4.10. The Servaunt of a Soverayn

Sir Gawain replies to lady of Hautdesert (line 1278) that “Soberly your servaunt, my soverayn I holde you”.  In the context of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight this has generally been taken as a polite form of words.  Suppose we take it more literally, Sir Gawain would naturally describe himself as a “servaunt” of his patron, but although the lady of Hautdesert was not a “soverayn”, the patron of the Gawain-Poet may well have been a queen.

If this is construed as an aside in the poem from James Cottrell to Philippa, then it would be literally true, James Cottrell was a servaunt, and Philippa was his soverayn.  We can take it that the Gawain-Poet was a servant of some description, (very high probability,) but that he was servant to a queen is of rather lower probability (there were not too many queens.)