Cophetua and Beggar Maid. Cophetua, a legendary king in Africa, cared
nothing for women until he saw a beggar maid ‘all in gray’, with whom he
fell in love. He married her and together they lived happily ever after.
The references to the story are in Shakespeare’s
Romeo and Juliet,
Henry IV, in Tennyson’s “The Beggar Maid’.
See: Sir Edward Burne-Jones King Cophetua and The Beggar Maid.
Fair Rosamond and Queen Eleonor. ‘Fair
Rosamund’ is the historical Rosamond Clifford, mistress of King Henry II.
According to an old English ballad she was kept in a house, set in a maze,
where only the King could find her, following the special silk cord. Queen
Eleanor, Henry’s wife, eventually traced her there, and had her murdered.
See: Sir Edward Burne-Jones Fair Rosamond and Queen Eleonor.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Fair Rosamund.
Sir Isumbras is a character from the old English romance, popular
before 1320. Isumbras is a strong, handsome, and prosperous noble, but
also proud and arrogant. A bird sent by God offers him the choice of suffering
in youth or old age, Isumbras chooses the former. He losses his family,
possessions, and suffers for 21 years among the Saracens. But he bears
everything patiently and an angel tells him that his sins are expiated
and he is restored to his family and possessions.
See: Sir John Everett Millais. A Dream of the Past; Sir Isumbras at the Ford.