The King of Tars: Appendix: Variant Readings from the Vernon Manuscript

1 The three are Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates’ Library 19.2.1 (the Auchinleck manuscript); Oxford, Bodleian Library Poetry A.1 (the Vernon manuscript); and London, British Library Additional MS 22283 (the Simeon manuscript). See the introduction for more information.

2 A close comparison of Vernon and Simeon has revealed that Simeon is either a copy of Vernon or that they share the same exemplar. See Doyle, “Shaping of the Vernon and Simeon Manuscripts,” for a more careful discussion of the relationship between the two.

3 Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury, Four Romances of England, p. 188.

4 Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury, Four Romances of England, p. 188.

5 In keeping with the text, I have modernized those characters that have fallen out of use (e.g., thorn and yogh) that appear in the manuscript. I have also capitalized and added punctuation.
 
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The King of Tars: Appendix: Variant Readings from the Vernon Manuscript

from: The King of Tars  2015

There are three manuscripts that contain The King of Tars.1 The differences in the two main witnesses, Auchinleck and Vernon, demonstrate the tendency and processes of scribal alteration very clearly.2 Though they present the same tale, sharing episodes and structure, there are many lines that are vastly different. While the decision to base this text on Auchinleck is described in the introduction, some of the passages in Vernon are compelling for a number of reasons. In their introduction to Bevis of Hampton, Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury note “wide variation in manuscripts would certainly seem to be unusual, at least from the point of view of somewhat more ‘canonical’ texts — Biblical and classical — which were held in such awe by medieval authors that they dared not alter them.”3 Like “Bevis,” The King of Tars is an anonymous, roughly contemporary work that is “protected neither by sanctity nor sufficient authorial fame.”4 The antiquity of Auchinleck and its comparative completion has recommended it as closer to the original composition, and the unwritten assumption is that Vernon and Simeon were rewritten to be more in keeping with the desires of the patron; the language is “modernized,” that is, made to better reflect contemporary usage and dialect, and some significant passages have been abbreviated or expanded. A complete list of all variant readings in the textual notes would essentially reproduce the text of Vernon; thus I have not included Vernon in the textual notes. However, as it is illustrative of medieval revision strategies to present a few passages for comparison, especially those which are unique to Vernon, I include them here.5

VERNON 1–4 (NO PARALLEL IN AUCHINLECK):
 




 
Her biginneth of the kyng of Trars
And of the soudan of Dammas,
Hou the soudan of Dammas
Was icristned thoru Godus gras.
 
Here


baptized through

 
VERNON 76–84 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 76–84):
 




80




 
Heo nolde not leeven on his maneers.
To God heo made hire preyers,
     That Lord Omnipotent,
And bad him take another thought.
For hire ne scholde he wedde nouht
     For gold, selver, ne rent.
Whon the messagers this herde seyn,
Soone thei tornede hem ageyn
     And to the soudan went.
 
She would not believe




income



 
VERNON 100–06 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 100–06):
 
100




105
He tar the her of hed and berd
And seide he wolde hir winne with swerd
     Beo his lord, Seynt Mahoun.
The table adoun riht he smot
Into the flore foot-hot.
     He lokede as a wylde lyon;
Al that he hitte he smot doun riht.
 
tore; hair; head; beard

By
completely down; struck
immediately

VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 115 TO 120
 
VERNON 120–23 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 126–29):
 
120


     “And spouse hire with my ryng.
And,” he seide, withouten fayle,
“Arst he woulde me sle in batayle
     And mony a gret lordying. . .”
 
wed

Before
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 139 TO 141
 
VERNON 145–75 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 154–81):
 
145




150





155




160





165




170





175
Batayle thei sette uppon a day
Withinne the thridde day of May;
     No lengor nolde thei leende.
The soudan com with gret power,
With helm briht and feir baneer,
     Uppon that kyng to wende.

The soudan ladde an huge ost
And com with muche pruyde and bost
     With the kyng of Tars to fihte,
With hym mony a Sarazin feer.
Alle the feldes feor and neer
     Of helmes leomede lihte.
The kyng of Tars com also
The soudan batayle for to do
     With mony a Cristene kniht.
Eyther ost gon othur assayle;
Ther bigon a strong batayle
     That grislych was of siht.

Threo hethene agein twey Cristene men
And falde hem doun in the fen
     With wepnes stif and goode.
The steorne Sarazins in that fiht
Slowe ur Cristene men doun riht;
     Thei fouhte as heo weore woode.
The soudan ost in that stounde
Feolde the Cristene to the grounde,
     Mony a freoly foode.
The Sarazins, withouten fayle,
The Cristene culde in that batayle;
     Nas non that hem withstode.

