Medieval Romance

The Romance of Sir Guy of Warwick

12th century Anglo-Norman French | 14th and 15th century Middle English, various manuscripts, including Cambridge University Library MS Ff 2.38 and National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.2.1, the Auchinleck Manuscript.

When Guy had recovered, he got up and went to measure the dragon: it was sixty feet in length.

Guy swung his sword at the tail and cut in two. In this way he managed to make his escape. But in great pain and still fearful for his life, he knew that no weapon made of steel would be able to cut through the beast’s hide. The dragon knew that it was injured, though, and gave out a dreadful roar. The sound was so loud that it was heard throughout the whole country; no one who heard that dreadful noise thought anything other than that Guy’s end was nigh. And yet Guy circled around the tree with no intention of trying to run away. His coat of chainmail was in tatters, he felt as though his body had given its all and he knew that if he didn’t do something straight away, it would be too late.

As the dragon was turning, Guy managed to deliver a blow with his sword underneath and between its wings, giving the animal a dreadful wound. The dragon fell to the ground and Guy retreated as quickly as he could, for the nauseating stink was unbearable. He rested on the ground in great relief.

When Guy had recovered, he got up and went to measure the dragon: it was sixty feet in length. Everybody who came that way was astonished to see it lying there. Guy cut off its head, and a man carried it for him; Guy brought the head to York and presented it to the king, and he was taken into the city in a great procession. The dragon’s head was hung up for everyone to see.

Story fragment retold from: Zupitza, J, 1875, reprinted 1966. The Romance of Guy of Warwick: the second or fifteenth-century version. Edited from Cambridge University Library MS Ff 2.38. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford University Press.

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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