Medieval Romance

The Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton

12th century Anglo-Norman Boeuve de Haumton | 14th century Middle English: National Library of Scotland, Cambridge, Manchester, Naples.

His eyebrows were a span in length, set two feet apart and he carried an enormous club, made from the entire trunk of an oak tree.

Josian was overjoyed that both lions had been killed. Bevis’s joy cannot be described as he thanked God for his victory. He was very upset about Boniface, but since there was nothing they could do about it, he set Josian on her mule and they set off without delay.

On a hill they met a giant. He was not a pretty sight: the hairs of his beard were like a pig’s bristles, his mouth gaped like a grinning lunatic, his eyebrows were a span in length, set two feet apart. He bare a batte to yeve a stroke—al the body of an oke. He carried an enormous club, made from the entire trunk of an oak tree. Bevis was astonished. He asked him his name and whether everybody else in that country was as big as he was.

‘My name,’ replied the giant, ‘is Ascopart. ‘Garcy has sent me here to bring the queen back to him and to kill you. As to my fellows: I was driven out of my town because I was so small. Everybody would hit me and call me a dwarf. But now that I’m in this land, I’m stronger than you and ten others put together, I believe, and I shall demonstrate this right now.’

‘’Oh no you won’t, so God help me!’ replied Bevis.

Bevis spurred his horse, galloped at Ascopart and broke his lance against the giant’s shield. Ascopart raised his club and heaved it down with immense force, but his foot slipped as he did so and he fell to the ground with a thud. Bevis got down from his horse and drew his sword. Josian could see that Bevis was preparing to cut off the giant’s head and cried out:

‘Sir! So God save me, but let him live! He can be our servant.’

‘Madam, he will betray us,’ replied Bevis.

‘I guarantee that he won’t,’ she said.

Ascopart knelt at Sir Bevis’s feet.

Story fragment retold in Modern English from: Fellows, Jennifer, 2017. Sir Bevis of Hampton: Edited from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale MS XIII.B.29 and Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.2.38. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford University Press. This Middle English fragment of SIR BEVIS OF HAMPTON retold from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale MS XIII.B.29, lines 3058–3115.

See for yourself

Bevis of Hampton – TEAMS Middle English text

Medieval Romance – Wikipedia

Bevis of Hampton – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications – Herzman, Ronald B, Drake, Graham and Salisbury, Eve, 1999. Four Romances of England. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications. TEAMS Middle English text series

The Middle English poem Sir Bevis of Hampton edited from Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29 and Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff.2.38 by Jennifer Fellows, 2017, 2 volumes, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

…or direct from Oxford University Press


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