Medieval Romance

The Romance of Torrent of Portyngale

14th? century Middle English in unique 15th century manuscript: Chetham’s Library, Manchester MS Chetham 8009.

‘I believe there is a Christian man close by,’ said the giant.

Torrent heard the dragon in a gorge. It would move and then wait, move and wait again. The tail that the dragon trailed behind him was seven yards long. His wings were broad and powerful and he suddenly flew towards Torrent making a dreadful noise. Torrent had neither shield nor lance, so he prayed to God to do something to sap the beast’s strength, for he was very frightened of it.

The dragon had a lump on the end of its tail that glowed like molten glass, and as it swiped it towards Torrent, through the grace of God almighty, Torrent was able to cut it off with his sword, along with three yards of the tail, as it says in this book of romance. The loathly thing cried out in pain and the valley rung with its hideous noise.

A giant heard it.

The gyant seyd: 'I vndyrstond there ys sum crystyn man nere hond; my dragon here I cry.‘I believe there is a Christian man close by,’ said the giant. ‘I can hear my dragon crying out. By he who shaped both water and land, I imagine that some brave man must be near him. I’ll go and have a look. If I stayed resting my head on this stone pillow while my most cherished fosterling was being killed, I’d be a poor master indeed.’

By the time the giant had roused himself, Torrent had slain the dragon.

Story fragment retold in Modern English from: Adam, E (Ed), 1887. Torrent of Portyngale: Edited from the unique manuscript in the Chetham Library, Manchester. Published for the Early English Text Society by N Trübner & Co., London. This story fragment from lines 540–77.

See for yourself

Torrent of Portyngale – Database of Middle English Romance, University of York

Torrent of Portyngale – Internet archive

Complete text of Torrent of Portyngale, in Middle English, edited by E Adam from MS 8009 in Chetham's Library, Manchester in 1887, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

…or direct from Oxford University Press

Sir Torrent of Portyngale – edited by James Wade. Teams Middle English texts

Medieval Institute Publications – Wade, James (Ed), 2017. Sir Torrent of Portingale. Medieval Institute Publications. TEAMS Middle English text series


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