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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.

Sir Tirry has been looking for Sir Guy for nearly a year now but does not recognise his brother-in-arms when he finally meets with him. Sir Guy makes no attempt to reveal his true identity.

Whilst pursuing martial adventures in mainland Europe, raising armies, defeating enemies, Sir Guy of Warwick makes friends with Sir Tirry and they swear brotherhood-in-arms together. On one occasion Sir Guy rescues Sir Tirry from a deep dungeon by assuming a disguise. But Sir Guy returns to England, marries, and then resumes his wanderings on the continent this time as a palmer, a pilgrim.

One day he meets Sir Tirry once again. Sir Tirry has been expressly looking for Sir Guy for nearly a year now but does not recognise his brother-in-arms. They are both dressed as beggars. Sir Tirry, in fact, is now of the opinion that: I can not thynke, but he ys dedde, and therfore sorowfull ys my redde. – 'Sir Guy is probably dead, and so my mood is one of sorrow.' Sir Guy makes no attempt to tell him that he is wrong. And as Sir Tirry falls asleep beneath a tree in the heat of the afternoon, Sir Guy sees a weasel emerge from his mouth – Owt of hys mowthe wente a thynge also white, as any armyne [ermine] – it scurries across the ground and disappears into a hole in the side of a nearby hill. Then the weasel emerges from the hole and returns into Sir Tirry’s mouth!

When Sir Tirry wakes, he recounts a strange dream – he came to a cavern full of gold and marvellous treasures. Sir Guy tells him what he saw, they dig into the side of the hill and find a hidden hoard buried there. But Sir Guy lets Sir Tirry keep it and they both enter a nearby city, Sir Guy intent upon helping Sir Tirry regain his standing and his wealth, but without once betraying his true identity to him, which Sir Tirry never guesses.

Story fragment 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. Guy's meeting with Sir Tierry and their discovery of the treasure, lines 8755–9154.

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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