Piccadilly Circus

Medieval Romance

The Romance of Sir Guy of Warwick

13th century, Anglo-Norman French, British Museum, Corpus Cristi College Cambridge: 14th and 15th century Middle English translations, National Library of Scotland, Bodleian Library Oxford, Cambridge University Library.

Guy woke up at last, raised his head and saw the stars shining above him. There was no land to be seen but only a broad expanse of water.

The emperor took Sir Guy and gave him food, and made him comfortable. But Duke Barrard secretly summoned four of his cousins and told them to go to the court and kill the pilgrim. They quickly armed and made their way to the court, then crept about until they came at last to where Guy was sleeping. He was in a proper bed, with a wooden frame, with sheets of cloth-of-gold spread over him. The men who were supposed to be protecting him were all sleeping soundly. The four villains each took hold of a corner of this bed and carried it to the sea, then the four men threw the bed into the sea. Sir Guy lay fast asleep through it all!

The bed rose and fell with the waves. Guy woke up at last, raised his head and saw the stars shining above him. There was no land to be seen but only a broad expanse of water.

‘Almighty God!’ he cried, ‘who has done this to me?’ he cried. 'This is the end. I am a dead man. It is all Barrard’s doing!’

But then a fisherman appeared, in a boat, very close to Guy. The fisherman shouted to Guy to tell him who he was, and whether he was a Christian. Guy raised his head and called for mercy: ‘My friend,’ he called, ‘have no fear, I believe in God, may he protect me now! Do you know about a battle between a pilgrim and a knight?’

‘Yes, I saw it. I was watching until it got dark. The emperor parted them in the end. They are going to carry on in the morning.’

‘I am the pilgrim,’ said Guy. We were parted last night. I was very weary and went straight to sleep, and now I find myself here! I haven’t a clue how I came to be here. My dear friend, help me!’

Story fragment retold in Modern English from: Zupitza, J. 1875, reprinted 1966. The Romance of Guy of Warwick: The second or 15th-century Version. Published for the Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press. Text of GUY OF WARWICK from Cambridge University Library MS Ff 2. 38.

See for yourself

Guy of Warwick the Anglo-Norman Guthlac? – hzdansky@alumni.nd.edu University of Notre Dame

Guy of Warwick – Wikipedia

Medieval Romance – Wikipedia

Complete text of Sir Guy of Warwick in the Auchinleck Manuscript and in the second, or 15th century version, edited by J Zupitza, 1875, 1883, both reprinted 1966, Extra series, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

…or direct from Oxford University Press

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