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 Guy at last travels home to Warwick but conceals his identity from his wife. She does not recognise him.

After a long absence from his home in Warwick, wandering about the Holy Land and returning through Europe as a pilgrim, Sir Guy arrives back in England and finds the king, King Athelstan, at Winchester. He is beset by a Danish army and amongst their number is a giant whom King Athelstan must defeat. Sir Guy has been living as a pilgrim for many years, but offers to fight with this giant and free the king from the Danes. This he subsequently does, in true splendour.

'But who are you?' asks the king, afterwards.

'I will tell you if you promise not to disclose my identity to anyone for a year.' The king agrees.

'I am Sir Guy of Warwick, the knight whom you loved so well.' The king’s eyes widen and he jumps from his horse.

Hyt is gone well farre two yere that y harde say thou dedde were – It's more than two years ago now that I heard that you were dead!’ exclaims the king.

Sir Guy travels home to Warwick, and like Sir Orfeo: So longe wente he hys jurne, that he came to that cite, whereof he lord clepyd ys, and of no man ys perceyued ywys. To the castell gate he came; that hym knewe, was there no man. He travels so far that he comes to his own city, the city where he is lord, and no one knows him. He goes to the castle gate, but nobody recognises him. Guy is fed alongside other pilgrims and derelicts by his wife at their manor, but conceals his true identity from her. She does not recognise him.

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 return to England, his help to King Athelstan and his return to his wife, lines 9,914–10,510.

See for yourself

Guy of Warwick the Anglo-Norman Guthlac? – 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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