(Queen Elizabeth considered as a sovereign.) Spenser says in his Faërie Queene that she kept an annual feast for twelve days, during which time adventurers appeared before her to undertake whatever task she chose to impose upon them. On one occasion twelve knights presented themselves before her, and their exploits form the scheme of Spenser's allegory. The poet intended to give a separate book to each knight, but only six and a half books remain.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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