Lybeaus Desconus (Lambeth Palace, MS 306)


Line references are consistent for both texts in the early part of the poem. Thereafter we have listed Lambeth (L) first followed by the corresponding line numbers in Naples (N) in parentheses; when lines are omitted in L, N is the first text referenced. Short stanzas or missing lines are noted for both manuscripts. Perhaps these omissions are deliberate or the lines could have been missing from the scribe’s copy-texts.

Abbreviations: A: Ashmole 61 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS 6922) (see Shuffelton); AND: Arthurian Name Dictionary; C: London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A.ii (see Mills); L: London, Lambeth Palace, MS 306; LBD: Li Biaus Descouneüs; LD: Lybeaus Desconus; LI: London, Lincoln’s Inn, MS 150 (formerly known as Lincoln’s Inn, MS Hale 150) (see Cooper); MED: Middle English Dictionary; N: Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29; NAE: Lacy, New Arthurian Encyclopedia; ODOS: Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints; P: London, British Library, MS Additional 27879 (Percy Folio); SGGK: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Shuffelton: Codex Ashmole 61.

Incipit L: A tretys of one Gyngelayne othir wyse namyd by Kyng Arthure Lybeus Dysconeus that was bastard son to Sir Gaweyne. This extended incipit in L is unique among the extant manuscripts. N: Libious Disconious.

1–6 The invocation to Christ and his mother is conventional and appears to include the audience in its storytelling. Renaut de Bâgé’s poem begins with an encomium to the poet’s lady: “Cele qui m’a en sa baillie / cui ja d’amors sans trecerie / m’a doné sens de cançon faire — por li veul un roumant estraire / d’un molt biel conte d’aventure” (For my sovereign lady I have written and sung of a love that knows no false­hood, according to the direction she gave. Now I wish to compose a romance for her from a beautiful tale of adventure) (Le Bel Inconnu, lines 1–5). The substi­tution of the Virgin Mary in the English version underscores similarities between religious discourse and the quasi-religious discourse of courtly love, marking perhaps a shift in emphasis toward piety. The Virgin is the recipient of a number of pleas in the poem, most notably when the maiden Violet is abducted and about to be assaulted by two giants.

4 L: That lysteneth of a conquerour. N: That listenith of a conquerour. The cues of oral poetry are retained, even though this is a late version of the poem; the oral story­telling tradition and minstrelsy are particularly strong in both L and N. Musical instruments, the dwarf’s ability to entertain as well as to advise, and several musical allusions draw attention to the debt that metrical poetry and music owe to each other. See Zaerr, “Music and Magic.” Purdie notes that the rhymes “conqueror/warrior” appear also in the opening of Otuel and Roland (Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111); see Otuel and Roland, lines 3, 11.

7 L: His name was Sir Gyngelayne. N: His name was hote Gyngeleyn. L’s manner of naming the protagonist “Sir Gyngelayne” has the effect of legitimating the natural son of Gawain by dubbing him a knight, whereas N does not. The moniker “Lybeaus Desconus” (spelled in various ways in Lambeth and Naples) is later bequeathed upon the hero by Arthur for practical purposes (see L, N, line 80), an act marked by a marginal note in L. In Renaut’s poem, the hero’s name is not revealed until the end.

7–30 The story of the hero’s enfances in Renaut’s text enters the narrative after the defeat of the enchanters (Mills, p. 42). In LBD, however, the events of the “enfances” differ from the English versions. Following the fier baiser, the disembodied voice of la Pucele as Mains Blancs (the Maiden of the White Hands) informs Guinglain that his father was Gawain and that his mother is Blancemal le Fee (lines 3235–37). The mother of the Middle English Lybeaus, however, is not a “fay” who arms her son to send him to the Round Table. There are several romances where the hero’s mother, estranged from the hero’s father, either because she has been abandoned or because of the father’s death, leaves the court and makes a life in rural seclusion, often in a forest, with her son whom she isolates and protects from the world. In Sir Perceval of Galles, for example, Acheflour retires from court upon the death of her husband and lives secluded in a forest with her young son Perceval. Whereas Lybeaus’s acquisition of a chivalric identity begins with his discovery of a dead knight in full armor, Perceval’s chivalric identity begins when he meets fully alive Arthurian knights. Further, the illegitimacy of Gyngeleyn is lessened by the fact that his father is Sir Gawain, one of Arthur’s most honored knights. Gawain ranks among “the most complex Arthurian characters”; he often exemplifies courtesy and chivalric ideals, but his frequent womanizing also receives attention (Shuffelton, p. 474n8). The stigma of illegitimacy imposed upon Lybeaus at the beginning of the poem is somewhat mitigated at the end by full recognition of the Arthurian court and his marriage to the regal Lady of Synadoun. N and A continue and conclude the hero’s enfances with the return of Gyngeleyn’s mother to Arthur’s court in the final scene, a family reconciliation not present in the other manuscripts. Sir Degaré, like Lybeaus, is an illegitimate son, but he manages to reconcile his parents and promote their marriage, whereas in LD, Sir Gawain and Lybeaus’s mother do not marry.

9 L: Under a forest syde. N: Bi a forestis side. The location of Lybeaus’s conception at the edge of a forest also places him at the outer limits of legitimacy. As Shuffelton notes, “bastardy was often imagined as manifesting itself in moral or physical defect” (p. 475n15); moreover, in the realm of the law, an illegitimate child could not legally inherit property from either parent (Brand, “Family and Inheritance,” p. 73). This medieval context thus provides motive for Lybeaus’s strong drive for public recognition by the Arthurian court and confirms the underlying narrative sense that he is to some extent legitimized by his paternal bloodline and his father’s reputation. According to Thomas Wright, “The story of rising from an obscure beginning is a very common one in medieval literature, and belongs to a principle of medieval sentiment, that noble blood was never lost . . . and that if a knight, for instance, met with a woman, or however low the circumstances under which the child received its first nurture, the blood it had received from the father would inevitably urge it onward till it reached its natural station” (quoted in Hales and Furnivall, Bishop Percy’s Folio, 2:405).

11 L: With Arthur at the Roun Table. N: With Arthur at the Round Table. The Round Table, added to the Arthurian cycle by Wace in the twelfth century in his Roman de Brut (“Fist Artur la Runde Table” [Arthur had the Round Table made], line 9751), has become a symbol of Arthurian governance. The Winchester Round Table shows the names of twenty-four knights, one of whom is Lybeaus Desconus, written “S(ir) lybyus dyscony(us).” See Badham and Biddle, “Inscriptions in the Painting,” pp. 255 and 280.

19 L: For he was full savage. N: For that he was so savage. Narratives of l’enfant sauvage (the wild child) abound in the Middle Ages. In Middle English romance, the wild child trope may include characters such as Gowther, whose kinship with Merlin (as half-brother) renders him a good candidate for taming; that he is conceived by a demon disguised as his mother’s husband (an episode akin to Arthur’s as well as Merlin’s conception) contributes to his lack of civility. His wild behavior is particularly noteworthy when he is described as having suckled nine wet nurses to death (Sir Gowther, lines 119–20). Lybeaus exemplifies his inner wild child in that he inhabits the forest and, like young Perceval, he flagrantly disregards the rules of chivalric behavior.

26 L: His moder clepte him Bewfiz. N: His modir callid him Beaufits. The name means literally “Beautiful Son” (Beau Fitz) and is a term of endearment bequeathed upon the boy by his mother, whose name is unstated, although in LBD, Guinglain’s mother is Blancemal le Fee. It is tempting to see a pun as well on “Bewvisage.” See N, line 72, where Lybeaus is praised for being “so feire of vis” and similarly in L (same line number): “so fayre a vice.” Naming is an important feature of medieval romance, a genre often concerned with questions of identity and chivalric education. His mother’s term of endearment is later supplanted by Arthur’s dubbing of the young man as Lybeaus Desconus, although both names allude to the young hero’s good looks and, by implication, his noble blood through kinship with Gawain and Arthur. Lybeaus’s testing through adventure confirms the outward sign of noble blood, that is, his masculine beauty, and explains his natural prowess.

28 L: And this childe was so nyse. N: And he him silve was nyse. Lybeaus is called a child here not only because of his apparent youth (as indicated by Arthur in L, line 103: “But me thinketh thou arte to yonge” or N, line 106: “But ever me thinkith thee ful yong”) but because his identity is partially defined by his biological kinship with Gawain and by his mother. “Child” also means a young man who aspires to be a knight or a young knight at the early stages of his career. To say that Lybeaus is a “child” because he has not been fully enfolded into chivalric masculinity and Arthur’s court is pertinent to the use of the term here, since Lybeaus’s identity is fully aligned at this point in the narrative with a mother wholly responsible for her son’s nurture. Like other orphaned, abandoned, fostered, or quasi-legitimate male protagonists of medieval romance (e.g., Tristan, Perceval, Lancelot, and Arthur), Lybeaus cannot be fully masculinized until he has been properly trained in the precepts and practices of chivalry. Only A and P assign a specific age to Lybeaus: “Ten yere olde I ame” (A, line 52) and “14 yeere old I am” (P, fol. 157r, line 52 [Cooper]). The typical age at which a young man could be knighted was twenty-one. This rite of passage varied among literary knights: at twenty Chaucer’s Squire is still a squire, while Bevis of Hampton becomes Sir Bevis at fifteen, as does Sir Gowther.

37 L: He toke off that knyghtis wede. N: The childe drowe off the knyghtis wede. In a system predicated upon honor and prowess, armor stripping is a dishonorable and frowned-upon practice. The scene recalls a similar incident in the tales of Perceval in which the young rustic, with the help of Gawain, appropriates the armor of a dead knight. He, like Lybeaus, is unfamiliar with courtly etiquette. Lybeaus’s ignorance and naiveté in this scene illustrate the “savagery” and “outrage” mentioned in lines 19 and 20.

41 L: Glastynbury. N: Glastonbury. A traditional placename associated with Arthurian literature. Its use in the Middle English romance situates Arthur and his court in that part of Britain known as Logres. In Wirnt von Grafenberg’s Wigalois, Arthur’s court is located in Brittany, whereas in LBD, Arthur’s court is in Caerleon in Wales.

45 L: This childe knelyd downe on his kne. Despite his lack of chivalric training, C and L’s Lybeaus seems to know what to do in front of a king, a gesture that tacitly indicates the boy’s innate nobility, an apparently inherited character trait that allows the disadvantaged Lybeaus to claim his proper heritage in this early scene. N, A, and P (the stanza is missing completely in LI) omit Lybeaus’s gesture of kneeling, perhaps in order to underscore his rustic ways. In N, he simply greets (grete, line 45) the king and his knyghtis alle (line 44).

48 L: missing expression. N: Y pray yow, par amour. Literally, for the sake of love, this is a conventional courtly expression added to requests. The expression is used only in N and P.

49 L: I am a child unkowthe. N: Y am a childe unknowe. The boldness of this pronouncement in a court obsessed with gestures of civility and courtesy indicates lack of training in these skills. The translation of L’s unkowthe as uncouth is certainly plausible, but N’s unknowe suggests that it could also mean “unknown,” or that the scribe understood it as a word relating to the overall themes of the poem; the notion that to be unknown is also to be outside the realm of chivalry renders both interpretations possible.

52 L: Lorde, I pray thee nowthe. N: Lord, Y pray you nowthe. This line differs con­sid­er­ably from the other redactions that indicate Lybeaus’s age. (See note for line 28.)

61 L: Sayde Gyngelayn, “Be Seint Jame!” N: The childe seid,“Bi Seint Jame.” L alone among the manuscripts cites the name “Gyngelayn” here. The naming of saints is significant throughout the narrative. This reference is probably to James the Great, the first apostle of Christ to die and to be martyred for Christianity. The shrine with which he is most often associated is Santiago de Compostela in Spain. His cult was so thoroughly linked to pilgrimage that his emblems, the scallop shell and wide-brimmed hat, frequently became the garb of medieval pilgrims (see ODOS, p. 135).

66 L: Clepped me Bewfice. N: Callid me Beaufice. This second occurrence of Lybeaus’s informal moniker underscores its importance to the narrative. In the Promptorium Parvulorum, the nickname means “more beautiful son;” the entry reads “Byfyce. Filius, vel pulcher filius (1:28). Shuffelton’s suggestion that Rate, the presumed author/scribe of A, “may be evoking another famous romance hero, Bevis (or Beuis) of Hampton, who is not otherwise connected to this story” (p. 475n26), lends another dimension of meaning to the designation. Good looks appear to foreshadow a hero’s success.

69 L: Be God and Seint Denyce. N: Bi God and Seint Denyce. Although the naming of saints is a common feature of the English version of the poem, in passages focused on the renaming of the protagonist, the utterance of saints’ names calls attention to their value as mediators between human and divine realms. This saint, for whom the abbey of St. Denis was named, was popular in France and also in England, with forty-one churches named in his honor (see ODOS, p. 135).

80 L: Lybeus Disconeus. N: Lybeus Dysconius. This short line, consisting only of the two words that compose the protagonist’s name, calls attention to itself metrically as well as visually. In L, the name Lybeus Disconious in a later hand appears in the margin; interestingly, the spelling Disconious resembles the Naples spelling Dysconious.

88–93 L: “Now Kyng Arthur hathe made me knyght.” Alone among the manuscripts, L attributes a verbal response to Lybeaus that suggests an innate graciousness and proclaims his new status to the court.

89 L: I thanke him with all my myght. N: And with a swerde bright of myght. Nancy Cooper ("Libeaus Desconus," p. 400) believes that “bright” is erroneously repeated here from the previous line. A reads “suerd of might” (line 89), C: “swerde of might” (line 77), and P rearranges the lines thus: “K[ing] Arthur anon right / with a sword ffaire and bright / trulye þ[at] same day / dubbed that child a knight / And gave him armes bright” (fols. 157r–v, lines 85–89 in Cooper).

92–93 L: to say . . . in feere. N: with a swerde bright of myght (line 89). say (“assail”). See MED saien (v)d: “to test one’s strength on, do battle with; an aphetic form of asseien: to try, test, challenge,” in feere (in the company of men). Having been knighted, Lybeaus is eager to prove himself in combat. In N, he is taught by Gawain.

93 L: Short stanza. Following Arthur’s investiture of Lybeaus, Gawain trains him in knightly combat and provides him with a shield only in N, A, P, and C. The passage is missing in both L and LI. Gawain’s mentorship is important to the shaping of Lybeaus’s identity as a knight and a tacit if unacknowledged recog­nition of their father-son relationship and Lybeaus’s innate nobility. The shield, of course, marks a knight’s identity in the field. N: Aftur, him taught Gaweyn . . . He hongid on him a schilde (lines 91–94). Also missing in L and LI, the details of the shield appear in C, N, A, P. The griffon, a hybrid fabled animal with traits of a lion and eagle, appeared in medieval bestiaries, encyclopedias, and travel lit­er­ature, and was adopted as a common feature in heraldry. It is somewhat ironic that the Fair Unknown should be given such a well-known identifying heraldic device. At N, line 264, however, the shield has only one griffon as its device. N: a schilde / With grefons overgilde, / Ipeyntid of lengthe ful gay (lines 94–96).

95 L: Of Arthure a bone he bade. N: Anone a bone he bade (line 98). The novice knight’s request for the king’s granting his petition is reminiscent of a similar scene in Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, though such a request is an important trope of romances and of Arthurian literature more generally. Notice how N’s “Anone” creates a Lybeaus more impetuous than L’s.

103 L: But me thinketh thou arte to yonge. N: But ever me thinkith thee ful yong (line 106). Arthur’s assessment here emphasizes the youth and inexperience of Lybeaus and perhaps refers back to the king’s initial reluctance to dub him without proof of his abilities or lineage. If Lybeaus is as young as ten or fourteen as some manu­scripts suggest (see note for lines 28 and 52), then Arthur’s hesitancy is well justified, although medieval boys were expected to engage in adult activities earlier than modern boys. Aristocratic males, for example, were generally im­agined to be ready for marriage at age fourteen (for girls, age twelve). Military training also began early. William Marshall served as a squire for eight years, during which time he trained for combat; he was thirteen when he entered the service of William, lord of Tancarville (Painter, William Marshal, pp. 16–17).

108 L: Wesshed and went to mete. N: Thei weschid and went to mete (line 111). The motif is found in Emaré, Sir Orfeo, Le Bone Florence of Rome, and Robyn Hode and the Potter. This custom is reiterated in several different ways in courtesy books that advocated teaching children, particularly boys, from a young age, e.g., The Young Children’s Book from Ashmole 61, Dame Courtesy from Ashmole 61 (previously pub­lished as The Babees Book, ed. Furnivall; see Shuffleton, Codex Ashmole, p. 447), etc. See also the texts in Furnivall's edition of The Babees Book: including Aristotle’s A B C, Urbanitatis, Stans Puer Ad Mensam, etc., the texts in Medieval Conduct Literature.

115 L: Ther con a mayde in ryde. N: Ther come a maid in ride (line 118). As often happens in Arthurian narratives, an adventure ensues just as the court sits down to dine (perhaps the best time to catch everyone at home). There is a strong resemblance to Lunete in Chrétien’s Yvain here.

116 L: And a dwerfe by hir syde. N: A dwarfe rode bi hur side (line 119). The dwarf is a stock character of medieval romance, but this particular dwarf has a name and description of his own. Unlike most medieval dwarves he is more virtuously construed (see notes for lines 130–40 below).

118 L: The may hight Ellene. N: The maid was yhote Elyne (line 121). In LBD, the messenger is named Helie. Other variations include Elene (C), Elyn (A), and Hellen (P). The line is missing in LI.

124–26 L: She was clothed in tarse, / Rownd and nothinge scarse, / I-pured with blawndenere. N: The maiden was clothid in tarsis, / Round and no thing skars, / With pelour blandere (lines 127–29). References here to tarse and blawndenere suggest an exotic opulence to Elene’s dress. Tarse refers to a costly fabric associated with Tharsia, whereas blawndenere refers to rich fur, possibly ermine. The dwarf in Sir Degaré has a surcoat “iforred with blaundeuer apert” (line 794). Other manuscript variants include blandere (N, line 129), blaunner (C, line 117), blaundyner (A, line 129), and Blaundemere (P, fol. 157v). The line is missing in LI. Editors have found blauwndener (L) or blandere (N) difficult. The Auchinleck editors of Sir Degaré transcribe the word as “blaunchener” (line 794), but the manuscript reads “blaundener.”

