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Medieval Romance

Sir Eglamour of Artois

14th century, Middle English: 15th and 16th century manuscripts at Cambridge University Library, Lincoln Cathedral Library, British Library, Bodleian Library.

The king took home the child that he had found in the forest. 'I have seen a wonderful thing! Look what God has sent me!’ he said. The Queen was delighted and sent for a nurse immediately.

The Erle gaf to God a vowe: 'Dowghtyr, into the see schalt thowe [thou] in a schyp alone...' – The earl vowed to God: ‘Daughter, you shall be thrown into a boat and set adrift upon the sea, alone, just you and your bastard child; and he shall have no christening.'

The lady sighed and climbed into the boat. Soon it was adrift upon the sea; the wind increased and carried her to a small island; it was no more than a rock. She went ashore, hoping that she might be able to find some habitation, but all she found were seagulls that perched and flew all around her. And as she sat with them, a creature that was half eagle half lion came and carried off her child to an unknown land.

‘Alas that I was ever born!’ she cried. ‘My child has been taken from me!'

The King of Israel went hunting one day and he saw the griffin land. He strok on the chylde with his byll; the chyld scryked [screeched] that greved hym yll - he rose and lefte hym so. Riding with his huntsmen towards the spot, the King watched the griffin slap the infant with its beak, as though it was a new-born baby uttering its first breath, and then fly off stork-like. The king wrapped the child in a scarlet mantle and gave the baby into the safekeeping of a squire. The infant’s eyes betrayed a lively character and because of the nature of his arrival, they named him Degarébel.

The king abandoned his hunt and took the child home. ‘My dear,’ he said to the Queen, ‘I have seen a wonderful thing! Look what God has sent me!’ The Queen was delighted and sent for a nurse immediately.

Story fragment recounted from: Hudson, Harriet, 1996, second edition 2006. Four Middle English Romances, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University for TEAMS. Medieval Institute Publications. The Middle English text of SIR EGLAMOUR OF ARTOIS from British Library MS Cotton Caligula A.ii.

See for yourself

Sir Eglamour of Artois – TEAMS Middle English texts

Sir Eglamour of Artois – Wikipedia

Chivalric Romance – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications – Harriet Hudson (Ed), Four Middle English Romances: Sir Isumbras, Octavian, Sir Eglamour of Artois, Sir Tryamour, Second Edition. TEAMS Middle English texts

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