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Medieval Romance

A Good Tale of Ipomadon

12th century, Anglo-Norman French, Hue de Rotelande | 15th century Middle English verse translation at Chetham's Library Manchester.

Ipomadon took a black banner from the tent and then everybody believed that he was Lyoline!

After this Ipomadon calde his cosyne Egyon... – Ipomadon summoned Egyon. 'Go quietly,' he said, 'conceal yourself at the edge of the forest and tell me what armour Lyoline is wearing; is it white or black – come quickly back and tell me.'

'What news,' asked Ipomadon eagerly, as Egyon returned. 'How is he arayd?' 'All in blake.' 'The same will I myselff take...'

Ipomadon armed himself in black.

The fight between he and Sir Lyoline is fierce and prolonged. At last, doubts creep into his opponent's heart.

'You have no strength to fight with me any longer, you know this to be true!' cried Sir Lyoline.

But such taunts have the opposite effect to that intended and Ipomadon, although badly wounded, attacks from now on with such ferocity that Lyoline is not able to deliver any strokes of his own, Ipomadon’s rain down so hard. Lyoline begins to retreat and to try to avoid the blows rather than to parry them. Ever since their horses have been killed, no one in the city has had any idea which knight is which.

Ptolemy watches all this from a distance and sees the outcome of the battle. Despite the similarity in their arms, he knows who has won. He brings a horse to Ipomadon and the knight leaps up onto it. No one dares to emerge from the city. Ipomadon rides into Lyoline’s tent and there is no one to challenge him. In the city the people groan in anguish. Ipomadon takes a black banner from the tent and then everybody believes that he is Lyoline!

He rides to the walls of the city and cries: 'Cease all this delay and get yourself ready, damsel! Now you can see for yourself that Lyoline is invincible! Wete ye well I am hee; – Know that I am he! Tomorowe into Yndde [India] ye shall wyth me, for I haue slayne youre knyght! – Tomorrow you shall set off with me for India, for I have killed your knight!'

Story fragment recounted from: Purdie, Rhiannon, 2001. Ipomadon. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford University Press. Text from MS Chetham 8009 (Manchester) in Middle English. Translation, summary and extracts from lines 7584–8152.

See for yourself

Anglo-Norman literature – Wikipedia

Ipomadon – Wikipedia

Complete text of the 15th century Middle English verse retelling of Hue de Rotelande's 12th century romance Ipomadon, edited by Rhiannon Purdie, 2001, with an introduction, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

…or direct from Oxford University Press

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