129 L: Milke white was hir destere. N: Mylke white was hur desture (line 132). According to the MED, the term refers to “a riding horse of noble breed, a knight’s mount.” Later in the poem, the horse is called a palfrey, a steed more closely identified with women and ordinary riding rather than a steed used for battle, although the terms appear to be used interchangeably in LD. The luxurious saddle decorations as well as the milk white color of the horse indicate the high status of both.

130 L: The dwerf was clothed in ynde. N: The dwarf was clothid in ynd (line 133). Ynd(e) could be the color of the cloth (indigo) or a kind of cloth associated with India, extravagant and exotic, distinguishing the dwarf as a special envoy from a signifi­cantly noble court. The manuscripts do not agree on the color or the fabric of the dwarf’s clothing; P clothes him “with scarlett ffine” (fol. 157v). N’s “hynd” is probably an error for “ynd.” Mills (LD, p. 208–09n121–32) notes the similarity between this description of Theodeley (N’s Deodelyne) and the dwarf in the Auchinleck Sir Degaré, lines 781–94.

132 L: Stoute he was and pertte. N: For he was stout and pert (line 135). The term pertte means “attractive” or “comely,” according to the MED. The dwarf here resembles the lady of Sir Launfal as described in lines 292 and 294, “Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May . . . He seygh nevere none so pert.” Stoute here does not represent portliness but rather strength or courage.

135 L: His surcote was so ryche bete. N: His sircote was overte (line 138). Mills (LD, p. 209n126) corrects L with a reading from C, here corroborated by N. The reference is to the surcot ouvert. Mills directs readers to Joan Evans, Dress in Mediaeval France, frontispiece, pp. 17, 31, and fig. 67 (p. 209n126). A reference to sorcot overt also appears in Sir Degaré, line 793. This is another instance where N agrees with C and not with L, A, or P (the line is missing in LI); C reads “Hys surcote was ouert”; P: "His cercott was of greene"; and A: "His sircote was yalow as floure."

136 L: His berde was yelewe as wax. N: His berde was as yelow as wax (line 139). Dwarves play an important part in medieval romance, and not all conform to negative stereotypes of this stock character. Many function similarly to Shakespeare’s “licensed” fools as messengers, philosophers, or counselors to the king. Some­times they are wicked and treacherous as is the dwarf in the Tristan narratives; at other times they are loyal as in Malory’s “Tale of Sir Gareth.” Physiognomy, the medieval science of physical form and shape thought to correspond to one’s intrinsic worth, appears not to apply to these characters. The dwarf in LBD and Wigalois enters Arthur’s court riding on the back of his lady’s saddle. Perhaps it is only by coincidence that the dwarf’s “yellow beard” matches the color of his lady’s hair. However, as Mills notes (See the quotation Mills cites on p. 208n121– 32), the dwarf in Sir Degaré has hair as “crisp an yhalew as wax” (line 786).

137 L: To his girdyll hange his fax. N: To his gurdul [henge] the plax (line 140). C also reads “To hys gerdell henge the plex” (line 128), once again agreeing with N and opposed to L, A, and P. (See Mills, LD, p. 209n128.) According to the MED, plax refers to braided hair or beard, whereas fax refers to the hair of the head.

142 L: Theodeley was his name. N: Deodelyne was his name (line 145). See C Teandelayn; A Wyndeleyn, P Teddelyne. The line is missing in LI. These are the Middle English versions of Tidogolain, the dwarf in LBD, who serves Helie, the lady-in-waiting to Blonde Esmeree, the French text’s equivalent to the Lady of Synadoun. Vernon J. Harward, Jr., The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance, places this character within a category he defines as “romance dwarfs,” whom he describes as often having characteristics such as “beauty or handsomeness of countenance, excellent proportion of body and limbs, and, twice, [as described in this poem, having] fair hair” (p. 29). Theodeley/Deodelyne is clearly what Harward calls a “petit chevalier” (p. 29). The messenger’s name Elyne (the spelling in N) is incorporated into N’s spelling of the dwarf’s name, Deodelyne (italics added). Both dwarf and Elyne function as metonymic surrogates for the Lady of Synadoun, whose messengers they are. Together their attitudes and comments challenge, test, and later confirm the prowess and knightliness of Lybeaus.

146–47 L: Sotill, sawtrye in same, / Harpe, fethill, and crowthe. N: Sotil, sawtre in same, / Of harpe, fethil, and crowthe (lines 149–50). These are the stringed instruments — citole, psaltery, harp, fiddle, and crowthe — that Theodeley/Deodelyne apparently masters, indicating that he is indeed a “petit chevalier” educated in courtly accom­plish­ments pleasing to aristocratic ladies. Music and minstrelsy appear also in the Golden Isle and the enchanted castle of Synadoun. (See Zaerr’s discussion in “Music and Magic”). The debt that medieval poetry pays to music is addressed in Strohm and Blackburn, Music as Concept and Practice, especially in the section on minstrels and their education (pp. 98–103) as well as the section on instrumental music (see below note 216), “Soft Instruments,” pp. 147–56.

148–50 L: He was a gentill boourdour / Amonge ladyes in boure, / A mery man of mouthe. N here (lines 145–53) appears to have a defective stanza, missing L’s triplet. Mills (LD, p. 289) notes that L 148–50 are lacking in N, but that they are present in all other versions of the poem (except LI, where this entire section of the poem is missing). These lines, however, carry an almost sexual implication concerning the relation­ship of the dwarf to women in their bowers, and they appear in neither Sir Degaré (see note to line 136 above) nor LBD. In other words, the omission in N may be intentional, a way of evading an unnecessary sexual implication.

160 L: Mi lady of Synadowne. N: My lady of Synadowne. The imprisoned heroine of LBD, la Blonde Esmeree, the queen of north Wales, is presented by Helie as the “daughter of King Guingras” (line 177). See the note for L, line 1772. Synadoun refers to the ancient Roman station of Segontium, called later by the Welsh Cair Segeint, Caer Seint, or Caer Aber Seint, at the base of Mount Snowdon in Wales. It became known as Snauedon and later simply Snowdon (see Loomis, “From Segontium to Sinadon,” pp. 526–28). Synadoun was also associated with magic and a history relevant to the curse placed upon the queen. According to the AND, a curse inhibited construction on Vortigern’s fortress at Snowdon, which could only be removed by the blood of a fatherless child. His emissaries brought before him Ambrosius (in Nennius) or Merlin (in Geoffrey of Monmouth), who stayed his execution by showing a hidden lake beneath the foundation, where two dragons fought, one white, the other red; the victory of the white dragon, Merlin said, “foretold Vortigern’s eventual defeat” (AND, p. 449). In the Welsh Lludd and Llefelys, the dragons had been buried there by Lludd. In the Historia Meradoc, Snowdon is the capital of Wales, whereas in LBD, it is at the base of the Snowdon mountains laid waste by two sorcerers, Mabon and Evrain, until disenchanted by Guinglain, the son of Gawain (p. 449).

162 L: That was of grete valure. N: That was of grete honour. This description appears to refer to the lady and not the prison, since virtue typically resides in human subjects rather than in inanimate objects. The term valor or honor applied to a woman is significant, however, since, according to the MED, the term embodies chivalric virtues of “nobility of character,” “spiritual worth,” “courtliness,” “refinement,” “bravery,” “courage,” “physical strength,” “stability,” and “endurance.”

164 L: That is of wer wyse and wight. N: In warra that were wyse and wight. N’s reading “warra” conflicts with L and A, which have “wer” and “were” respectively. C deviates completely, omitting the concept of war, and substituting the line “With herte good and light” (line 155). The line is missing in LI, but P carries forth the idea of war in a much altered line, “For to win her in fight” (line 170 [Cooper]; fol. 157r). Given that the manuscripts disagree, N’s “warra” is a possible variant of ware or wara. The phrase “in warra” is probably a variant of “on warra,” meaning watchful or alert (MED). The line thus describes an alert or keen knight who is both wise and courageous.

165 L: To wynne hir with honoure. N: To wyn hur with honour. In LBD, Helie forewarns the Arthurian court that the knight who frees her lady must first accomplish the “Fier Baissier,” the Fearsome Kiss (line 192). Here, in the ME narrative, Lybeaus has no prior knowledge of this expectation and so is taken completely by surprise when the dragon kisses him later.

166 L: Uppe startte that yonge knyght. N: Than stert up a yong knyght. In LBD, Arthurian knights hesitate to volunteer for the task, whereas here Lybeaus simply asks first.

178 L: The mayde began to chide. N: Than gan Elyne to chide. Shuffelton calls Elene a “demoisele mesdisante, a sharp-tongued maid who never hesitates to voice severe criticism, particularly when the hero engages in something foolhardy” (p. 476 n181). One might consider her to be the prick of Lybeaus’s conscience since she reminds him of his promise to Arthur at crucial points in the narrative.

183 L: lose. N: loce. The term refers to “reputation” or “being known.” The Naples scribe frequently uses c and s interchangeably.

197–200 L: He shall do bataylles thre . . . At Poynte Perilowse, / Besyde the Chapell of Awntrous. N: Bataile five othir thre . . . At Poynt Perillous, / Biside the Chapel of Aventours. Lybeaus has many more fights than predicted by the dwarf (William Selebraunch and his three nephews, two giants, Sir Jeffroun, Sir Otis de Lile, Maugys, and Sir Lambert; before he actually sees the Lady of Synadoun, he must fight Iran and Mabon). Nor does Lybeaus begin his adventures at Poynt Perillous by the Chapel of Adventours. In LBD, Tidogolain does not speak or prophesy in this scene. According to Mills, Poynte Perilowse “roughly corresponds to le Guè Perilleus of the same episode in BD (323), but the Old French romance makes no mention of the cause with which the Poynte is presumably identified in L 301” (p. 213). Perhaps its mention here creates a bridge to the French romance and a reminder that Lybeaus is Gawain’s son. According to the AND, this is “a treacherous ford in the land of Galloway that no knight dared to cross. Gawain reached it during his travels and tried to jump his horse across it, but his horse jumped badly and dumped him into the river” (p. 401). Lybeaus will win against his opponent(s) here but will experience a river dunking later in the poem. Moreover, “chapel” is as likely to refer to a haunted place or fairy mound (as in SGGK) as to an orthodox parish church. The MED, in fact, cites this line, (chapele, n5c, “a haunted place, a fairy mound”). According to Shuffelton, “Antrus is a corrupt form of the name found in other manuscripts, Awntrous, and the Chapell of Antrus may be translated as ‘the Chapel of Adventures’” (p. 476n202–03).

203–16 The punctuation that Mills provides in his edition to L (lines 207–10) exaggerates the boast to the point of dissembling, as Lybeaus seems to claim experience in mortal combat that he does not yet have. A slight alteration in punctuation, how­ever, makes more sense in context and avoids vilifying the hero. He has some training in weapons (see note to lines 90–93 above). The remainder of the passage expresses Lybeaus’s firm conviction that to flee the potentially fatal battle is reprehensible.

216–25 L: short stanza. This stanza is missing in L and C, but present in all other manuscripts (N, A, P, and LI). It includes two rather stunning lines quoted in The Squire of Low Degree: “Therfore the dwarfe was full wo, / And sayd: ‘Arthur, thou arte to blame. / To bydde this chylde go sucke his dame / Better hym semeth, so mote I thryve” (lines 620–23). The Naples lines spoken by the dwarf are strikingly similar: “Go home and sowke thi dame / And wynne ther thi degré” (lines 224–25). With this particularly insulting remark, the dwarf cuts Lybeaus down to size and manifests the threat to the young hero indicated as well through his association with music. See note 146–47 above.

223–28 L: The mayden for ire and hete / Wolde neyther drynke ne ete. . . . N: The maide for noye and hete / Wolde nought drinke ne ete . . . (lines 232–37). In LBD, Helie and Tidogolain leave once Arthur has given his decree, before the meal, so that Lybeaus has to catch up with them later. Here the two messengers remain at the table and do not eat, but all three begin the quest together.

227 L: Tyll the table was raysed. N: Til the tabul was unleide (line 236). Shuffelton remarks that “in medieval halls, the large dining tables were movable boards, taken up and stored after meals to make space for other activities” (p. 476n239).

231 L: Foure of the best knyghtis. N: Four of the best knyghtis (line 240). L adds a fifth knight in the arming of Lybeaus, Lawncelett, who gives him a spear (line 258). In L, the first four knights are Gawain, Perceval, Ywain, and Agravain. N’s four differ in identity and order, and where L lists Gawayne, Persyvale, Iwayne, and Agfayne (Agravain), N lists Percevale, Gawayn, Ewain, and “Griffayn,” and excludes Lancelot (see the note for L240 [N250]). Shuffelton believes that the N, A reading of Gryffayn or Geffreyn is a corruption of Agravain (p. 476n257), and although this is plausible, the name may also be a corruption of Griflet (also known as Girflet or Jaufre). The names connected to Gawain, that is, Perceval and Ywain, may have evoked the name Griflet. For an account of the connections among Jaufre/Griflet and Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain and Perceval, see Hunt, “Texte and Prétexte.” Griflet in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur is one of the knights killed by Lancelot in his rescue of Guinevere. For a history of Sir Griflet in French and English Arthurian tales, see Reno, Arthurian Figures, pp. 133–34.

232 ff. L: short stanza. N: Of the best armour that myght be found (line 242).

235 L: That in the flome was baptiste. N: That in the flem Jourdan was baptist (line 245). As the passage makes clear, this is a reference to the archetypal baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The trope is recalled later in the poem when Maugis/Maugus dunks Lybeaus in a river during a battle (see L, lines 1413 ff. and N, lines 1436 ff.).

240 L: To armen him the knyghtis were fayne. N: To army him the knyghtis were fayn (line 250). In LBD, the Fair Unknown appears in Arthur’s court fully armed. Arthur does not knight the young warrior (he accepts him into his service as a knight of the Round Table), nor do his companions give him arms and weapons. The knights “fayne” named in the following lines are interesting, particularly since Gawain is first on the list and his brother Agravain is also included. In the middle are Perceval and Yvain, two knights arguably made most famous by Chrétien de Troyes; Lancelot is named shortly hereafter as the knight who provides lance and sword. Purdie links this scene in LD to the arming scene in Otuel and Roland (Anglicising Romance, p. 125 and n111). N, 271–72 (C, lines 235–36; L, lines 261–62) thus corresponds to Otuel and Roland 312, 315. However, where C, line 232 (L, line 258) recalls Otuel and Roland 303 (Purdie, Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111), N does not. Lancelot does not number among the arming knights in N, A, and P as he does in C and L (the episode in LI is illegible).

242 L: Syr Persyvale. N: Sir Percevale (line 251). In Sir Perceval of Galles, Perceval resembles Lybeaus in that he appears in Arthur’s court without chivalric upbringing and demands to be knighted; he also subsequently confirms his knightly worth. Ironically Perceval and Gawayn, the knights Elyne would have preferred as champions of her lady, are the first knights to prepare Lybeaus for his quest.

244 L: The fourthe highte Agfayne. N: The fourth was Sir Griffayn (line 254). See note 254 below where a griffon becomes part of the heraldry not found in L.

246 L: They kestyn on him of sylke. N: Thei cast on him of sylke (line 256). The arming scene depicted in L beginning at this line and in N at line 256 is an important set piece of chivalric romance and takes on the symbolic meanings of sacred ritual and the dressing of a knight or a priest. See Ramón Lull, chapter vi “The Sig­nificance of a Knight’s Arms,” The Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry, pp. 76–89, a popular text that circulated in England in “numerous manuscripts of French versions” (p. xvi), e.g., St. John’s College, Oxford, Codex 102 (late fourteenth century) and BL MS Additional 22768 first half of the fifteenth century) and translated with some elaboration into English prose in 1456 by Gilbert of the Haye (the Abbotsford manuscript). For Hay’s version of chapter 6, see pp. xli–xlii. The most memorable literary example in Middle English perhaps is the arming of Gawain in SGGK, though Chaucer’s arming of Sir Thopas may be a close second, with its mirror of mockery [CT (VII[(B2)] 857–87]. The attention paid to the description of the arming contrasts interestingly with both the undressing of the enchanted lady and her subsequent redressing as Lybeaus’s bride.

254 L: A shelde with one cheferon. N: A schilde with on griffoun (line 264). Only L varies from the heraldic griffon at this point (but see note for line 93 above). C has gryffoun (line 231); A: gryffyn (line 267); P: griffon (fol. 158v); and LI griffown (fol. 4r). Guinglain’s shield in LBD has a “lion of ermine” emblazoned on it (line 74). The shield hung around Lybeaus’s neck by Gawain is significant, especially in relation to its emblem. Noteworthy in this regard, as Hahn observes, may be “the fifteenth-century depiction of a coat of arms composed of a green field emblazoned with three gold griffins registered to ‘SIR GAWAYNE the good knyght’ (Harleian MS 2169; this is reproduced in The Ancestor: A Quarterly Review of County and Family History, Heraldry and Antiquities 3 [1902], p. 192” (Sir Gawain, p. 390).

257 L: Sir Percyvale sett on his crowne. N: Sir Persevale set on his croun / A griffon he brought with him (lines 267–68). Gawain has just set a helmet on Lybeaus’s head, and Perceval seems to add a crest in the figure of a griffon, which is also the heraldic animal depicted on his shield. This reference to a helmet crest is unique to N. Helmet crests, although first devised in the twelfth century, became fashionable in the fifteenth (Bradbury, Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare, p. 266). Chaucer appears to ridicule such pretensions in the Tale of Sir Thopas, CT (VII[(B2)] 906–08): “Upon his creest he bar a tour, / And therrinne stiked a lilie flour— / God shilde his cors fro shonde!”

260 L: And a fell fauchone. N: And a fel fouchone (line 270). For a good note on falchions see Ewart Oakeshott’s European Weapons and Armour and The Sword in the Age of Chivalry. See also Oakeshott, Archaeology of Weapons, p. 235, and Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050–1350, by David Nicolle. The MED defines a falchion as “A large, broad sword with a curved blade, a falchion; also, a short stabbing-sword or dagger.” The Middle English Breton lay Sir Gowther features a falchion as a weapon that represents in part Gowther’s identity and prowess. As David Salter puts it in a chapter on the poem, this is a weapon that only Gowther “is strong enough to wield” (Holy and Noble Beasts, p. 72).