Whon the kyng of Tars sauh that siht. . .
 


would; linger

bright; fair banner
go

led; host (army)
pride

many; fierce
fields far
With; gleamed bright


knight
Either army began [to] assail [the] other

to see

Three; two


fierce
immediately
insane
sultan’s army; moment
Knocked
noble creature

killed
[There] was none who

 
VERNON 181–86 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 187–92):
 




185
The soudan neigh he hedde islawe
But thritti thousent of hethene lawe
     Coomen him for to were
And broughten him ageyn uppon his steede
And holpe him wel in that nede
     That no mon mihte him dere.
 
nearly; slain
thirty thousand

lifted; onto
helped
harm
VERNON 204–22 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 210–28):
 

205




210





215




220

     Ur Cristene folk so fre
The Sarazins that tyme, saunz fayle,
Slowe ur Cristene in batayle.
     That reuthe hit was to se.
And on the morwe for heore sake
Truwes thei gunne togidere take:
     A moneth and dayes thre.

As the king of Tars sat in his halle,
He made ful gret deol withalle
     For the folk that he hedde ilore.
His douhter com in riche palle;
On kneos heo gon biforen him falle
     And seide with syking sore:
“Fader,” heo seide, “let me beo his wyf
That ther be no more strif
     Then hath ben her bifore.
For me hath be much folk schent,
Slawen and morthred and torent,
     Allas that I was bore!”
 
Our; noble
without

calamity
And the next day for their




sorrow
lost
fine cloth
she
sighing
be

here
killed
Slain; torn to pieces
VERNON 230–46 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 236–52):
 
230





235




240




245
“That Cristene men schul for me dye
     Thorw grace of God Almiht.”
Then was the kyng of Tars ful wo,
Anon he onswerde tho
     To his douhter briht:

“Douhter,” he seide, “blessed thou be
Of God that sit in Trinité
     The tyme that thou were bore.
That thou wolt save thi moder and me,
Thi preyere now I graunte thee
     Of that thou bede before.”
“Fader,” heo seide, “par charité
And for Crist in Trinité,
     Blyve that ich weore thore
Ar eny more serwe arere
That ye ne my moder dere
     For me beo nought forlore.”
 

Through
sad





born

grant
asked


Quickly; there
Before; sorrow arise
[neither] you nor
VERNON 277–82 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 283–88):
 



280

Whon the messagers thus herde seyn,
Smartliche thei torned ageyn
     To the soudan swart and wan.
Whon he herde heore lettres rad,
Then was he bothe blithe and glad
     And murie as eny man.
 

Quickly
swarthy and dark
heard; read
happy
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 288 TO 300
 
VERNON 297–315 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 315–33):
 



300




305





310




315
     To the kyng of Tars he sent
With Sarazins and with muche pryde
With mony a juwel is nought to huyde
     To make hym a present.
Forth thei went that ilke tyde;
To the kyng of Tars thei gan ryde
     That was bothe freo and gent
Thei welcomed the messagere;
Of gret reuthe ye may here
     Whon thei to chaumbre went.

In chaumbre kyng and qwene was tho,
In serwe and care and muche wo
     For heore doughter hende.
Heor doughter com bifore hem wende
And bad hem bi hire counseil do
     To save Cristene kende.
The doughter ther with wordes stille
Brought hem bothe in beter wille
     And into halle gunne wende.
 

great
conceal

same hour

noble and refined

sadness


were then

gentle
went




began to go
VERNON 325–42 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 343–49):
 
325




330

The qwene onserde with mylde mod
To the messagers ther thei stod
     And swor thenne anon riht,
“Ich fouchesaaf on him my blod
To him heo nis not to good
     Thaugh heo weore ten so briht.”

The messagers weore glad and blythe
 
humble words
where
entirely at once
promise
she; too
Even if she were ten [times] as beautiful (virtuous)

VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 355 TO 369
 
VERNON 335–42 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK LINES 353–70):
 
335




340



Heore serwe couthe no mon kithe
     To seon hire from hem fare.
Thei seghe hit mihte non other go.
The kyng and the qwene also;
     Thei custe heore douhter thare,
Bitaughten hire God forever mo.
Hemself ageyn thei tornede tho
     Of blisse thei weore al bare.

Now lete we of that mournyng
 
Their; could; reveal
go
no other [way] be

kissed
Commended her [to]

were barren

VERNON 353–60 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 380–87):
 



335




360
With riche clothes heo was cled
     Hethene as thaugh heo ware.

The soudan ther he sat in halle.
He comaundede his knihtes alle
     That maiden for to fette.
In cloth of riche purpel palle,
And on hire hed a comeli calle,
     Bi the soudan heo was sette.
 
In; dressed
As if she were a heathen



fetch

headdress
VERNON 386–90 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 413–17):
 




390
 
Knihtes and ladyes token heore rest;
     Folk heo gonne withdrawe.
The mayden nothing ne slepe
But al niht lay and wepe
     Forte that day gon dawe.
 

