Medieval Romance

The Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton

12th century Anglo-Norman Boeuve de Haumton | 14th century Middle English: National Library of Scotland, Cambridge, Manchester, Naples.

The giant was incredibly strong and over twenty feet tall. He picked up a stick, walked over to the gates and had a good look at Bevis.

Bevis was so hungry that he didn’t know what to do. But he leapt back onto Trenchefis and they rode over dale and down until Bevis came to a settlement, and there was a castle nearby and in a turret he could see a fair lady. He thought there might be a good chance of getting some food here – but he’ll have to pay a high price for it first!

Bevis made his way to the castle and asked for a meal. ‘Madam,’ he said, ‘for the love of God, give me something to eat.’

‘I’d get away from these gates if I were you,’ the lady replied. ‘You’d be better off anywhere but here. Go away, before you get a mouthful of something you don’t expect. My lord is a giant who believes in Termagaunt and he hates all Christian men. He regards them all as lower than dogs.’

‘However angry this giant may become, I intend to get some food for myself,’ replied Bevis. ‘With goodwill, if possible, but if not by force. I’m not joking.’

The lady was not pleased. She went down to the hall and explained to her lord how a Christian knight had just sworn that: ‘He won’t go away until he’s been given some food and drink.’

The giant was wondir strong, large xxti fote long… The giant was incredibly strong and twenty feet tall. He picked up a stick, walked over to the gates and had a good look at Bevis. He recognised the horse. ‘You’ve been stolen,’ he said to the animal.

‘Where did you steal this horse?’ he asked Bevis. ‘You’re riding on Trenchefis. He belongs to my brother, Sir Grandener.’

Story fragment retold in Modern English from: Fellows, Jennifer, 2017. Sir Bevis of Hampton: Edited from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale MS XIII.B.29 and Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.2.38. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford University Press. This Middle English fragment of SIR BEVIS OF HAMPTON retold from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale MS XIII.B.29, lines 2332–2375.

See for yourself

Bevis of Hampton – TEAMS Middle English text

Medieval Romance – Wikipedia

Bevis of Hampton – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications – Herzman, Ronald B, Drake, Graham and Salisbury, Eve, 1999. Four Romances of England. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications. TEAMS Middle English text series

The Middle English poem Sir Bevis of Hampton edited from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29 and Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff.2.38 by Jennifer Fellows, 2017, 2 volumes, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

…or direct from Oxford University Press


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