264–66 L: The knyght to hors gan sprynge / And rode to Arthure the kynge / And sayde, “My lorde hende.” N: The yong knyght to hors gan spring, / And rode to Arthour the kyng, / And seid: “My lord so hynde” (lines 274–76). N here agrees with L (and C, lines 241–42). According to Purdie (Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111), these lines link LD to Otuel and Roland, lines 324–25. Lybeaus departs on the quest here with Elene and the dwarf, whereas in LBD he leaves the Arthurian court only with his squire Robert, as Helie and Tidogolain have already left (see note for lines 223–28 above). Throughout LBD, Squire Robert assists Li Biaus, but Squire Robert is not a character in LD.

270–71 L: Arthur his honde up haffe / And his blessyng him gaffe. N: Arthour his hond up hafe, / And his blessyng he him yafe (lines 280–81). The blessing by the king authorizes the mission. The upraised hand of a monarch with Arthur’s authority is significant in itself, but to have a blessing (here more a sanctioning of the mission than a religious blessing) from him indicates his confidence in Lybeaus’ ability to carry out his mission.

281–82 L: Faste he gan to chide. / And saide, “Lorell, caytyfe.” N: Ever sho gan to chide, / And seid: “Thou wrecche, thou caitife” (lines 291–92). L seems in error here, since Elene is the one who needs to be convinced that Lybeaus is in fact a worthy knight, and since the dwarf has already made his opinion clear, his chiding seems superfluous. Like N, C also attributes the chiding to Elene: “sche be-gan to chyde” (line 258) as does LI, “schee gonne chide” (fol. 4), although in A and P, both Elene and the dwarf combine efforts (“gan thei chyd” [A, line 294] and “they gan to chide” [P, fol. 158v]). Helie also chides at this point in LBD.

288 L: He hat Syr William Delaraunche. N: William Celabronche (line 298). William’s role as the first major opponent of Lybeaus is unique to the Middle English version of the poem. In LBD, Li Biaus’s first opponent is Blioblïeris, guardian at the Perilous Ford (see Theodeley’s/Deodelyne’s “prophecy” earlier) (see note to lines 197–200). Blioblïeris seems to be a crusader; he wears “a silk tunic from the Holy land” over his hauberk (lines 357–58). Li Biaus defeats him and sends him to Arthur’s court. However, his three companions, “Elin the fair, lord of Graie, / the strong knight of Saie, / and William of Salebrant” (lines 527–29) encounter him prior to his departure and seek to avenge his defeat. The English romance substitutes the name William Delaraunche/Celebronche for Blioblïeris, and his three companions become three unnamed kinsmen, probably because of the demands of rhyme scheme. “Celebronche” rhymes in N with “stonche” and “honche” and “lonche”; see also below, lines 376–77, where “Celebronche” again rhymes with “lonche.” Later “William” rhymes with “schame” and “St. Jame” (lines 431, 433). “Blioblïeris,” placed in the same rhyming position, would not rhyme so easily in English. As the main opponent, William is given a more expansive role in the ME version. Lybeaus’s decision to fight against a knight who has just been described as “a werreour oute of wytt” (L, line 290) suggests Lybeaus’s impetuosity and lack of experience in battle, if not in matters of mature deliberation. That he is victorious and does not kill his opponent in this version as he does in LBD places greater emphasis on William’s importance as a witness to Lybeaus’s growing prowess; he is expected to tell his story of defeat when he returns to Arthur’s court. Also noteworthy is that LD appears in the Percy Folio along with The Squire of Low Degree in which there is a reference to Salebraunce, though in the Squire the name refers to a chapel where five battles are to be fought rather than to a person: “Than for to do these batayles fyve / At the chapell of Salebraunce” (lines 624–25). See Kooper, Sentimental and Humorous Romances, pp. 127–79.

306–07 L: He bare a shelde of grene / With three lyons of gold shene. N: He bare a schilde of grene / With three lions of golde schene (lines 316–17). Heraldry is part of an elaborate sign system, a means by which knights could be identified even when their faces were covered by a visor and helmet. Colors, animal totems, design features, and other details signify the status, if not the identity, of the knight.

309 L: Of sute lynnell and trappes. N: To suche lengels and trappis (line 319). The sense here seems to be that the device of the lion on William’s shield is replicated on the harness and trappings of his horse, a typical medieval practice.

314 L: And sayde, “Welcome bewfere.” N: And seid, “Welcome, Beaupere.” (line 324). William’s familiar greeting seems to suggest that he knew Lybeaus was coming or perhaps that the young knight’s distinctive physical features lend him a generic identity, thus prompting a remark akin to “hey, good lookin.’”

368 ff. L: short stanza. N: A quarter fille to ground; / Sir Libeous in that stound / In hart he was agast (lines 379–81). William has sliced away a quarter of Lybeaus’s shield. C has a “kantell,” which the MED (cantel) defines as “A chunk, piece, slice.”

382 L: For the love of Mary. N: For the love of Seint Marie (line 395). William’s call to the Virgin, the emblem of mercy, suggests his desperation. The act recalls Gawain’s plea for aid from the icon of Mary painted inside his shield immediately after which Bercilak’s castle appears in SGGK (lines 753–62).

395 L: Thou shalt to Artor wende. N: Thou schalt to Arthour wynde (line 408). Shuffelton suggests that “Arthur acts as both a lordly receiver of tribute and as a recording authority or audience who validates the accomplishments of the hero” (p. 477n411). He cites a discussion in Maddox’s Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes, pp. 14–25.

400 L: Lybeus Disconeus. N: Libeous Disconious (line 413).The iteration of the hero’s name in a line of its own calls attention to its significance. The name is repeated at several points in the poem and again at the end, thus trumping the number of times Gyngelayn is used (in L, four times including the incipit). Here the stress pattern guiding the pronunciation of the name appears to be Lýbe?s Dísc?néus. Contrast with line 423 following.

423 L: Lybeus Disconeus he highte. N: Libious Disconious he hight (line 436). The pronouncement of a name that literally signifies nothing recalls the scene in Homer’s Odyssey in which Odysseus says his name is “nobody” when asked by the Cyclops who has just stolen his sheep and done injury to him. Medieval writers are not likely to have known Homer’s epic poems directly but rather through Virgil’s Aeneid and its retelling of the Trojan War. The Lybeaus poet frequently uses amphibrach (unstressed, stressed, unstressed syllables).

428 L: And eke a well fayre berne. N: And eke a wel faire schene (line 441). The description here is of Lybeaus’s squire, who is otherwise not a prominent player in the English version. In LBD, however, he has a name (Robert) and an identity as a squire. That he is also a fair youth is in keeping with the emphasis on Lybeaus’s level of maturity and good looks. The squire becomes something of a reflection of his knight. The equivalent line in N describes the lady “schene” who accom­panies the knight.

430–31 L: That he hathe made me swere / By his fauchone bryght. N: That he hath made me swore / Uppon his bronde bright (lines 443–44). Chivalric society is dependent upon honor by word as well as deed, hence the importance of oaths. There is also an implicit threat in the falchion/brond.

451 L: His hambrek we will to-rasshe. N: We schul his hauberk of bras (line 464). The manuscripts disagree on what exactly the three knights will do with Lybeaus’s hauberk. They will “to-rasshe” it, which Mills renders “tear to pieces” (L, line 451). P and A have them unlacing his hauberk (“unlace” in both). C does not have this line, and in LI the passage is missing. N’s reading “of bras” makes sense, however. William’s nephews do not accuse Lybeaus of having a hauberk made of an inferior metal (brass); rather the verb “bracen” can mean to seize or grasp, to impale, or to wrap or fasten together. The sense here suggests that the brothers threaten to “of bras,” that is, unravel or break Lybeaus’s chain mail to pieces.

452 ff. L: short stanza. N: also missing. Appears only in C as follows:
Now lete we Wylyam be,
Þat wente yn hys jorne
Toward Artour þe Kyng.
Of þese knyõtes þre
Harkeneþ, lordynges fre,
A ferly fayr fyõtynge.
Þey armede hem full well
Yn yren and yn stel,
With-out ony dwellyng
And leptede on stedes sterne
And after gon y-erne
To sle þat knyõt so yenge.
(lines 430–41)
454 L: Syr Lybeus that yonge knyght. N: Ne Libeous, the gentil knyght (line 467). While L emphasizes age, N emphasizes nobility.

458 L: Gamen and grete solas. N: Game and grete solas (line 471). It is unnecessary to understand the line as indicating, as Mills does, “a night of love-making” (LD, p. 58), a reading recently repeated by Shuffelton (p. 477n474) and Cory Rushton, “Absent Fathers, Unexpected Sons,” p. 145. The innocence of the couple’s mirth is evoked by the final line of the stanza, indicating that the dwarf served them “Of alle that worthi was” (L, line 464; N, line 477). For the argument countering the reading by Mills, see Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” pp. 70–71.

470 L: Rydynge from Carboun. N: Come ridyng fro Karlioun (line 483). As suggested by N and the other versions, this is probably Caerleon, a small town in southeast Wales on the River Usk. According to the NAE, Caerleon is a castle important to Arthurian legend “as the place where Geoffrey of Monmouth has Arthur hold a plenary court, after organizing the conquests made in his first Gallic campaign. Geoffrey may have chosen it simply because it was near his native Monmouth and he had seen the ruins, which in the twelfth century were still conspicuous” (NAE, p. 65).

488 L: That he to-brake Gowers thiegh. In C and L, the eldest brother is Gower; in A, he is Banerer; in P, Baner; and in N, Gawer (LI has a missing folio here). Also, in C, L, A, and P, Lybeaus breaks the eldest brother’s thigh or leg, but in N, Lybeaus breaks his spine: And brake his rigge bone (line 500). In general, N presents Lybeaus as more aggressive and violent in his early formative adventures.

499–501 L: Than loughe this mayden bright / And seide that this yonge knyght / Is chose for champyon. N: Than louge that maide bright / And seid: “This yong knyght / Was wel ychose champioun” (lines 511–13). That Elene has finally been convinced of Lybeaus’s capabilities as a knight is indicated in the sense of relief conveyed in her “loughe.” That women often provide the encouragement for a knight’s achievement can also take the form more traditionally associated with courtly love; the knight becomes a better combatant in arms when he fights for his beloved, at least in theory. Chrétien’s Lancelot provides a study in how much power a lady (i.e., Guenevere) could have over her champion.

518 L: short stanza. N: Sir knyght, bi Seint John (line 527). Most probably this refers to John the Apostle, a privileged witness to special events in the Gospels, such as Christ’s agony in the Garden. John was known for his ardent temper, and his invocation here would be appropriate in the context of Lybeaus’s deadly prowess in his battle with the three nephews of William. See ODOS, p. 262. The oath by Saint John at this point in the text appears only in the N, A, P tradition. See also note to line 731 below.

581–82 L: Thei dight a loge of leves, / With swerdys bryght and browne. N: Thei made a logge of levys / With swerdis bright and broun (lines 593–94).The detail of making a lodge out of leaves and swords is not in LBD, but using their swords Bevis and Terri build a lodge of leaves for the pregnant Josian in Bevis of Hampton (see lines 3621–23).

586 L: And evyr the dwerf can wake. N: And ever the dwarfe gan wake (line 598). N streamlines the narrative here by omitting three lines in the C, L, A, LI, and P accounts, which attribute the dwarf’s inability to sleep for fear of theft: L: That nothinge shulde betake / Here hors aweye with gyle. / For dred he ganne quake (lines 587–89).

597 L: Be God and be Saint Gyle. N: By God and by Seint Gile (line 606). Giles is the patron saint of cripples, lepers, and nursing mothers (see ODOS, p. 211). Saint Giles’s shrine was on the pilgrim’s route to Compostela. He founded a monastery at Saint-Gilles in Provence (ODOS, p. 211).

598–99 L: Lybeous was stoute and fayre / And lepte upon his desteyre. N: Sir Libious was stout and gay, / And lepe on his palfray (line 607–08). In LBD, combat with the giants takes place between Blioblïeris and his companions Elin of Graie, the lord of Saie, and William Salebrant. Also, after their defeat, the lord of Saie with the wounded Elin (William has been killed) returns Clarie, the victim of the giants, to her family. In the ME version, Lybeaus takes Violet to her father himself. In Wace’s Roman de Brut, a giant abducts Eleine, the niece of Arthur’s kinsman, Hoel, and he carries her to Mont St. Michel, intending to rape her; she dies in the attempt. Arthur, Bedevere, and Kay interrupt the giant as he is roasting a wild boar on a spit, and Arthur kills him. (See Wace, Roman de Brut, ed. Weiss, lines 11287–560).The story is retold in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, where the giant not only slays a maiden but feasts on children. He has men and beasts roasting on spits when Arthur approaches him, and is more elaborately described in animal terms: “He grenned as a grayhound with grysly tuskes” (line 1075). See the description later of Maugis, who is also cast as a stereotypical subhuman giant. Although this episode is originally found in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, subsequent versions elaborated his representation of the giant, who is not portrayed in explicitly animal terms despite his animal behavior. Further, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s scene of Arthur to the rescue on Mont St. Michel recalls the biblical story of David and Goliath, where the child David defeats the gargantuan threat to the Hebrew nation. One might say that these implications are suggested in every scene of giant slaying in medieval romance. Other exempla include Bevis of Hampton, Guy of Warwick, Sir Launfal, Sir Degaré, Sir Eglamour of Artois, and SGGK; Spenser’s Orgoglio is the giant whose defeat moves Redcrosse into eventual recognition as a figure for St. George.

603 L: Two gyauntes he sawe there. N: Two jeyauntis he founde at the last (line 611). See Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s discussion of this scene in Of Giants, pp. 73–76.

604–05 L: That one was rede and lothelych, / That other black as eny pyche. N: That one was blak as picche, / That othir rede and lotheliche (lines 613–14). There has been considerable debate about whether the color of knights and the giants they fight refers to skin color or the color of armor. (A special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31 [2001] contains a number of essays that address matters of race and ethnicity pertinent to a reading of otherness.)

607–08 L: The black helde in his arme / A mayde i-clypped in his barme. N: The blake gan holde in barme / A feire maide bi the arme (lines 616–17). There is an allusion here to Arthur’s battle with the rapist giant of Mont St. Michel (see note to lines 598–99 above). In Wace’s Brut (and in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History), the maiden dies during the giant’s assault, and so does not suffer the indignity of rape. In LBD, the rape is interrupted, and the maiden does not die (see lines 707–16, p. 45), as is the case in LD.

609 L: So bryght as blossom on brere. N: Bright so rose in brere (line 618). This detail alludes to the flower (rose) on a branch in springtime, and evokes conventional female beauty. Although brief, it gestures to the rhetorical effictio, an elaborate description of (noble) feminine pulchritude consisting of stereotypical details arranged from head to toe (see Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s Poetria Nova). Here the line metonymically suggests the conventional beauty of Violet. Later a similar phrase describes Lybeaus's mother in N: “Hur rode was rede so rys” (2234).

615 L: For some man shuld it wit. N: For sum man schulde it wete (line 621). This appears to be a legal term equivalent to “witness.” In English law, witnessing a crime in the making required the witness to call attention to the deed by raising the hue and cry. The maiden’s prayer to “Mary mylde” appears to be gender specific and notable in that way. As patron saint of childbirth, the Virgin Mary seems an odd choice, but, given the sexual nature of the threat and the Virgin’s traditional function as mediatrix, perhaps all the more understandable.

626 L: Hit is no childes game. N: It is no childis game (line 635). According to the author of Ratis Raving, a child’s game could include gathering flowers, building houses with sticks, making sailing ships with any available materials, making and dressing dolls or “poppets,” and playing at sword fighting (among others). Many children’s games were enacted in imitation of adult activities, including “war games” played by boys. (See Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children, especially chapter 5.) Since Lybeaus is still a “child” in terms of his chivalric experience, if not his specific age, depending on which version of the narrative one is reading, the reference here is significant. In L, C, LI, and P this line forms part of Lybeaus’s speech. In N and A, however, the fearful observation that two of these grim foes pose a threat belongs to the narrator, not the hero. The N, A Lybeaus, in other words, appears more courageous and determined and less timid. Also noteworthy is the proverbial nature of the expression. According to Whiting C221 (p. 83), this line and variations on it appear in several ME narratives, including Otuel and Roland, Gregorius, Octavian, Tottenham, and old Januarie’s lines in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, CT (IV[(E)] 1530–31): “I warne yow wel, / it is no childes pley / To take a wyf,” and Le Morte Darthur. The use of a related proverb in line 1683 (L) to describe how one of Lybeaus’s opponents rocks in his saddle after their combat emphasizes the connection between chivalric readiness and maturity.

643–44 L: And besought swete Jhesus / Helpe Lybeus Disconeus. N: And bisoughte Jhesus, / That he wolde helpe Libeus Disconyous (lines 649–50). That Elene prays to Jesus for aid in helping Lybeaus underscores the specificity of the request for divine intervention. Here Mary is not asked to play her traditional role of mediatrix but rather her Son is called upon to intervene. When envisioned in his role as the sword-wielding apocalyptic Christ, this seems an appropriate choice for a knight.

646–47 L: The rede gyaunte smote thore / To Sir Lybeous withe the bore. N: The rede geaunt smote thore / To Libeous, with the wilde bore (lines 652–53). Mills (LD, 218n616–18) links this idea of the giant striking with a roasted boar on a spit to Wace, where a giant is roasting a char de porc; he sees the passage as perhaps inspiring this event in LD.

648 L: As wolfe oute of wede. N: As wolfe that wolde of wede (line 654). The poet deploys similes rather infrequently, and the repetition of this particular phrase at line 986 in L calls attention to that fact. It may also be calling attention to a trope of the wild beast as a thematic concern of the poem, as well as a reality of medieval life in England. According to a relevant entry in The Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases, “there were enough wolves in England during the reign of King John (1199–1216) for a bounty of 5s to be offered for their catching and killing. There are many AS placenames which indicate the presence of wolves, e.g. Woolley in Yorkshire [< wolves’ + OE leah=wood] and Woolmer in Hampshire, [< wolves’ + OE mere=lake]. In 1209 two colts were killed and eaten by wolves in Hampshire. There are also sufficient records of wolves being caught in the king’s forests to make it unsurprising that during the 1130s there were full-time royal wolf hunters, with a pack of two dozen hounds and also greyhounds. A wolf-catcher in Worcestershire in the early 13c was paid 3s a year. No records survive to show how many, if any, he caught, or whether indeed there were any wolves left in that part of England. Certainly, wolves were killing deer in the Forest of Dean in 1290s [sic]. Wolves appear to have survived in England until the 17c, and longer in Scotland” (ed. Corèdon and Williams, p. 300).

