who has regained the will to live and fight after being reconciled with Belphoebe), and their encounters with the Blatant Beast, whose bites cannot be healed and work like rumors, cursing the victims with bad reputations.

!!!This book provides examples of:
* AuthorAvatar: Colin Clout.
* BreakTheHaughty: Mirabella.
* ChangelingFantasy: Pastorella, the shepherd girl turns out to be a long-lost princess.
* CliffHanger: See DownerEnding.
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: Mirabella broke 22 hearts, so she must help 22 men while traveling with and being abused by Disdain and Scorn.
* DiabolusExMachina: Calidore eventually captures the Blatant Beast. Then it escapes and causes people's reputations to suffer til this day.
* DownerEnding: The Blatant Beast escapes at the end, any book in which it's recaptured left unwritten.
* EvilUncle: in Tristram's BackStory
* LoveTriangle: Calidore, Pastorella, and Coridon.
* NobleSavage: One of these helps Serena and Calepine.
* RescueRomance: Pastorella falls in love with Calidore when he saves her from a tiger.
* RosesAreRedVioletsAreBlue: Thought to be the source.