This superb collection of medieval myths and legends, including those of Beowulf, Charlemagne, Siegfried, Arthur and Guinevere, Merlin, Tristan and Iseult, El Cid, and Reynard the Fox, come down to us from the bards and minstrels who traveled from castle to village, entertaining their audiences with tales of heroic exploits. Not only do these stories still have the power to move and amuse us, they are valuable for what they reveal of European cultures in the Middle Ages. Typically, the medieval romance and other kinds of myth and legend from this period offer a heady mix of Christian and pagan elements, reflecting both the passing of an ancient culture and the arrival of a new order. Stories of the Crusades perhaps best illuminate the transition. Not purely legend, not really history, they often involve pagan heroes reshaped to fit tales of knighthood and Christian endeavor. In many, the Holy Grail may be the object of diligent search, but magic and witchcraft are still very much in evidence. The mythic qualities and colorful subject matter of the stories have long exerted a powerful influence on Western art, music, and literature. The 36 illustrations included in this edition — by such well-known artists and illustrators as Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Willy Pogany — are engaging proof of their power to inspire. Folklorist and mythologist H. A. Guerber’s splendid retelling of these myths is preceded by her enlightening introduction to their cultural and historical roots.