657 ff. L: short stanza. N: The bore was ful hote than; / On Sir Libeous the grece ran (lines 670–71). The detail of the hot grease causing a wound or pain as well as the extended description of the red giant reaching a height of fifteen feet appears in the N, A, and P tradition only (it does not occur in LI). Mills (LD, p. 218n657) compares this scene to one in the First Continuation of Perceval (ed. W. Roach), where a knight strikes Sir Kay with a bird that has been roasting over the fire (see lines 9373–75).

657 L: To quyte the gyaunte his mede. N: To yelde the geaunt his mede (line 663). The exchange of blows is construed as payback and retribution, literal acts reversed by the notion of redemption. Coming on the heels of a plea for rescue, this line appears to be ironic.

662 L: A tronchon oute he laught. N: A tronchon up he caught (line 680). The giant demonstrates his strength by pulling a fully grown tree out of the ground. As he lifts it to deliver a blow, Lybeaus recognizes an opportunity to prune the limb by which the giant just uprooted the tree.

673 L: In Frensshe as it is ifounde. N: In Frensche tale as it is found (line 691). Although a convention of romance is to acknowledge a French source, whether or not it is the actual source, this is probably an allusion rather than an explicit reference to LBD. Shuffelton, who presumes Chestre to be the author of LD, comments: “Though this phrase suggests that Chestre is working directly from a French source, several factors limit the certainty of this interpretation. Several other manuscripts preserve entirely different readings of this line, and it is a common formula used by many other Middle English romances” (p. 477n699).

674–75 L: He that he gave the fyrste wounde, / He servyd hym so aplyght. N: Tille that othir he went that stound / And servid him aplight (lines 692–93). The idea of a “first wound” appears only in L. Mills (LD, p. 219n643–44) notes that N (C, A, P, LI) makes more sense here than L, which contradicts the earlier slaying of the black giant by suggesting that he had only been wounded by “the fyrste wound” (line 674). Mills argues for the superiority of L, however, by noting the repetition of the tag line in N, lines 690 and 693, “in þat stound” and “that stound,” which suggests a scribal error of repetition. He also observes that “Chestre . . . [was] uncon­cerned to accommodate statements made in one part of his work with those found at another.” The possibility of a scribal error with tags, however, does not invalidate the more sensible reading of N (C, A, P, LI).

676–77 L: And then toke the hedis two / And bare the mayden thoo. N: Tho he toke hedis tway / And bare ham to that may (lines 694–95). Lybeaus displays the severed trophy heads to a grateful maiden before sending them to Arthur’s court. Cohen’s comment is worth noting here: “Following the structure received from the David and Goliath story, the display of the conquered giant’s head is often in its simplest terms part of the rite de passage from boyhood to manhood, from mistakes and potential ambiguity into the certainties of stable masculinity” (Of Giants, p. 73).

690 L: His name is Syr Anctour. This line in which Violet names her father is missing in N. Mills’s note on Anctour is useful: “The name of this character recalls the Antore who in AM 9751 meets his death at the hands of giants, but in his function he more closely resembles the aged father of Enide (E 375 in passim). The corre­sponding figure in BD [LBD, i.e., Li Biaus Descouneüs] is not characterized at all (see 892), but in Platin’s Giglan he is described as ancien, and it seems possible that the name in LD [LD, i.e., Lybeaus Desconus] may have arisen from a contracted form of the adjective anci(e)nor (? *ancīor l. ivv) in the OF source. But whatever the provenance of the name it was sufficiently unfamiliar to be replaced by that of Arthur in two of the less reliable texts of LD. . . . This king is also associated with the scene in the version given of it in the Didot Perceval, since the giant there waits for the girl’s father to set out for Arthur’s court, before abducting her” (p. 219n660). According to the entry in the AND, Antor (with variations of spelling including Antore, Antour, Anton, and Entor) is “Arthur’s foster-father, and the father of Kay, in the Prose and Vulgate Merlins, the Didot-Perceval, and Tennyson. Robert de Boron seems to have originated the character . . . [where] Antor raised Arthur after Merlin presented him with the child. . . . His character appears in the Post-Vulgate and Malory as Ector” (p. 28). J. D. Bruce suggests that the origin of the name lies in a possible corruption of Arthur, “given the literary tradition of naming children after their foster fathers” (AND, p. 28). As Shuffelton notes, “A character with a similar name (Antor, Antour) appears in several Arthurian romances as Arthur’s foster father and the father of Kay the Seneschal. See The Erle of Tolous (Shuffelton item 19), line 853 and note. Perhaps the name is meant to evoke loose associations of benevolent paternity” (p. 477n716). The name of Violet’s father in L is Anctour (line 690) or Antore (C, line 3660), Anter (A, line 716), Antory (LI, line 372), or Arthore (P, line 723 fol. 161v. [Cooper line 72]). The omission in N appears to be an error because later reference is made to Lybeaus donning armor, “That the erle of Auntouris was” (N, line 804). Only C preserves a stanza in which the earl offers Lybeaus his daughter in marriage, which Lybeaus refuses. Mills (LD, p. 220n688–99) argues for the authenticity of this stanza on the basis of content and rhyme scheme. However, in LBD, the maid’s name is Clarie, and she is taken back to her unnamed father’s castle by the surviving nephews of Blioblïeris (the events are different). The passage authenticated by Mills, in other words, may not be authentic at all. It does not appear in the original and exists only in C. Mills (p. 221n688–99) locates the origin of the offer of Violet to Lybeaus in the episode of the gerfalcon in Erec et Enide, in which Erec expresses his wish to marry the host’s daughter, Enide.

691 L: They clepen me Violet. N: Mi name is Violette (line 709). In a scene that recalls the beginning of the poem, the maiden is asked to identify herself. Unlike Lybeaus she is able to name her father (except in N), and she describes him as “of riche fame” (L, line 686) The name of the lady is unusual, and the only other reference appears to be Violet the Bold, “one of many ladies at King Arthur’s court to fail a chastity test involving a magic goblet” (AND, p. 488). Gerbert de Montreuil, who wrote the continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, has a romance called Roman de la Violette (c. 1220), where the heroine has a birthmark resembling a violet. Jean Froissart wrote La plaidoirie de la rose et de la violette, an allegorical debate between two courtly ladies, one of whom is named Violette.

698 L: Oute of the busshes con sprynge. N: Out of a busche gan sprynge (line 716). The description of Violet’s abduction recalls the abduction of Guenevere by Meleagant, though here it is construed as an ambush done without much premeditation. Mills notes that “Chestre’s account seems to have been influenced by the later scene at the Îlle d’Or, in which he tells how another black giant (Maugrys) besieges a city to gain possession of a lady (lines 1243–51): this modification makes it seem strange that Vyolette should wander about, so freely and unsuspectingly, on her own” (LD, p. 220n661–66). The idea that a giant lurks in the bushes conventionally associates him with rural, uncivilized, even nonhuman behaviors and values. See the description of Maugis/Maugus below.

713–14 L: To Kynge Arthour in present, / With mekyll glee and game. N: To Kinge Arthour, in present, / With moche gle and game (lines 731–32). The severed heads are sent to the court as proof of Lybeaus’s prowess and growing reputation. The “glee and game” here indicate something of a victory celebration.

717 ff. L: short stanza. N: also missing. The passage is supplied here by C:
The Erl Antore also blyue
Profrede hys doftyr hym to wyue:
Vyolette that may;
And kasteles ten and fiue
And all after hys lyue
Hys lond to haue for ay.
Than seyde Lybeaus Desconos,
“Be the loue of swete Jhesus,
Naught wyue yet Y ne may;
J haue for to wende
Wyth thy mayde so hende.
And therfore, haue good day!”
(lines 688–99)
719 L: Yave him full riche mede. N: Gave Sir Libeous to mede (line 737). The earl rewards Lybeaus with armor and a horse tested “in turnament and in fyght” (L, line 723). These items are notable for their material value, but also stand as an indication of a formal recognition of Lybeaus’s status as a knight. See note to line 690 above.

727 ff. L: The adventure of the knight with the gerfalcon begins here. Compare N, 745 ff. In LBD, the adventure with Otis precedes the gerfalcon story. Renaut’s source for his version of the story is the sparrowhawk episode in Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec et Enide. In LBD, Helie, Robert the Squire, and the dwarf spy a castle, Becleus, and on their journey, they come upon a maiden (Margerie) whose lover-knight has been killed. She explains to them the conditions set by the lord of the castle, Giflet (French Giflés), son of Do: any maiden who dares take the beautiful sparrowhawk that sits on a golden perch must have a knight willing to claim her to be the most beautiful maiden of all. He will then be challenged by the lord of the castle. The party proceeds to where the sparrowhawk sits, and Li Biaus asks Margerie to take it. The lord of the castle appears with his beloved, Rose Espanie; he defends her position as the most beautiful of women, despite the fact that she is “ugly and wrinkled” (LBD, line 1727). Li Biaus defeats him. In LD, the hero’s motive for the challenge lies neither in revenge for past personal insult, as in Erec and Enide, nor to avenge the wrong committed against a maiden, as in LBD, but in Lybeaus’s personal sense of adventure, a motive criticized by the dwarf. Margerie and Robert disappear in LD, and decapitation becomes the loser’s reward. Mills (LD, pp. 220–21n.L 750–53) contends that decapitation, which makes the episode more forbidding, has been transferred from Renaut’s later episode with Malgiers.

731 L: Suche sawe he never none. N: Suche sawe he never none (line 749). Although opulent and marvelous castles are common in romance, Lybeaus’s lack of chivalric experience and his early life in the woods away from Arthur’s court help to explain his awestruck response, “Be Seynt John!” (L, line 733; N, line 751).

744 L: He hathe done crye and grede. N: He had do crye and grede (line 762). The phrase suggests an official and public announcement, here of a challenge to combat.

746 L: A gerfawkon, white as swanne. N: A jerefawken as white as swane (line 764). Possibly the white gerfalcon of Iceland (MED), a large hawk used for hunting and much prized. This hunting bird is a substantial reward for what amounts to a beauty contest between Lybeaus’s lady and the lady of his opponent, Jeffron. Like people, birds of prey were often classified in a hierarchical system. According to Richard Almond, “The basic division in the manual is between hawks of the tower and hawks of the fist, which conveniently corresponds largely to the falcons (Falconidae) and the hawks (Accipitridnae). The short-winged hawks were more popular with the French whereas the long-winged hawks, generically falcons, were more favoured in England. The latter birds include the peregrine, merlin and hobby, all of which were, and still are, used by falconers to fly at live quarry. Roy Modus’s division differs somewhat from the basic classification. He places the peregrine falcon, lanner, saker and hobby as hawks of the tower, whereas the goshawk, sparrow hawk, gyrfalcon and merlin are classed as hawks of the fist” (Medieval Hunting, p. 42). This episode of the gerfalcon, while in LBD, is likely to have derived from Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec et Enide.

754 ff. L: short stanza. N: Ther stont on every cornelle (line 773). Mills translates C’s “karnell” — “Ther stant yn ech a karnell” (line 737)—as battlement. The word means corner or angle, or the front of a building (MED).

757 L: Bi God and Saint Michelle. N: By God and bi Seint Mighelle (line 776). This probably refers to Michael, the avenging archangel and principal combatant against the dragon/devil of Apocalypse. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Arthurian themes of this narrative, his most famous shrine is Mont Saint Michel, celebrated as a place of divine judgment in The Alliterative Morte Arthur, where, according to the ODOS, “a Benedictine abbey was founded in the 10th century” (p. 349).

761 L: A lemman two so bright. N: A lemman two so bright (line 780). This beauty contest motif is also present in Sir Launfal when Tryamour and her ladies are compared to Guenevere (Gwenore) who has insulted Launfal and made a false accusation, thereby necessitating a trial. Because Launfal has broken his pledge of discretion and silence to Tryamour, he is no longer able to call upon her for aid. The outcome of the trial will depend on whether his claim of a lady more beautiful than Guenevere is true.

768 L: Jeffron le Freudous. N: Geffron le Frediens (line 787). All manuscripts have trouble with this name; C: Gyffroun le Fludous (line 772) or Flowdous (line 751); L: Jeffron le Freudous (line 768) or Freudys (line 789); LI: Jeffron le Frondous (fol. 8v); A: Gefferon lefrondeus or lefrendeus (fol. 46r); P: Giffron la ffrandous (fol. 162r) , and Cooper, line 802, has Giffron La ffraudeus. In LBD, the knight’s name is Giflés, li fius Do (line 1805). Mills notes that “Gyffroun is in himself one of the most polite and reasonable of all the hero’s antagonists” (LD, p. 221n785–89). While Jeffron is clearly more chivalrous than the other antagonists, “polite” and “reasonable” are perhaps exaggerations.

785 L: That Er Aunctours was. N: That the erle of Auntouris was (line 804). This refers to the earl Antore mentioned earlier in L, C, and A as the father of Violet, but omitted in N. The bestowing of the earl’s armor upon Lybeaus, however, is mentioned at N, lines 736–38, so N’s omission of the earlier passage is likely an error. See note to line 690.

794 L: Come prickande with pryde. N: Come prikyng as prins in pride (line 813). The resonance of this with Spenser’s Redcrosse Knight, who goes pricking across the plain at the beginning of Book 1 of the Faerie Queene, is worth noting, though there is no evidence that Spenser knew LD. To “prick” means to spur a horse to move at a quicker pace, but also connotes “distress,” “grief,” “goading,” or “urging to action” as used in the devotional work, The Prick of Conscience.

805 L: Ther is no woman so white. N: That woman is none so white (line 824). The color gestures to the conventional effictio, the formal rhetorical description of ideal beauty, where “white” signals the delicacy of a woman’s skin rather than its color. Thus the line means “that no woman is as beautiful.”

817 L: In Cordile cité with sight. N: short stanza. The site is probably Cardiff as is the case with Cardyle in L, line 830. Variant spellings are: Cardelof, Cardull, Karlof, Cardeuyle, Kardeuyle, Kardill, Karlill, Cardigan. Shuffelton speculates that the city is “[p]ossibly Carlisle, in northern England,” but, as Mills argues, the Welsh city of Cardiff is more likely (Shuffelton, p. 478n844; LD, p. 222n800).

837 L: And hit the mayde Elyne. N: And seide to maide Elyne (line 853). Lybeaus’s election of Elene to the role of substitute maiden differs from source and cognate tales. Chrétien’s Erec selects his host’s daughter, Enide, whom he later marries, as his fair maiden to champion in the contest. LBD has the wronged Margerie claim the sparrowhawk for him so that he can avenge her. Lybeaus, however, has neither love nor justice as a motive here; his is a subterfuge that allows him to meet his opponent in combat and utilize chivalry to promote himself and his reputation.

850 L: Thow doste a savage dede. N: Nowe is this a wondir dede (line 866). The wise dwarf in L reminds the still-churlish Lybeaus that this is not what chivalry is supposed to be, whereas in N he reminds Lybeaus that he is not evincing appropriate adult (chivalric) male behavior. Using ladies as tournament prizes undermines the central tenets of chivalry, that is, to honor ladies and fight on their behalf, and to champion their causes, especially if they involve unlawful captivity. This is the damsel-in-distress motif so prevalent in Arthurian romance. This stanza is not in C. N and A draw attention to inexperience and youth, L, to churlishness and madness (madd hede, line 853).

854 L: As lorde that will be lorne. N: As man that wolde be ylore (line 870). Despite the apparent similarity between L’s “lorne” and N’s “ylore,” the two words are different. L’s “lorne” means “lost,” as the dwarf chastizes Lybeaus for acting mad, as someone who is either “lost” mentally or a suicide (running toward certain death). N, however, alters the charge of madness to childishness; the dwarf accuses Lybeaus of juvenile behavior, acting as a schoolboy who has yet to learn something of value.

857 L: And in Bedlem was borne. N: That we ne come him bifore (line 873). L’s reference to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ Child points to an archetypal event that underscores the religious ideals of chivalry, that is, humility and obedience to one’s Lord, even when He appears in the body of an infant. This will stand in stark contrast to the necromancers depicted later. Lybeaus’s response here indicates his misunderstanding of these chivalric ideals (much akin to Perceval’s early misunderstanding of the purpose of the Grail quest) and his sensitivity to the imputation of his prowess.

861 L: The mayde Ellyne, also tighth. N: That maide feire and fre (line 877). Mills (LD, p. 222n844–91) notes similarities between this description of Elene and Dame Tryamour in Sir Launfal. The description of Elene’s attire, ornamentally beautified with precious metals, jewels, and furs, indicates the wealth supporting Elene, perhaps provided by her lady, the queen of north Wales, also known as the Lady of Synadoun. The rest of Elene’s attire reflects the “best” of the “empire” she represents, that is, North Wales. L adds to her apparel “a robe of samyte” (line 862), a costly fabric that enhances her appearance even further.

885–87 L: He bare ... gold the bordure. N: He bare ... golde was the border, ryngid with floris (lines 901–03). Although the details differ, both texts offer a depiction of Jeffron’s heraldic device; heraldry and its emblems were an important means by which identity could be ascertained when a knight was unknown and his face was covered by a visor. The description of the shield, like the description of the ladies’ attire, typically signals allegiance to a court and kinship group. Its obvious display of material wealth suggests the high standing of the knight in his relation to the court. See notes to lines 93 and 254 above.

898–99 L: A lady proude in pryde, / Iclothed in purpyll palle. N: A lady ful of pride, / Yclothid in purpul palle (lines 914–15). The description of Jeffron’s lady differs somewhat from the description of Elene. Jeffron’s lady wears purple, while Elene wears white. In her edition of LBD, Karen Fresco adds that “purple was a rare and costly fabric, probably made out of silk imported from Tyre and Alexandria. It came in several colors and seems to have been worn by royalty. In LBD only Blonde Esmeree, a princess, wears popre” (p. 393n3279). In LD there is also an elaborate description of the lady’s rosy complexion and her blond hair, “as gold wyre shynynge bryght.” Blond hair is considered desirable in ladies of medieval romance in general, but in the French version hair color is particularly important as indicated by the name of LBD’s Lady of Synadoun, that is, la Blonde Esmeree. For a classical medieval description of idealized female beauty, see Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s Poetria Nova, pp. 36–37.