[From] people she did withdraw
slept not at all

Until

 
VERNON 403–07 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 430–34):
 


405


 
So gryslich thei were wrought.
Uche of hem a swerd brought
     And mad hire afert so sore.
On Jhesu Crist was al hire thouht;
Therfore thei mihte hire harme nouht.
 


sorely afraid


 
VERNON 505–10 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 532–37):
 
505




510
 
Heo leyden on as heo weore wode,
With swerdes and with maces goode,
     Knihtes yonge and olde.
So thei foughte with egre mood
Of heore bodies ran the blod
     In tale as hit is tolde.
 
They; mad





 
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 550 TO 562
 
VERNON 559–62 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 598–601):
 

560


 
Then the ladi was ful wo.
Anon onswerde the soudan tho:
     “Sire, let be thi thouht.
The child that we have togedere two
 

Quickly [she] replied to (answered) the sultan


 
VERNON 610–18 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 649–51)
 
610




615



 
And leyde on til that he con swete
With sterne strokes and with grete:
     On Jovyn and Plotoun,
On Astrot and sire Jovin,
On Tirmagaunt and Appolin,
     He brak hem scolle and croun.
On Tirmagaunt that was heore brother,
He lafte no lyme hol with other,
     Ne on his lord Seynt Mahoun.
 
began to






left; limb

 
VERNON 679–86 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 718–25):
 

680




685





 
Adoun he fel uppon his kne
And feire he grette that ladi fre,
     And seide with sikynges sore
And seide, “Dame, iblesset ye be
Of God that sit in Trinité
     The tyme that ye weore bore.”
The ladi seide, “Art thou a prest?
Beleevest thou on Jhesu Crist?
     Const you of Cristes lore?”
The prest onswerde soone anon
In verbo dei ich was on
     Ten winter seththe and more.”
 

noble






Know

By the word of God

 
VERNON 705–08 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 744):
 
705



 
     “Al in priveté.
Her is a child selcouth discrif,
Hit nath nouther lyme ne lyf
     Ne eyen for to se.”
 

strange to look at
has not

 
VERNON 766–68 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 802–04):
 



 
“Ye sire,” heo seide, “be Seint Katerin,
Yif halvendel the child were thyn,
     Then miht ye gladnes se.”
 
Katherine [of Alexandria]


 
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINE 811 AND LINES 823–70
 
VERNON 782–98 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 821–82):
 



785





790




795


To joye that lasteth withouten ende
     May no mon hit discryve.
“Dame,” seith the soudan, “beo nou stille.
Ichul ben at thin owne wille
     And ben icristned blyve.

“Mi maumetrie ichul forsake
And Cristendom ichul take
     Withinne this thridde day.
No more folk distruye I nil.
I preye that prest to come me til
     To teche me Cristene lay
Priveliche, that hit be
That no mon wite bote we thre
     As ferforth as ye may.
Yif eny hit wuste heigh or lowe,
Icholde be brent and don of dawe
     Yif I forsoke my lay.”
 

describe

I will be
baptized immediately

idolatry




law


So far as
anyone; knew
killed (done of days)
law (faith)
VERNON 829–34 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 913–18):
 

830




 
The prest onswerde anon tho,
“Ichave al redi that schal therto
     Al redi in alle wise.”
The soudan dihte him naked anon
Into the watur he con gon
     And reseyvede the baptise.
 



quickly made himself naked
went

 
VERNON 901–03 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 985–87):
 



 
Priveliche with thin ost
Thou schouldest come withoute bost
     And serche uche cuntray
 


land

 
VERNON 935–39 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 1019–23):
 
935




 
A muri gretyng ther was gret
     Of lordes that ther ware.
A semely siht hit was to se:
The ladi falde doun on kne
     Bifore hire fader thare.
 
merry; great

pleasant; see
fell

 
VERNON 985–91 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 1072–75):
 
985




990


 
“Bi Mahoun and Tirmagaunt,
No mon schal be heore waraunt,
     Weore thei nevere so stronge!”
Bothe soudan and kyng,
And al that hem was folewyng,
     The deth thei scholde afonge.

Fyf kynges were of heigh parayle
 

their guarantee
Though they be


receive


 
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 1066–68
 
VERNON 1051–52 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 1135–36):
 


 
Kyng Merkel was ful wo;
To fihten anon he was ful thro.
 
greatly sorry
eager

 
VERNON OMITS AUCHINLECK LINES 1160–66
 
VERNON 1085–98 (COMPARE AUCHINLECK 1175–81):
 
1085





1090




1095


“That hethene dogge schal to grounde,
     Be the help of Seint Mihel

“I nul not dyghen in his dette.
A strok on hym ichul bisette
     Beo he never so bolde.”
Ur Ladi with an Ave he grette
That no mon scholde hym lette.
     The feendes strengthe to folde
He rod to hym anon ryht
With a dunt of muche miht,
     In stori as hit is tolde.
He hutte him on the helm on hiht;
Into the brayn thorw bacinet briht.
     Thus is his servyse yolde.



shall not die
bestow

Our; Hail; greeted
hinder
falter

blow


through

 
Vernon omits Auchinleck lines 1194 to 1229, but supplies an ending, included in this text (lines 1230–41).
 
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