912 L: Hir browes also blacke as sylke threde. N: Hur browys as silken threde (line 928). Well-shaped, clearly separated, and darkly colored eyebrows were considered a sign of beauty, as were gray eyes, milky white complexion, and an elongated “swyre,” that is, neck. A woman’s eyebrows, if not separated but rather as one continuous growth across the forehead, were considered a sign of sexual promiscuity. There is an interesting contrast to be made with the later description of the eyebrows of the Saracen giant Maugis.

930–31 L: Ellyne the messangere / Ne were but a lawnder. N: Elyne the mesynger / Nas but a lavender (lines 946–47). When it becomes apparent that Elene cannot win this beauty contest, an unflattering comparison to a laundrywoman ensues. In Erec et Enide, the sparrowhawk contest over the most beautiful woman resides less in the relative merits of each woman and more in the power of love to influence the judgment of lovers. Renaut takes this idea to an extreme in that Giflet’s damsel is truly ugly, so that there is no real contest between her and Margerie; instead, Renaut’s narrator marvels at how “love could so disturb his judgment . . . for Love makes the ugliest woman seem a beauty”(lines 1731,1734). In LD, by contrast, the contest is real, and onlookers declare that Elene, though fair, is much less beautiful than Jeffron’s maiden. Unlike Jeffron (or Erec or Giflet), however, Lybeaus is not in love; only pride motivates him here. This is the first of two or three episodes that project weakness or bad judgment by the hero (see note to line 837 above). The mistaken motives are also marked by Lybeaus’s severely violent defeat of Jeffron, who has his “rigge tobrake” (N, line 1006; L, line 990, “Geffrounes backe to-brake”), the same excessive result of violence inflicted upon one of William’s nephews earlier, so that he has to be carried to town on his shield. Shuffelton notes that “In comparison to other versions of this motif, the outcome here is surprising. Usually the hero’s lady is judged more beautiful, prompting a combat to settle the dispute. Though Elyne has been described as bryght, schene, and sembly (lines 120–32), perhaps her beauty is downplayed here so that Lybeaus’s attempt to win the falcon seems all the more rash” (p. 478n953).

944 L: Magré thyne hede, hore (so, too; C, line 915). N: compare line 960. In agree­ment with L, C, has “Maugre thyne heed hore” (line 915) and LI, “Mawgre thy berd hore” (Cooper line 513; fol. 8v), whereas in agreement with N, P has “Maugre thy head indeed” (Cooper line 978; fol. 163r) and A, Thoff thou be wroth therforn (line 971); LI, C, and L imply that Geffron is an older or an old man, which does not make sense here.

951–52 L: Her shaftis brosten asondre, / Her dyntis ferden as thonder. N: Here schaftis brake in sondir, / Hare dyntis fyrde as dondir (lines 967–68). The sound and fury signifies the intensity of this confrontation between the brash young upstart and his experienced opponent.

960 L: This yonge frely freke. N: So this yonge freke (line 976). The description here likely is more positive than it appears to be to modern readers since “frely freke,” according to the MED, denotes the fair, noble, freeborn knight rather than the more negatively construed modern word for one who resides outside the norm in terms of appearance or behavior, that is, “freak.”

967–68 L: As Alysaunder or Kyng Arthur, / Lawncelot or Syr Percevalle. N: As Alexaundre or Kyng Arthour, / Launselake or Persevale (lines 983–84). The comparison to these particular figures, all of whom had similar childhood experiences and a distinctive fearlessness in combat, underscores one of the central themes of romance, that is, that even those fairly unknown can acquire a legitimate place in the annals of literary history, if not history itself. The enfances of LD is often compared to the enfances of Sir Perceval of Galles; both are examples of the fair unknown motif and both men come to Arthur’s court knowing little of chivalry. That all these historic icons are products of a traumatic or atypical childhood appears to be a prerequisite of transformation in narratives of heroic triumph.

986 L: As wolfe that wolde at wede. N: As a man that wolde of wede (line 1002). The shift from wolf to man signals recognition of a proverbial expression and alters the more typical and negative aphorism of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (See note for line 648.)

1000 L: Was borne home on his shelde. N: Geffron in his schilde / Was ybore out of the filde (lines 1015–16). Carrying bodies off the field using a shield as a stretcher is an ancient practice, maybe one reason shields were designed to be as large as possible. See also note for line 488.

1003 L: By a knyght that hight Cadas. N: Bi a knyght that hight Clewdas (line 1019). This may refer to Cadoc the king who “fought in a Castle of Maidens tournament, where he was defeated by Gawain’s son Guinglain” in Renaut’s version (AND, p. 93, s.v. “Cadoc"). In A, this character is named Lucas; other variants are Gludas (C), Caudas (LI), and Chaudas (P).

1011–13 L: He hathe sent me . . . he fyrst byganne. N: He hath sende me . . . Sithe he furst bigan (lines 1027–29). Arthur’s recognition of Lybeaus’s deeds vis-à-vis the “trophies” he sends back to the court points to the central tenet of feudal relations, that is, the king’s duty to reward his knights and the knight’s duty to fight on behalf of the king. Lybeaus has fought, at this point, William, his three nephews, two giants, and Jeffron: seven opponents in four battles.

1019 L: Kardill towne. N: Karlille toune (line 1035). This refers to Carlisle, the chief residence of King Arthur, or perhaps Cardiff. See note for line 817.

1034–35 L: For youre frely sale: / Hit blowis motis jolelye. N: Fer yere ferly falle! / Sir Otis hit blewe, de la Ile (lines 1050–51). The dwarf, presumably speaking to Elene, recognizes the sound of the horn as coming from the vicinity of Synadoun, thus signaling the company’s progress. This marks the beginning of the episode with Sir Otis de Lile (or de la Ile), once a loyal servant of the Lady of Synadoun, who has since abandoned her to her fate. As Mills notes, this name is equivalent to Orguillous de la Lande, the huntsman knight of Renaut’s LBD, line 1486, whose name translates to “Proud Knight of the Glade.” In LBD, the story of the hunter (li venere) and the brachet takes place before the adventure of the sparrowhawk. Clarie, the maiden rescued from giants by Li Biaus, catches up with him and his party. They spy a stag followed by hunting dogs with a small brachet trailing behind. Clarie picks up the brachet, saying that she will take the dog to her lady, when the hunter rides up and demands the return of his brachet. In this version, Li Biaus attempts to persuade Clarie to return the brachet, but she refuses, and at this point the hunter conspires to take the dog back by force. One might compare this situation to Malory’s Torre and Pellinore, a section in which knights go out to claim hounds or deer that belong to someone else, resulting in deaths and destruction that call into question the tenets of chivalry. In LD, the hero seems more at fault for having given Elene the brachet himself and therefore he is completely responsible for refusing to return it to Otis, once more placing himself in the wrong. In LBD, Orguillous de la Lande attacks Li Biaus alone, whereas in LD, Sir Otis later waylays Lybeaus with a host of knights; this proves to be his most difficult combat yet, one in which he is seriously wounded. Mills (p. 226n1009) points out that the name in LD may derive from Duke Otus, who in Guy of Warwick is Guy’s entrenched enemy.

1040 L: West into Wyralle. N: West into Wirale (line 1056). This refers to what was known as the Wilderness of Wirral, a forested area northwest of Liverpool, next to Wales. Gawain finds himself in the “wyldrenesse of Wyrale” (line 701) in SGGK.

1042 L: They sawe a rache com renynge. N: Ther come a rache rennyng (line 1058). Unlike the greyhound bred to hunt by sight, this breed of dog hunts by scent.

1047 L: He was of all coloures. N: For he was of alle colours gay (line 1063). Although N indicates the variegated colors of the canine, “of alle colours gay,” missing from this short stanza are the lines that complete the description, “That man may se of floures / Bytwene Mydsomer and Maye” (L, lines 1048–49).
As Mills (LD, p. 227n1021–23) suggests, the description of the brachet may reflect the multicolored Peticrewe in Sir Tristrem: “He was rede, grene and blewe” (line 2404), although in that narrative the animal is not a hunting dog but a lap dog presented to Duke Gilan of Wales by one of the goddesses of Avalon. The bell around its neck was thought to bring happiness to the owner of the dog, hence Isolde, in her efforts to be as unhappy as Tristan, rips it off. Lybeaus’s chasing of the diminutive canine recalls a similar episode in Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, only there the attention-getting whelp leads the dreamer to a grieving knight (lines 386–449). References to this particular breed of dog appear also in other notable ME romances (see Lupack, Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem, pp. 224–25, lines 2399–2420).

1048 L: That man may se of floures. This line is missing in N, but the sense survives there without it, namely that the many colors are those nature brings forth between Midsummer and May (see below).

1049 L: Bytwene Mydsomer and Maye. N: Bitwene Mydsomer and May (line 1064). Mid­summer, usually in June, marked a time of festive celebration of the longest day of the year.

1083 L: Quod Sir Otis de Lile. N: Quod Sir Otis de la Ile (line 1098). Mills identifies this name as equivalent to l’Orguillous de la Lande, the huntsman knight of LBD, line 1486 (Mills, LD, p. 236; Fresco, p. 88). The name may also refer to the treacherous Duke Otoun in The Stanziac Guy of Warwick. In A, this character is named Otys de la Byle. See note to line 1034 above.

1088 L: Chorle. N: Chourle (line 1103). The use of churl here suggests Lybeaus’s own lack of training in the finer points of courtesy. He resorts to name-calling to which Otis responds with verbal indignation and an identification of just who his parents were, that is, “My fader an erle was . . . the countesse of Carlehille, / Forsothe, was my dame” (lines 1092–93). Shuffelton notes that “Rate’s spelling of the insult, carle, and the place name, Carlehyll has created a little joke here, perhaps inspired by another Middle English romance, Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle” (p. 478n1120).

1108 L: Rode home to his toure. N: Rode home in that schoure (line 1123). N’s phrase is a variation of “a god schoure,” that is, quickly.

1117–18 L: Though he were the grymmer grome / Than Launcelet de Lake. N: Though he were also stronge / As Launcelet de Lake (lines 1132–33). The comparison here is interesting, since Lancelot is known as much for his fierce loyalty and devotion to Guenevere as he is for his fierceness in battle. So too the term refers to Lybeaus’s immaturity. The MED defines grome as ranging in meaning from “infant” to “boy” to “young man” as well as social ranking: “A man of low station or birth; also, a worthless person.”

1146 L: arblast. N: areblast (line 1161). This is a synonym for a crossbow as well as a term for the missile discharged from the weapon.

1153 L: This is the devyll Satan. N: Here comyth the devil Satan (line 1168). Another example of misidentification and name-calling; this name is often used in romance to describe giants, heretics, and pagan others.

1161 L: For twelve knyghtis, all prest. N: Twelve knyghtis prest (line 1176). There is a distinct imbalance between opposing sides here.

1179–80 L: Lybeous slowe of hem three, / The fourthe begon to flee. N: And four awey gan fle (line 1194). N omits a line here and changes the text so that four flee rather than the fourth.

1183 L: And his sonnes foure. N: And his sonnys fowre (line 1197). Mills notes that “the huntsman’s sons are not mentioned in any of the cognates,” and he cites a similar passage in Bevis of Hampton: “Two ffosters he smote adowne / Wyth the dynte of hys tronchon / vi he slewe at dyntys thre / And odur vi away can flee” (LD, p. 229n1153–58). Shuffelton observes that “The appearance of Sir Otys’s sons is not otherwise mentioned, and seems an afterthought on the part of Chestre” (p. 478n1210).

1186 L: He one agaynes fyve. N: He alone ayenst fyve (line 1200). The imbalance between oppositions heightens the degree of aggression and makes the next line — Faughte as he were wode — necessity rather than the hyperbole typical of chivalric romance. As the scene suggests, getting into a state of battle frenzy enables Lybeaus to overcome the inequity. He is even able to kill three horses, one stroke each. In this instance, Lybeaus does not balk at being outnumbered, as he did when faced with two giants.

1194 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 1180 ff.

1202 L: Bothe mayle and plate. N: Throwe helme and basnet plate (line 1216). That Lybeaus is able to cut through chain mail or helmet as well as steel-plated armor suggests his extraordinary strength. Just as Havelok the Dane demonstrates his manpower in feats of strength that later enable him to reclaim his patrimony and avenge the death of his sisters, so too Lybeaus demonstrates his martial prowess. Havelok, unlike the others, goes through a number of contests literally designed to test his strength as a man, not as a knight. He is also described as taller than other men.

1217 L: Under a chesteyne tree. N: Undir a chesteyne tre (line 1231). As Mills aptly observes “the submission of one character to another under a (chestnut) tree occurs in a number of romances. Sometimes the dominating character possesses supernatural powers, as in Sir Gowther. . . where a fiend begets a child on a lady; sometimes both characters are human, as in Le Bone Florence” (LD, p. 230n1189–94). Other romances in which this motif may be found include The Erle of Tolous, Bevis of Hampton, and Sir Orfeo.

1247 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1233 ff.

1263 L: Kynge Arthur had gode game. N: Kyng Arthour had good game (line 1274). Arthur’s delight in storytelling prior to sitting down to a meal is extended to his reception of prisoners. The submission and recounting of the narrative and the knight responsible for the defeat contributes to Lybeaus’s burgeoning reputation, a necessity for a knight who needs to prove himself. Lybeaus’s growing list of credentials convinces the king that he has chosen wisely. This is the first instance where Arthur and the court recognize Lybeaus as an accomplished knight of the Round Table.

1269–71 L: Nowe rest we here a while / Of Sir Otys de Lyle / And tell we forthe oure talis. N: Rest we nowe a while / Of Sir Otys de la Ile / And telle we of othir talis (lines 1280–82). As is typically found in tail-rhyme romance, these lines mark a transition from one episode to the next.

1273–74 L: And sey awntours the while / And Irlande and in Walys. N: In Cornewaile and in Walis (line 1285). Requisite adventures for the aspiring knight are suggested here. Although crossing the Irish Sea is not a formidable challenge to the resourceful knight, the link between these two Celtic kingdoms is a feature of Arthurian literature, particularly the Tristan thread. Both N and A place Lybeaus’s adventures in Cornwall and Wales, whereas P has him in England and Wales. L and C place him in Ireland and Wales. A journey to Ireland would take Lybeaus out of his way, and there is no such itinerary in any of the sources. Mills, following Schofield, sees the reference to Ireland as a misunderstanding of a source passage, suggesting that C and L represent the author’s line (LD, p. 231n1222–24). N, A, and P, however, place Lybeaus within the conventional settings for Arthurian adventures and offer a more reasonable and typical area of sojourn rather than an extended period of quest such an Irish journey would require. See also the note for line 1479 below, where N also reduces the amount of time Lybeaus spends with Dame Amoure / Diamour. These are examples of N (and often A, P) revising or correcting the excesses of the other manuscripts’ details (see Mills, “Mediaeval Reviser”).

1276 L: Whan fenell hangeth al grene. N: Whan levys and buskis ben grene (line 1287). L’s specific reference to fennel refers to a perennial plant described in one of the quotations in the MED as having a “double manner of kynde, wilde and tame” (p. 487). Although less specific, N, too, marks a shift in the narrative with a shift in seasons, when leaves and bushes were green; see Malory’s opening of “The Knight of the Cart” and “Slander and Strife” in Le Morte Darthur.

1280 L: And notis of the nyghtyngale. N: Of the nyghtingale (line 1291). Nightingales have long been associated with pivotal moments in romance narrative. In Marie de France’s Laüstic, the songbird provides an excuse for the lovers to communicate at night. When the jealous husband discovers the ruse, he kills the bird and throws its body at his wife, staining her white chemise with blood. In Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (Book 2, line 918), the nightingale sings outside Criseyde’s window as she dreams of the white eagle who steals away her heart. There the mirage is ominous in that it recalls the allusion to the myth of Philomela and Procne at the outset of the fated day (Book 2, lines 64–70).

1290 L: Men clepeth this Il de Ore. N: Men clepith hit Il d’Ore (line 1301). Literally the Isle of Gold or Golden Isle, this place appears in LBD as the island replete with a castle belonging to the Maiden of the White Hands (la Pucele as Blances Mains); in LD, the castle belongs to Dame Amoure/Diamour, whose name evokes the seductive love she will later proffer Lybeaus.

1291 L: Here be fightis more. N: Ther hathe ybe fighting more (line 1302). P (line 1337) reads: “There hath beene slaine knights more” (fol. 165v, line 1337 in Cooper).

1296 L: A gyaunt that heght Maugys. N: A giaunt that hat Maugus (line 1307). The corresponding figure in LBD is Malgiers li Gris, a knight who guards the fantastic castle, l’Isle d’Or, the Golden Isle (line 1930) and who is the suitor of the enchantress la Pucele as Blances Mains, the Maiden of the White Hands (line 1941). La Pucele has promised to marry him if he can defend the causeway that leads to the castle:
The maiden had decreed that any knight who could defend her island for seven years, against any knight who passed that way, could marry her. Malgier set his sights on accomplishing the goal, although he was so loathsome that the Maiden would have found some way to get out of the marriage anyway. After five years, he had killed 140 knights and seemed undefeatable, but he was finally killed by Gawain’s son Guinglain. (AND, p. 340)
Malgiers has defeated all would-be suitors and placed their helmeted heads on stakes before the causeway. Although he is an evil knight (“fel, cuvers et mals / mais trop ert plains de mautalans” [cruel, base, and wicked, / a faithless scoundrel]) (lines 2035–36), he is not, like Maugis, a Saracen giant. Mills assumes that the author has confused Malgiers li Gris with “the typical Saracen giant of heroic romances” (LD, p. 232n1243–48). This may not be a matter of confusion. Maugus does resemble stock Saracen giants, who are racially distinct. Maugus is called a “devil so blak” (N, line 1374), as is the Saracen giant in Octovian Imperator, which, like Sir Launfal, has been attributed to Thomas Chestre. The giant in Octovian Imperator does not wear black armor, but he has “blake yghen” (line 935), is similarly associated with animal traits, and has an inhuman height: “He was of lengthe twenty feet” (line 925). Giants in medieval romance are also associated with “unbridled lust,” functioning as emblems of lower or bestial human aspects (Saunders, Rape and Ravishment, p. 209). This reinvention of Maugus, then, may have to do with the parallel shift in the characterization of the lady of l'Isle d’Or. In LD, she is a malevolent enchantress who sidetracks Lybeaus from his true quest to rescue the Lady of Synadoun, while in LBD la Pucelle is a benevolent sorceress who helps him. It is generically and aesthetically appropriate, therefore, for an evil enchantress to have a Saracen giant associated with lust to challenge Lybeaus. The combination of evil enchantress and stock evil giant, then, brings two conventional villains to bear on Lybeaus, whereas Li Biaus fights a combatant who turns out to be another suitor and thus a competitor for la Pucele’s affections. The name “Maugys/Maugus” has eluded modern scholarship, though the chanson de geste hero Maugis bears some kinship to the Maugus of LD. Maugis belongs to the Charlemagne stories of France, and his family exploits are contained in what is known as the “Renaud de Montauban cycle” of tales. Maugis or Maugris was a foundling raised by the fairy Oriane; he became a great enchanter, learned in both white magic and the black arts. Later, he becomes the lover of the enchantress/fairy Oriane. At one point, Maugis dons Saracen arms. Maugus in LD similarly has Saracen arms and battles in the service of an (evil) enchantress. The Middle English author may have imported and adjusted his material in order to develop his version of the LBD, especially his adjustment of the alliance between the “Saracen hero” Maugus and the malevolent Diamour.

1305 L: He is thirty fote on leynthe. N: He is furti fote longe (line 1316). As Mills notes, “the description of Maugys’s size . . . makes his fighting on horseback unexpected.” He remarks, moreover, that Chestre “was not wholly consistent in remodelling Malgiers on the lines of a Saracen giant” (LD, p. 233n1291–93). Perhaps this giant is more akin to Ascopard in Bevis of Hampton, who begins as a supporter of Bevis and Josian but becomes a traitor later in the narrative. Also, Amoraunt, the giant in Guy of Warwick may be alluded to in this recharacterization. Only N has Maugus’s height as forty feet, clearly exaggerating his gigantic size in order to develop the stock Saracen villain. A’s Magus (the name is perhaps a play on the Latin word for magician, magus) is “thryty fote longe” (line 1331): P reduces his height to “20 ffoote of length” (line 1351, fol.165v). The line is missing in LI.

1317 ff. L: missing stanza. N: And so is he grymly / As Y telle thee, wittirly / He is also grete / As is an ox or a kowe . . . Or as grete as any nete (lines 1328-33). Mills (p. 232nL1316) notes that this stanza, which expands the giant’s description, appears only in A and N. It follows the typical elaboration of comparisons to animal traits common to stock giants in medieval romance. See note 1305 above. A, however, introduces an ass and a cow as beasts scarcely able to draw Maugis’ cart of equipment. N, by way of contrast, introduces animals as comparisons to the giant; Maugis is as large as an ox, a cow, or any. The Naples text, then, emphasizes animal characteristics, and we might say that he “transforms” Maugis by moving him in the direction of the bestial, which is perhaps intended to link him more firmly to the Circean Dame Amoure/Diamour.

1331 L: That men calleth Ile Dolour. N: That men clepith Il d’Ore (line 1354). L seems to veer away from the original name of the island to suggest perhaps its dark side, a cause of human pain and sorrow, but N repeats the name of the Golden Isle in anticipation of Lybeaus’s encounter with the sorceress, Dame Amoure or Diamour, who dwells there. In LBD, the Isle d’Or is an enchanted island with a fabulous castle where la Pucele lives.

1337 L: Thre mawmentis therin wes. N: Four mawmetts therin was (line 1360). ME romance often represents Saracens as idol worshipers. Mawmetts are pagan idols. The word comes from Old French Mahomet, a corruption of Mohammed, whose name thus became synonymous with “idol.” A and N characteristically enhance the stock, villainous nature of Maugis, here increasing the mawmetts on his shield from three to four; so too, C, line 1275.

1343 L: Tell me whate arte thowe. N: Telle me whate art thowe (line 1369). In Ywain and Gawain, Colgrevance tells a story in which a peasant asks him, “What ertow, belamy” (line 278), and later King Arthur asks Ywain the same question, “What man ertow?” (line 1341). Such questions in medieval romance foreground the theme of chivalric identity, and therefore Lybeaus identifies himself here as an Arthurian knight. His full identity, his true name and parentage, is later revealed in stages by Sir Lambard, the Lady of Synadoun, and (in N, A only) Lybeaus’s mother.

1353–54 L: Syr Lybeus and Maugis / On stedis proude in prise. N: Maugus on fote yode, / And Libeous rode to him with his stede (lines 1376–77). L and C present Maugis on horseback, which, as Mills (LD, p. 233n1291–93) notes, is unlikely given his size. A, N, P place Maugis on foot, thus eliminating the inconsistency. See also Mills, “Mediaeval Reviser,” pp. 13–14.

1363 L: That levyd on Turmagaunte. N: That levyth on Termagaunt (line 1386). Termagaunt is the name of another pagan god sometimes said in ME romances to be worshiped by Saracens.

1375 L: That his shelde fell him froo. N: That his swerde fille him fro (line 1398). A, N agree that Lybeaus loses his sword here, whereas L, C, P have him lose his shield at this point in his fight with Maugis, which later proves inconsistent. Since Lybeaus reaches for an ax as a weapon in the next stanza, it seems reasonable that he has lost his sword. N omits the detail of the ax’s location found in A, C, L, and P (the stanza is missing in LI); e.g., “That henge by his arsowne” (L, line 1384).

1378 L: And smote Lybeous stede on the hede. N: And hit Libeous’ stede on the hede (line 1401). Horses die as frequently as the knights they carry in this romance. Lybeaus will retaliate against Maugis’s horse by driving his ax “Through Maugis stede swyre”(L, line 1386). The killing of a knight’s horse may be read as a symbolic act, indicting that in chivalry equine lives are also at risk.

1383 L: And an ax hent ybowne. N: An ax he hent ful sone (line 1406). Note that here N once more presents a more coherent text; where L, C, and P have Lybeaus smite off the head of Maugis’s horse (which he is too large to ride), N has him aim at Maugis’s neck, missing, and striking the giant’s shield instead so that it flies away, thus remaining consistent to the idea that Maugis fights on foot and not on horseback. Maugis is depicted in A as losing only a piece of his shield. Later, however, Lybeaus runs to recover that shield: N’s version presents the more credible adventure.

1395–96 L: From the oure of pryme / Tyll it were evensonge tyme. N: From the owre of the prime / Til hit was evesonge tyme (lines 1418–19). It was customary for fighting to cease at evensong or vespers.

1399 L: “Maugis, thine ore.” N: “Maugus, thyne ore(line 1422). Combat would seemingly have few rules, but there are still common courtesies to be expected. Here Lybeaus requests a moment to refresh himself with a drink of water, after which Maugis “smertly hym smytte” (L, line 1412). Maugis's unchivalric action endorses the medieval stereotype of the Saracen giant.

1422 L: I shall for this baptyse. N: Y schalle for thi baptise (line 1445). The irony of this retort suggests the symbolic meaning of Lybeaus’s refreshment. Like Spenser’s Redcrosse Knight, his strength has been renewed by water from the well (or stream). Mills’s remark expands the allusion to a scene in Guy of Warwick in which the eponymous hero battles the giant Amoraunt: “Guy agrees [to allow Amoraunt to drink from the river] and Amoraunt quenches his thirst, but later denies Guy permission to do the same unless he discloses his identity to him. But even when he has done this, Amoraunt refuses to let him go, and he has to make a dash for the river. While he is drinking he is knocked into it by the giant, but he quickly recovers, curses the giant for his treachery, and says that although ‘baptized’ by Amoraunt, he does not owe his name to him” (LD, p. 234n1333–62). The reference to “baptism” is found in the Anglo-Norman Gui and in the ME texts of Guy found in manuscripts Caius 107 (8514–17) and CUL MS ff.ii.38 (8265–68) (Mills, LD, p. 234n1333–62). The allusion to baptism is not in the Stanzaic Guy of Warwick, however.

1445 L: jepowne. The jupon (gipon) may refer to the tunic worn under the breastplate, but, more likely here, it designates his surcoat bearing his coat of arms worn outside chain mail and breastplate. See OED, jupon, n. 1.

1449–50 L: The gyaunte this ganne see / That he shulde slayne bee. N: The giaunt gan to se / That he schulde yslayne be (lines 1472–73). Mills (LD, p. 235n1384–94) observes a close correspondence between this scene and the scene in Octovian Imperator where Florent kills the giant Guymerraunt (in the Northern Octavian the giant’s name is Arageous or Aragonour).

1462 L: la Dame Amoure. N: Diamour (line 1484). La Pucele in LBD, this lady’s symbolic name literally means Love in L, but in N perhaps it is more akin to Duessa in The Faerie Queene. A, C, and P retain the image of “whiteness” found in LBD: A, line 1498, “That lady was whyte as flower;” C, line 1399, “A lady whyt as flowr,” added to N here to retain the sense, and P, line 1507, “A Ladye white as the Lyllye flower.” L and LI mention only that she is “bright” (L, line 1461; LI, line 694). It seems likely, therefore, that N would have retained the image of whiteness captured in A and P. As Maria Bendinelli Predelli (Bel Gherardino, p. 235) suggests, whiteness conventionally marks noblewomen as fitting objects of knightly love, and the phrase “white as flower” or “white as lily flower” is merely a chivalric stereotype. However, it may be a direct echo of LBD or a similar version, where “whiteness” is a significant attribute of la Pucele, figured not only in her name but in her description (see lines 2238, 2403–10): her whiteness, too, is compared to a lily flower — “Mains ot blances con flors de lis” (line 2241) — which conveys a dimension of sanctity to her role, since the lily is traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. Unlike la Pucele, however, Dame Amoure/Diamour is cast as a malevolent enchantress. Blancemal’s name and the attribute of whiteness serve to mark her ambiguity, much like la Fata Bianca in Bel Gherardino or Li Biaus’s mother in LBD. In both LD and Bel Gherardino, the figure of the sorceress retains the “whiteness” of la Pucele, even while their narrative roles have changed. Sanctity, however, is rendered ambiguous in the Old French name, Blancemal, a combination of blance (white) and mal (evil), and perhaps this is why Lybeaus’s mother is not named in LD. Like Circe, Dame Amoure/Diamour tempts Lybeaus away from his quest to liberate the Lady of Synadoun and to disregard Elene: “he forgate mayde Elyne” (L, line 1481). In Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain, the eponymous knight forgets to return to his wife, Laudine, in a year as promised.

1473 L: Lybeous graunted hir in haste. N: Sir Libeous graunt it in hast (line 1495). Dame Amoure/Diamour offers Lybeaus what appears to be her hand in marriage to­gether with all of her cities and castles, that is, her inheritable lands and properties as well as the cities owing her allegiance (and taxes). Lybeaus accepts this propo­sition. Only N inserts the pronoun “it” in Lybeaus’s acceptance, a pronoun that logically connects his agreement to Diamour’s offer. The other manuscript vari­ants include C, line 1411, “Lybeauus grauntede yn haste”; A, line 1510, “Lybeus grantyd hyr in haste”; and P, fol. 166v, “Sir Lybius frened her in hast,” where frened probably signifies “frended,” that is, he became friends with her (Cooper’s text, line 1519 reads frened). The variants without the pronoun perhaps imply his consent to her proposition of marriage, but when combined with “her” might also suggest that his consent was primarily to her person, her beauty. N makes it clear that his consent is to her proposition first, and then afterwards he “love to {plain hur cast” (line 1496). The distinction of the pronoun is significant, given the text’s focus on marital consent throughout; this illegitimate marriage based upon magical coercion contrasts markedly with Lybeaus's later marriage, which is based upon free consent. See Weldon, "Naked as he was bore."

1475–76 L: For she was bright and shene. / Alas, she hadde be chaaste. N: For sho was bright and schene. / Alas, that sho nad be ychastid (lines 1497–98). Shuffelton notes that these two lines are missing in A and suggests that the omission may be deliberate: “Though the lines may have been missing in Rate’s exemplar, it is also possible that he omitted them due to their suggestion of a sexual liaison [as in L and N]. But line 1513 [A]— ‘sche dyde hym traye and tene’—nevertheless hints at Denamowre’s seduction of Lybeaus” (p. 479n1511), as does his protracted stay with her and her offer of marriage. In L and N, the narrator immediately characterizes the enchantress as an improper match for Lybeaus.

1479 L: For twelve monthes and more. N: Thre wokis and more (line 1501). In LBD, the hero spends only one night with the sorceress, whereas Lybeaus spends a year or more with her in C, L, P but only three weeks in A, N. The length of his stay is illegible in LI, line 712, although the reference to “monyth and more” clearly indicates more than several weeks. The reduced amount of time of Lybeaus’s enchanted stay with Diamour in A, N to some extent lessens his culpability as well as the power of the enchantress over him.

1487 L: Than other suche fyve. N: Than othir wicchis fyve (line 1509). N, together with C and LI, introduces the term wicchis, further intensifying the impression that the sorcery practiced by Dame Amoure/Diamour is aligned with the occult. Further, her enchantment is associated with minstrel music (“She made hym suche melodye / Of all maner mynstralsye” (L, lines 1488–89). As Linda Marie Zaerr, “Music and Magic,” points out, a conjunction of magic and music appears in the enchanted hall of Iran and Mabon, where Lybeaus hears and sees minstrels: “Trumpys, hornys, sarvysse, / Right byfor that highe deys, / He herde and saughe with sight” (L, lines 1836–38). As he proceeds further, he sees minstrels in the niches of the walls and again hears their music: “Suche maner mynstralsye / Was never within wall” (L, lines 1855–56). That the necromancy of Mabon and Iran involves magic and music, similar to the musical sorcery of Diamour, is suggestive. Also important to note is that the analogues frequently depict Lybeaus’s mother as a woman of fairy or possibly an enchantress. In LBD, for example, the protagonist’s mother is Blancemal le Fee. In the ME romance, Lybeaus’s mother is not depicted as either a fairy or a sorceress, although in N she is referred to as “a giantis lady” (line 2249).

1498 L: He mete Elyne that may. N: He mette Elyne, that feire may (line 1520). That Elene hangs around until she can catch Lybeaus alone to correct his errancy under­scores her loyalty to the cause of her lady as well as her confidence in Lybeaus’s now-proven abilities to accomplish the mission.

1520 L: Jurflete was his name. N: Sir Jeffelot was his name (line 1539). Also known in other variants as Gyrflete, Jerflete, Jeffelot, or Gesloke. A squire made into a steward marks a distinctive move up the social ladder. In A, this character is called Syr Gesloke. R. W. Ackerman suggests a link with Girflet, son of Do of Carduel, who became a knight of the Round Table and was “slain by Lancelot in the abduction of Guinevere” (Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English, p. 112). See also note to line 240 above. In LBD, squire Robert accompanies the hero from the Arthurian court together with Helie and the dwarf. Furthermore, Gyflet, son of Do, in LBD, is the name of the knight of the gerfalcon. See note to lines 727 ff.

1533–35 L: Cor and fenne full faste, / That men hade ere oute caste, / They gadered ynne iwysse. The custom of carrying waste products outside the boundaries of the city is reversed in these lines. That the use of the word “cor” may suggest the presence of one or many corpses is in accord with the uncanny effects of the occult forces conjured up by Mabon and Iran. In C this passage reads: “For gore and fen and full want / That there was out ykast / To-gydere they gadered ywys" (lines 1471–73); N omits the passage entirely, as does A, while in LI it appears as follows: “Bothe gor and fen faste, / That hadde out beo caste, / Th . . . gedred yn iwis” (lines 763–65); and in P: “They gathered dirt & mire ffull ffast; / Which beffore was out cast, / They gathered in Iwis” (lines 1579–81; fol. 167r). That the city is called “Gaste” or “Desolate” or “Waste” City as an analogous name for Synadoun underscores an implicit connection to the dead and to practices of necromancy, though the term appears to be used ambiguously. Roger Sherman Loomis notes in “From Segontium to Sinadon: The Legends of a Cité Gaste” that the city was built on or near the site of Segontium, the ancient Roman fortress located in north Wales. Also relevant to the haunting elements of this part of the poem may be the site’s association with the defeat and death of the British king Vortigern prophesied by Merlin when he interpreted the symbolic meaning of opposing red and white dragons discovered underneath the tower that Vortigern was attempting to build. The prophecy revealed the demise of the red dragon and the ascendancy of the white, a sign of victory for the Saxons.

1539–40 L: They taken in the goore / That ar was oute yboore. This line and stanza are missing in N. The custom in this enchanted castle appears to be atypical for medieval waste management but perhaps typical for the strangeness of this section of the poem. As Derek G. Neal points out, “Lybeaus arrives with the go-between Elaine and her steward at a town where ‘filth and ordure’ are ‘collected back in’ rather than ‘thrown out.’ In this strange place lurks humiliation rather than death: Lybeaus risks being spattered with filth if he loses the challenge of Sir Lambard, hence (according to Elaine) to be known as a coward” (Masculine Self, pp. 220–21).

1549 L: That hight Syr Lanwarde. N: His name is clepid Lambert (line 1561). Also Lambard, Lambarte, Lamberd, Lambardys, and Lancharde, this character is the constable or steward of the Lady of Synadoun’s castle; he is in a position that bequeaths him responsibility for overseeing everything that goes on both inside and outside. Here he assumes the role of porter, the most relevant example of which is found in SGGK. The name also recalls a character in the Anglo-Norman Gui, who, as Mills explains, “is a vassal of Otes (Otus Guy) and who equals him in villainy. . . . In LD, Lambard is essentially a ‘good’ character, but his habit of fighting with all visitors to the castle, including those who had come to rescue his lady, could easily have raised doubts about his real nature and caused the author of the OF Lybeaus [sic] to bestow upon him a name with associations of treachery” (LD, p. 236n1487). Shuffelton notes that no version is entirely coherent in its portrayal of Lambert (p. 479n1574). Stephen Knight suggests that the name evokes the Lombards, the great bankers of the later Middle Ages, and their powerful importance to aristocratic landholders (“Social Function,” pp. 107–08). See Richard Kaeuper, Bankers to the Crown, on England, Lombardy, and mercantilism. In Thomas Chestre’s Sir Launfal, Lombardy, the setting of Sir Launfal’s tournament with the gargantuan Sir Valentine, provides an amusing satire on such mercantile/chivalric inequalitites.

1549 L omits the detail of the castle-dweller as giant. N: a giaunt felle (line 1559). This line is also missing in C, P, LI but present in A, line 1572, “a gyaunt felle.” Found only in N and A, the phrase seems to suggest (erroneously) that Lambert is a giant, like Maugis. Also in N, A the lines describing the habits of the citizens of Synadoun to throw garbage on the loser (L, lines 1560–68) are omitted (see note to lines 1539-40 above). Mills (LD, p. 236nL1530–68) suggests that the comparison to a giant represents an attempt to make Lambert more negative and that the poet/reviser dropped this effort later, reverting to the more positive characterization of Lambard in LBD. See also Shuffleton, p. 479n1574. N’s use of “giant,” however, differs. The point here is that Lambert is a man of extra­ordinary size or strength (MED) rather than the folktale villain or stereotypical giant; in other words, N makes him a formidable opponent.

1554 L: And ere he do thi nede. N: omitted. Why Lambert should humilate Arthurian knights or why there is an assumption that all challengers are Arthurian knights is not clear. See Textual Note to N, line 1554.

1581 L: And axed ther ostell. N: And axid ther ostelle (line 1591). Medieval hospitality required monasteries and castles to admit travelers, especially at night or in inclement weather. This custom appears in romances; Gawain tells the porter of Bercilak’s castle that he comes “herber to craue” (SGGK, line 812).

1587 L: Who was here governours. N: Who is your governour (line 1597). This expression recalls SGGK, when Bercilak, in his guise as the Green Knight, enters Arthur’s hall, he asks, “Wher is. . . / Þe gouernour of þis gyng” (lines 224–25). See also note 1581 above.

1593 L: The porter prophitable. N: The porter, prestabelle (line 1603). The chain of command is made clear: the porter reports to the constable before letting the knights in. This contrasts sharply with the actions of the porter in SGGK wherein Gawain is admitted immediately once he is recognized as one of the most famous knights of Arthur’s court. According to the MED “prestabelle” may mean “eager to serve” but may also be related to the sixteenth-century French word, prestable, meaning “remarkable,” in which case it would be close in meaning to L’s “prophitable.”

1597 L: “Syre, of the Rowne Table.” N: “Thei bene of the Rounde Table” (line 1607). The identification of Arthur’s knights differentiates them from all others in terms of renown and respectability.

1609 L: As a greyhounde dothe to an hare. N: So as the greyhound aftir the hare (line 1619). In another rare simile the poet creates a hunting image against which the porter is compared ironically — this is what he is not. The greyhound was noted for its speed, and the point here is that porter races to inform Lambard as speedily as a greyhound pursues a hare.

1629–30 L: His shelde was asure fyne, / Thre beer hedis therinne. N: A schilde he bare, fyne, / Thre boris hedis ydentid therinne (lines 1639–40). L’s azure shield differs from N’s merely fine one. Blue is one of the most frequently used colors (or tinctures) in heraldry. Others commonly used are red, black, and green, while more uncommonly used tinctures are purple, sky-blue, and mulberry. The ermine on the shield refers to a pattern, not fur; see Friar, Dictionary of Heraldry, p. 343 and p. 159. The two versions also differ in the animal heraldry, where L has bears’ heads and N, boars’ heads. Both emblems suggest formidable strength. The two shields seem to bring together the details of the shield belonging to Sir Degaré’s father, a fairy knight, who bears a shield “of asur / And thre bor-hevedes therin / Wel ipainted with gold fin” (lines 997–99).

1641 ff. These lines confirm Lambert’s powerful build, which N and A express as giant-like (see note to line 1549 above). L, A, and P compare him in this stanza to a leopard (L: “lebard” [line 1645]; A: “lyberd” [line 1662]; P: “Libbard” [fol. 167v]; missing in LI), whereas only N makes Lambert a Lombard (line 1655). In Chestre’s Sir Launfal, Sir Valentine, another Lombard, is “fyftene feet” tall (line 512), but there is no suggestion that he, any more than Lambert, is a Saracen giant or stereotypical villainous or rustic giant. It is worth noting here that Lambert has none of the inhuman and animal characteristics associated with Maugis or the two giants who abduct Violet.

1655 N: Prowte as eny Lombard. Lombardy is more famous for its bankers than “prowte" knights. Compare the satiric battle between Launfal and the giant of Lombardy in the ME Sir Launfal. See note 1549.

1683–84 L: Sate and rocked . . . in his cradill. N: That he sate . . . in cradille (lines 1693–94). Lybeaus has given his opponent a taste of his own medicine in this scene of role reversal. Whiting lists this line in Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases, p. 83.

1701 ff. N and A arrange this stanza differently from L. The details of the fighting part of the stanza are abbreviated, and Lybeaus, rather than offer more violence (see L, line 1702, “Wilt thou more?”), immediately responds generously to Lambert’s shame at having been unsaddled: “Be nought agrevyd” (N, line 1711).

1701 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1689–1700.

1708 L: Thowe arte of Sir Gawynes kynne. N: Thou art of Sir Gaweynis kyn (line 1717). Unlike what happens in LBD, the Lady of Synadoun’s constable, Lambard, recognizes Lybeaus as a kinsman of Gawain, the most formidable British knight in Arthur’s court and, in a deft maneuver of self-preservation, pledges his loyalty to the stronger knight. Further, in LBD, la Pucele reveals his identity, whereas in LD Lambard partially reveals it; the Lady of Synadoun, after her disenchantment, also recognizes Lybeaus’s identity in terms of kinship with Gawain, but it is Lybeaus’s mother who finally and fully completes his identity when she attends her son’s marriage feast at Arthur’s court and reveals that Lybeaus is not only a kinsman to Gawain but his son (N, A only).

1709 N: He schalle my lady gete (line 1709). See also A: He schall my lady gete (line 1709). Lambard’s prophecy that Lybeaus is the champion who shall rescue the Lady of Synadoun is missing in L and occurs only in A and N.

1736 L: God and Seint Leonarde. N: Jhesus, Hevyn kynge (line 1757). Although N invokes Christ, L refers to Saint Leonard, one of the most popular saints of western Europe. Leonard was patron saint of hospitals, prisons, pregnant women, and captives. The evocation of his name seems appropriate considering the Lady of Synadoun’s imprisonment.

1756 L: Clyrkys of nigermansye. N: Clerkis of nigromansy (line 1777). Necromancy, according to the MED, refers to sorcery or black magic. Corinne Saunders, in Magic and the Supernatural, notes that necromancy may refer to demonic practices and the conjuring of the dead, but observes that “it is very rare for romances to describe explicitly demonic magic practised by humans” and that romance writers “employ ‘nigromancy’ not to depict rituals wholly different in kind from natural magic . . . but rather to suggest more dangerous rituals that enter further into the conscious practice of magic” (p. 154). Helen Cooper, in The English Romance in Time, writes, “Middle English ‘nigromancy’ is magic on the edge of acceptability, not magic conducted through the agency of the dead” (p. 161). In LD, necromancy is only mentioned twice, in the lines above and later in L, lines 1767–68: “Hit is by nygrymauncye / Iwrought with fayreye.” In N the comparable lines are “Hit is made bi negromansy, / Ywrought it was with feyry” (lines 1788–89). The text implies perhaps that the ghostly magicians who perform in the enchanted hall and vanish suddenly are necromantic spirits, but as the text offers no explicit reference to the dead, they seem more illusory than necromantic. The magic of the clerks appears elsewhere in the poem as chambur (L: line 1975; N: charmour, line 2007), chauntement (L, line 2103; N, missing line), chawnterye (L: line 2132), and sorserye (L, line 2055; N: sorcery, line 2087; N: sorserye, line 2171).

1758 L: Irayne ys that o brother. N: Iran is, than, one brothir (line 1779). Variants include Yrayn, Jrowne, and Evrain in LBD.

1759 L: And Mabon is that other. N: And Mabon is that othir (line 1780). Variants include Maboun and Mabouunys. A likely derivation of “an enchanter and hero from Welsh legend derived from the Celtic god Maponos. He was the son of Mellt and Modron (herself taken from the goddess Matrona). He is named as a servant of Uther Pendragon in an early Welsh poem. In Culhwch and Olwen, Culhwch needs his assistance in the hunt for the boar Twrch Trwyth” (AND, p. 333). In LBD, Mabon and his brother, Evrain, enter the city of Snowdon disguised as jongleurs; they cast spells so that the populace believed they were insane, and they laid waste to the city, which became known afterwards as the Desolate City. Mabon attempted to coerce la Blonde Esmeree into marriage by transforming her into a snake, a form she would endure while she refused him or until rescued by “the greatest knight . . . from the court of Arthur” (see LBD, lines 3319–62, especially 3353–59).

1772 L: That is of knyghtis kynne. N: Comyn of kyngis kynne (line 1793). C, L, P make the Lady of Synadoun “of knightis kin.” A is silent on her kinship. LI, fol. 10v, refers to her as “so gent a dame.” Only N raises her status to a king’s daughter, thereby elevating Lybeaus’s station as her (future) husband.

1790 L: Luste they done hir synne. N: Lest that thei bring hur in synne (line 1811). The sense here seems to be that Iran and Mabon are trying to force the Lady of Synadoun to give Mabon all her inheritance, that is, to marry him. Lambard and the townspeople fear that they may “force” her into sin, that is, if Mabon rapes her and then claims her as his wife. The enchantment of the Lady of Synadoun, in other words, has coerced marriage and propertied wealth as its motive.

1833 L: Syr Lybeaus, knyght curtays. N: Sir Libeous reyght his corcis (line 1854). L reads here “knyght curtays,” so too, C, A, LI, and P. N’s reading is unique; Lybeaus arranges his “corcis,” that is, corset, a piece of body armor or corselet, in preparation to enter the enchanted hall. The action suggests the young knight’s trepidation.

1850 L: Butt mynstralis cladde in palle. N: But mynstrell clothid in palle (line 1871). The negative association between fairy magic and music links the enchanted castle to the enchantment of the Golden Isle and Dame Amoure/Diamour. For a useful discussion of minstrels and minstrelsy of the time, see Howard Mayer Brown and Keith Polk, “Instrumental Music.” See also the note to line 1487 and Zaerr, “Music and Magic.”

1854 N: Sir Libeous reyght his corcis. This line appears only in Naples, which the MED locates under “righten” v. 1c, “to aim (a weapon), point; direct (one’s course), in which case the line would mean “Sir Libeous directed his course.” All other manu­script versions of Lybeaus have some form of “curtays” in a line similar to A’s “Syr Lybeus, knyght curtays” (line 1830). However, “righten” v. 2a and 2b may also in­volve armor, as in “set one’s gear in order” or “to make weapons ready”; the MED gives the example, “right her armour” (Merlin, line 150). Similarly, in the Prose Merlin, Leodogan acquires armor: “And [thei] hym unbounden, and right his armoure, and sethen made hym to lepe on a steede that was stronge and swyfht” (Arthur at Tamelide, lines 222–24). The difficulty of the Naples line is compounded by the ambiguity of the word corcis. If the word refers to “course,” as implied in the MED reading, then the Naples line is an anomaly, as MED gives no other example of “righten” connected with course or direction; all other MED examples under 1c collocate “righten” with weapons aimed or pointing, not with setting out on a “course” or “direction.” It may be that the noun corcis is a scribal distortion of cors, corset, or corselet. Hewitt describes fourteenth-century inventories that support this reading: the inventory of Louis Hutin (1316) mentions a “cors d’acier,” that of Humphry Bohun (1322) includes a “corset de fer,” and that of the Earl of March (1330) a “corsetz de feer” (2:136). Corcis as cors, corset, or corselet thus preserves the usual MED senses of righten 1.a.b. and c. and 2.a. and b. Lybeaus does not direct his course or point his horse in the right direction, then; rather, he arranges his armor properly before riding into combat.

1872 L: The halle ypeynted was. N: The halle ypeyntid was (line 1893). The splendor of the locale enhances its enchantment. The hall is reminiscent of other enchanted places, most significantly in ME narrative, such as in the otherworldly palace of the fairy king in Sir Orfeo: “Amidde the lond a castel he sighe, / Riche and real and wonder heighe, / Al the utmast wal / Was clere and schine as cristal” (lines 355–58). Orfeo thinks “it is / The proude court of Paradis” (lines 375–76). Also resonant is the enchanted hall encountered by Sir Degaré, a palace filled with beautiful women, mirth, music, and a sumptuous feast.

1888 L: The erthe began to quake. N: The erthe bigan to quake (line 1908). The natural world marks the impending battle as in the earlier scene of thunder and lightning. It is also possible that the earthquake, thunder, and lightning are illusory, wrought by magic.

1892 ff. L: missing stanza. N: Sir Libeous therof had mervaile . . . Er that Y se what he be, / Aboute this biggyng”(lines 1914–25). This stanza is unique to N. See Sir Gawain’s musings about the “dele” and “fende” that might fittingly inhabit the green chapel, “a chapel of meschaunce” (SGGK, lines 2185–98).

1975 L: His chawntementis ne his chambur. N: His acton ne his charmour (glossed as sorcery, line 2007). There clearly appears to be a scribal error in L since “chamber” makes little sense, even if one stretches the imagination to define the word as “body.” Hence, we have glossed the word as “charms” (sorcery).

2006–08 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1974–75.

2021–22 L: The venym will me spille; / I venymed hem bothe. The mention of venom occurs in C, L, and P (the lines are missing in LI); no venom is mentioned in N or A. The poisoned sword is another means by which Mabon and Iran engage in a nonchivalric mode of combat. Shuffelton notes that “Like N, Rate’s copy-text had these lines instead of three lines in the Cotton manuscript and in L explaining that Mabon has poisoned the swords. As a result of this foul play, Lybeaus’s refusal to spare Mabon’s life seems more explicable in those manuscripts” (p. 480n2009–11).

2037 L: Tho Mabon was slayne. N: Than Mabon was yslayn (line 2069). Lybeaus cleaves the skull of Mabon; in Renaut’s version smoke comes from the skull’s mouth: “Donné li a si grant colee / que mort l’abat guile baee. / Del cors li saut une fumiere / qui molt estoit hideusse et fiere / qui li issoit par mi la boce” (lines 3059–63). (The Fair Unknown dealt him such a great blow / that he knocked him down dead, his mouth agape. / From his body there arose / a horrid and fearful plume of smoke, / which spewed out of his mouth.) Meanwhile Iran appears to disappear.

2060 ff. Both L and N are missing this stanza. Only P includes it as follows: Then he was ware of [a] valley;
Thitherward he tooke the way
   As a sterne Knight and stout.
As he rode by a riuer side
He was ware of him that tyde
   Vpon the river brimm:
He rode to him ffull hott,
& of his head he smote,
   Ffast by the Chinn;
& when he had him slaine,
Ffast hee tooke the way againe
   For to haue that lady gent.
(Cooper, lines 2104–15; see also fols. 120r–v)

2067 L: A worme ther ganne oute pas. N: A worme ther out gan pas (line 2099). Worm is a word typically equated with serpent or dragon. The woman/beast here is clearly a dragon since she is a worm with wings and a tail. Medieval portrayals of the Fall often depict the serpent as a woman; for example, the serpent in the sculpture above the left portal, west façade, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, looks like the archetypal Eve. See page 83 for an image of Eve and the Dragon-Serpent in Speculum humanæ salvationis, and for more on this point, see Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” pp. 73–77.

2069 L: “Yonge Y am and nothinge olde.” N: Yonge and nothing olde (line 2101). In L, the Lady of Synadoun addresses Lybeaus directly as a dragon-woman, whereas in N, the dragon-woman does not address him, and this line represents indirect narratorial comment. No form of this line appears in the French LBD.

2083 L: The worme with mouth him kyste. N: The worme with mouthe him kist (line 2115). This is the fier baiser episode at the heart of the Fair Unknown narrative and the effective cause of the disenchantment of the Lady of Synadoun. Other “fearsome kisses” take place in Ponzela Gaia, Carduino, and Lanzelet, as well as in LBD, but in no other episode is the dragon/serpent endowed with a “womanes face.” Similar to the loathly lady narrative, the kiss disenchants the dragon-lady, transforming her into her previous form, a beautiful woman. This is also the moment in which Lybeaus’s identity is manifestly revealed, for only the kiss by a blood relative of Gawain can affect the disenchantment.

2085–87 L: And aftyr this kyssynge / Off the worme tayle and wynge / Swyftly fell hir froo. N: And aftir that kissing, / Of the worme bothe taile and wyng / Sone thei fille hur fro (lines 2117–19). In LBD, as Ferlampin-Acher notes, the transformation of disen­chantment is never seen (La Fée et la Guivre, p. lixn128); so too, in Lanzelet and the other European analogues where the transformation also occurs “off stage” or is never directly described. Only in LD does the disenchantment take visible form.

2091 ff. L: But she was moder naked, / As God had hir maked: . . . As naked as she was bore. N: But scho was al nakid / As the clerkis hur makid; . . . . As nakid as scho was bore (lines 2123–24; L, line 2137, N, line 2176). The disenchantment involves the disappearance of the serpent-Eve-dragon disguise (“Off the worme tayle and wynge / Swyftly fell hir froo” [L, lines 2086–87]), suggesting that the transformation returns the lady to a state of innocence equivalent to a prelapsarian Eve, the mother of all human­kind. Not only is she innocent but without shame. N’s original reference to clerks recalls the enchantment caused by Iran and Mabon, and perhaps implies their malicious disrobing of her prior to covering her with the magic dragon disguise. Later, however, when Lybeaus recounts the story to Lambard, he describes her, “As nakid as scho was bore” (N, line 2176). Another parallel to this striking image is the story of Saint Margaret, patron saint of childbirth, who is swallowed by a dragon but erupts from its belly reborn. See Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” p. 81.

2120 ff. L: missing stanza. N: To loke aftir Iran (lines 2153 ff.). This passage dealing with the search for and killing of Iran occurs after the disenchantment only in the N, A tradition. For Mills, it is a revised passage that corrects the unsolved mystery of Iran’s disappearance and provides closure. N omits the repetitive lines from A at this point: “And ther sone he wane. / He went into the towre / And in that ilke chambour” (A, lines 2113–15). Of the two, N is more sensible than A, and from line 2153, the passage is original with N.

Syr Lybeus, the knyght gode,
Into the castell yode
     To seke after Irain.
He lokyd into the chambour
Ther he was in towre,
     And ther sone he hym wane.
He went into the towre
And in that ilke chambour
     He saw Irain that man.
He drew hys suerd with myght
And smote of hys hede with ryght,
     For soth, of Irain than.
(Shuffleton, A, lines 2108–19)

2134 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2097 ff.

2137 L: As naked as she was bore. N: As naked as scho was bore (line 2176). See note for line 2091 above.

2138 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2109 ff.

2160ff. N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2121 ff.

2178 L: Arthur gave also blyve. N: Arthour, he gave blyve (line 2217). Arthur’s blessing and consent to the marriage sanctions it and renders Lybeaus’s mission complete. He has literally won the lady’s hand in marriage. In LBD, this is a bittersweet reward, since in that poem Lybeaus’s true love is the Maiden with the White Hands whom he had left abruptly to complete his mission.

2192 ff. L: missing stanza. N: 2232 ff. The arrival of Lybeaus’s mother is unique to A and N, and solves what Mills perceives as an inconsistency in the other manuscript versions, where Gawain's sudden recognition of his son is left unexplained (“Mediaeval Reviser,” pp. 17–18). The appearance of Guinglain’s mother not only solves what Mills perceives as an inconsistency, Gawain’s sudden recognition of his son, which is left unexplained in C and L but added to A and N; it also provides reconciliation of the separated and “lost” parents. The family reunion motif appears in Sir Degaré, Octovian Imperator and the Northern Octavian, Emaré, and Sir Isumbras. Illegitimate but chivalric sons occur in the story of Lancelot and Galahad, Le Livre de Caradoc, and Ysaÿe le triste.
Gawain's address to the Lady of Synadoun (N: 2244 ff.) is unique to N, A, P, and LI. Only in N, however, does Gawain refer to Lybeaus’s mother as a “giantis lady” (line 2249) — see note to line 1487 above. A refers to her as a “gentyll lady” (line 2209); so, too, LI, “gentil lady” (Cooper, line 1077; fol. 12v). Although her description as a giant’s lady might seem incongruous, there is a sense in which N’s reading restores the idea that Lybeaus’s mother is kin to a race of nonhuman beings. LD belongs to a group of folkloristic narratives in which the hero’s enfances is obscure; he is raised outside of civilization and his parents or one of his parents and/or guardians is divine or animal (Walter, Bel Inconnu, pp. 49–72). In LBD, Guinglain’s mother is Blancemal le Fee (line 3237), for example; in, Wigalois, she is Florie, daughter of a fairy king. If, as a giant’s lady, Lybeaus’s mother is meant to be a giant’s daughter, then she recalls folklore tradition in which a giant’s daughter helps the hero or marries the hero, as in the British folktale “Nix Nought Nothing.” In the Celtic story How Culhwch Won Olwen, Culhwch weds Olwen, the beautiful and nonmonstrous daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden. In folklore and myth, giants, like fairies, live outside human communities, so the N association of Lybeaus’s mother with giants maintains the obscure and uncivilized (nonhuman) parentage of the hero lost in the other versions of LD. It is also possible that the “giant” status of Lybeaus’s mother indicates her “otherness” — that she resides outside the court and is marginalized by her unwed, single-parent status.

2199 L: Sevyn yere they levid same. N: Ten yere thei levid in same (line 2274). The marriage in N lasts longer than L’s, although neither text (nor any other version) men­tions children, which are often the conventional index of a successful medieval marriage.

2204 L: Grawnte us gode endynge. Amen. N: To blys He us alle bring. Amen (line 2279). Despite the naming of Lybeaus in the incipit of L as Guinglain, the name given to him by Arthur (Lybeaus Desconus) is the name that accrues recognition and authority in the chivalric world. This is the name that is cited on the Winchester Round Table.

2280 N: Qui scripcit carmen sit benedictis. Amen. A formulaic ending which often con­cludes secular as well as religious manuscript entries. The correct spelling is scripsit; however, the variant scripcit also frequently appears in manuscript colophons. For instance, the exact phrasing and spelling closes The Prick of Conscience in Manchester, John Rylands, Library Eng. 51 [olim Quaritch Sale Cat. 344, Item 28], fol. 116v (see The IMEV: An Open-Access, Web-Based Edition of The Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Linne R. Mooney et al., Number 3428: host/imev/record.php?recID=3428.). This is the first of a hierarchy of display scripts in the Lybeaus portion of N, here a bastard display script composed of a mix of more formal bookhand scripts, including an approximation of textualis semiquadrata with its occasional feet in the minims, occasional separate letters, angular letters, and a more formal cursive blend of mainly Secretary forms (the letter a) together with some Anglicana forms (the long s).

2281 N: Hic Explicit Libeus Disconyus. This colophon is written in the scribe’s most elevated and formal bastard display script.

2282–85 N: He that lovyth welle to fare / . . . . / His here wol grow throw his hood. This homely verse, which apart from the more formal capital h and top line with its stylistic decorative features, is written in the same script as the text (a mix of Secretary and Anglicana features) and inserts a conventional moral on the page, although it is not clear whether or not it is meant as a commentary on LD. These moralizing verses appear in Bodley MS 315 (SC 2712) which was presented to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral in the mid-1470s by Magister John Stevens, a canon at Exeter. According to the manuscript, the Naples verses are among several which appeared on the wall of the dining hall of the Augustinian Canons' Priory of St. Stephen of Launceston in Cornwall. See Rossell Hope Robbins, "Wall Verses at Launceston Priory." The sense is that indiscriminate spending leads to poverty, a condition marked by the wear and thinness of the material of the hood that allows the wearer’s hair to poke through the material. The scribe signs his name here as More, whom Manly and Rickert identify as a Harry More, although they offer three other potential scribal candidates who were writing/copying at the same time: an Oxford stationer John More, a London stationer, Richard More, and a Bristol scrivener William More (Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1:376). There is, however, no scholarly agreement on these suggestions. Verses from Lydgate’s “Beware of Doubleness” as well as a disguised signature of the scribe as More concludes the final item in N, Grisilde or The Clerk’s Tale on p. 146 of the manuscript.

2286 N: Hic pennam fixi penitent me si male scripsi. This is a smaller script than that used for line 2281 and less formal, although here, too, there are suggestions of textualis. The same Latin phrase is repeated at the end of the Naples manuscript, con­cluding the tale of Griselde (Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale). See Weldon, “Naples Manuscript.” See the note for lines 2282–85 above.


ABBREVIATIONS: A: Ashmole 61 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS 6922) (see Shuffelton); C: London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A.ii (see Mills); L: London, Lambeth Palace, MS 306; LD: Lybeaus Desconus; LI: London, Lincoln’s Inn, MS 150 (formerly known as Lincoln’s Inn, MS Hales 150) (see Cooper); N: Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29; P: London, British Library, MS Additional 27879 (also known as the Percy Folio); LBD: Li Biaus Descouneüs.

Incipit L: A tretys of one Gyngelayne othir wyse Namyd by Kyng Arthure Lybeus Dysconeus that was bastard son to Sir Gaweyne.

1 oure. Mills notes superscript r added later (LD, p. 75), though it is difficult to determine when that insertion was made.

11 Roun Table. L: rountable. As is the case with most proper nouns in ME manuscripts, Roun(d) Table appears as one word uncapitalized. Conventions of capitalization vary widely, though rubrics (historiated or not) are most often the exception. Mills detects an erasure under the r (LD, p. 75).

16 kepte. L: kept. We have added a final e to kepte.

19 savage. L: savage crossed out and followed by sawge. Mills emends to savage (LD, p. 75) in accordance with the Middle English Dictionary citation.

20 And gladly wold do outerage. L: do is crossed out and not is added above. The sense is that if Lybeaus is full savage (sawge) as the previous line suggests, then he would more likely do outrageous violence than refrain from doing it. We have restored the appropriate verb.

26 clepte. L: clept. The final e has been restored in accordance with Mills (LD, p. 75).

30 Whate hight of his dame. L: Whate hight off his dame. Mills notes correctly that there is another word above off which appears to be added after an attempt to cross out that word. The replacement superscript is onys. He retains off to maintain the orthography of the manuscript (LD, p. 77). We have eliminated the second f for the sake of clarity.

38 can shrede. L: gan shrede. Mills emends gan to can based on his obser­vation that c appears to be written over g (LD, p. 77).

70 Whan that he wold be made a knyght. L: Whan that wold be made a knyght. There is an erasure and a lacuna in this line in which Mills has in­serted an appropriate pronoun. N: When he wol ben a knyght (line 70).

71 hyght. L: heght. Mills detects an e written over the y in hyght (LD, p. 79). We have retained the y.

74 same. L: fame. Mills sees a cross-stroke in the s of same (LD, p. 79); the sense is better retained by this emendation.

86 Con. L: Gon. Mills detects a c written over the g (LD, p. 79), an emendation that makes more sense of the line.

92 strok of myght. L: stroke of myght. The final e on stroke is blurred. Cooper emends to strokes (p. 15).

114 Att his tabyll sett. L: there is a word crossed out before sett. Mills identifies it as sete (LD, p. 81).

115 Ther. L: Th e. Mills adds r (LD, p. 81).

118 The may hight Ellene. Mills reads Ellyne explaining that the y has been erased and e written over the erasure (LD, p. 81).

122 on. L: one. There is clearly a final e on one. We have emended to retain the sense of the line.

129 Milke. In L, the first letter is blurred.

130 The dwerf was clothed in ynde. L: The dew dwerff was clothed in ynde. Mills sees a mark of deletion through the word “dew,” though it appears not to be fully expunged (LD, p. 83). This may be evidence of scribal error and revision.

131 Byfore. L: fore is added above the line. It appears to be filling in the gap before the partially deleted word fore that follows, making the beginning of the line read: Byfore fore.

135 His surcote. L: Hi surcote. Mills has added the s to the pronoun as have we (LD, p. 83). The final e in surcote appears smudged.

143 Wyde were. L: Whyde wher. Mills detects an erasure here, were written over wher ( LD, p. 83). He has restored the original word as have we.

152 erende. Mills notes an erasure in the middle of this word (LD, p. 83).

167 hert. L: her. We have completed the word hert to make sense of the line.

174 bere recorde. L: bererecorde. We have noted the oblique stroke between bere and recorde to separate the two words.

177 sper and swerde. L: sperand swerde. We have separated the word sper/and according to the stroke that appears in the manuscript.

188 Persyfal. L: Persyfale. We have deleted the final e.

189 ben abled. L: beneabled. We have emended according to the oblique line in the middle of this word.

196 Or that he that lady see. L: that lady see. Two words before lady see have been crossed-out. Mills reads lay see ( LD, p. 87).

206 I lernede. L: J leerde. There is a crossed out word before leerde, which appears to be inserted in another hand. In agreement with Mills we have emended to lerned (LD, p. 87).

207 Ther many man hathe be slawe. There is a crossed-out word, may, before many.

215 forsake. L: for forsake. The preposition appears to be crossed out.

216 As hit is londes lawe. N: For suche is Arthouris lawe (line 213). This stanza in L contains three additional lines not present in N (fifteen rather than twelve).

218 gettist. L: getist.

226 dismayde. L: dismaysed. Mills’s emendation of dismaysed makes more sense of the line (LD, p. 89).

236 hightis. L: hightth. Mills emends to hightis as have we (LD, p. 89).

239 fyghtis. L: fyghtth. Emended to maintain consistency with line 236.

253 aboute. Mills detects a w written over the u (LD, p. 89).

254 A shelde with one cheferon. N: A schilde with on griffoun (line 264).

260 And a fell fauchone. L: And fell a ffawchone.

276 stoute and gaye. Mills detects a w written over u (LD, p. 91).

282 caytyfe. L: catyve. Mills detects an erased ff under the v. We have emended accordingly.

286 with eche. The considerable gap between these words suggests an erasure. Mills notes an extra h and e in the space and something in the left margin that appears to be erased words “the which” (LD, p. 91).

288 Delaraunche. L: delarawnche. There appears to be another letter under the w. What is most notable about this line, however, is that the name of this character has changed from “Salebrant” as it appears in LBD.

315 ridis. L: ridith. Emended to ridis to maintain consistency with other words ending with th, e.g., knightis. The -is suffix indicates the plural form.

331 non other. L: no nother. Mills emends correctly to non other (LD, p. 95).

332 In haste. L: J haste. Adding a preposition makes sense of the phrase.

342 William. L: Will appears to have an abbreviation mark indicating the full name.

352 afor. L: afore. Mills notes that the final e was added later (LD, p. 95).

386 plasse. L: plase. The second s is barely visible.

388 love. L: lesse. Mills emends to love ( LD, p. 99), an emendation with which we agree based on readings from other versions.

393 knele thu downe. L: knele downe. Mills notes a caret insert after knele (LD, p. 99).

394 fauchon. L: ffauchone. Mills emends to ffauchon presumably to maintain the rhyme with renon (LD, p. 99).

401 kynde. L: kyende. Partially visible y with e inserted over kynde emended for clarity’s sake.

404 forward. Caret indicates place where first r is inserted over the word.

421 nought. L: nougthte. We have emended to nought in order to maintain the meter of the line.

426 rydis. L: rideth. Emended for greater consistency among plural verbs.

429 But o thinge. L: But othinge. We have emended to indicate the word one.

457 togeder. L: to geder. Emended to make sense of the line.

461 foryave. L: for yave.

469 knyghtis. L: knighth.

482 rede. L: ryde. y written over e.

487 so neghe. L: so nygh. y written over e and final e is erased.

502 beheld. L: be helde.

514 The yongest brother full yerne. L: the yongest brother appear as guide words at the bottom of the folio page.

518 yerne. L: yern. Final e appears to be erased. We have restored it.

519 Ber. L: Bere. Mills identifies a final e added by a later hand (LD, p. 107).

523 styffe. fe ending added later as indicated by a different hand.
sett. Second t appears to be partially erased.

524 basnett. Second t appears to be partially erased as in sett above.

527 hede. L: hed. Final e partially erased.

531 Alse. L: Als. Final e partially erased. We have restored it to preserve the sense of the line.

532 thoo. L: tho. Second o thoroughly erased.

536 gryme. L: grym. Final e partially erased.

540 thoo. L: tho. Final o partially erased.

543 atwoo. L: atwo. Final o partially erased.

545 no myght. L: nemyght. Oblique line separating ne myght. Mills reads no for ne as do we (LD, p. 109).

557 of. Under erasure.

562 L: rubricated capital A, two lines deep, begins line.

571 therd day. L: therday. Emended to make sense of the line.

579 towne. L: towe. Emended to make sense of the line.

582 browne. L: browe.

588 Here. L: Her. Final e is under erasure.

595 hire. L: hre.

602 fyre. L: fere.

605 pyche. L: pytche.

624 enprice. L: enprise.

632 Thorugh lounge and hert. L: eke thorugh inserted above hert.

645 ner. L: ne. We have emended to maintain the sense of the line.

650 therefore. L: there fore.

718 The Erle. L: large unhistoriated capital T in red.

739 him. L: ho.

813 Quod. L: Qud.

819 And amyddis the market. L: Large unhistoriated capital A in red with guide letter in lower case.

852 Thow. L: Tow.

862 samyte. L: sanyte.

863 hir atyre. L: there appears to be a word crossed out between these two.

901 back. L: backis.

935 hauk. L: haukys. The sense of the line calls for one hawk rather than many.

936 Quod. L: Qud.

943 hauk. L: haukis.

1001 rowne. L: rowme.

1007 hauk. L: haukis.

1021 forty L: xlti. Xlti is crossed out in the body of the narrative and reinserted in the left margin.

1029 As they redyn by a lowe. Large unhistoriated capital A. Catchwords hornes herd at bottom of folio page.

1089 Quod. L: Qud.

1101 Quod. L: Qud.

1106 dwerf hem. L: dewerff hen.

1110 rightis. L: righth.

1269 In L, large unhistoriated capital N in red.

1275 In L, large unhistoriated capital H in red.

1376 felde. L: flelde.

1495 Thus. L: This.

1544 I tell thee whate hit is. L: Catchwords no knyghth follow at bottom of folio page.

1572 prophyte. L: profyte. Mills reads propfyte (LD, p. 169).

1589 myghtis. L: myghth.

1592 fightis. L: fyghth.

1609 greyhounde. L: geyhounde.

1652 myghtis. L: myghth.

1665 they. L: the.

1702 Quod. L: Qud.

1787 welde. L: wele.

1799 souped. L: stoupeth.

1876 mynstrales. L: mynstales.

1947 Her. L: He.

1976 Downe. L: Dowe.

2017 my powsté. L: there appears to be a word crossed out between these two.

2071 thynchis. L: pynchis.

2074 L: Catchwords at bottom of folio page, hyr peynis.

2106 I. L: this word has been inserted with a caret.

2113 stryfe. L: this word has been inserted with a caret.

2114 be. L: this word has been inserted with a caret

2118 he. L: this word has been inserted with a caret.

2130 her lady. L: there appears to be a word crossed out between these two.

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Lybeaus Desconus (Lambeth Palace, MS 306)

by: Eve Salisbury (Editor), James Weldon (Editor)
from: Lybeaus Desconus  2013

A tretys of one Gyngelayne othir wyse namyd by Kyng Arthure Lybeus Dysconeus that was bastard son to Sir Gaweyne. (see note); (t-note)

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































Jhesus Criste oure Savyour
And His Moder, that swete floure,
Spede hem at her nede
That lysteneth of a conquerour,
Wise of witt and wight wereour
And doughty man of dede.
His name was Sir Gyngelayne,
Gotten he was of Sir Gaweyne,
Under a forest syde;
A better knyght was never prophitable
With Arthur at the Roun Table:
Herde I never of redde.

Gyngelayne was fayre of sight,
Gentyll of body and of face bryght,
Bastard though that he were;
His moder hym kepte with hir myght
That he shulde se no knyght
I-armed in no maner,
For he was full savage
And gladly wold do outerage
To his fellaues in fere;
And all for dred of wycke loose
His moder alwey kepte him close,
As dughty childe and dere.

And for he was so fayre of fyce,
His moder clepte him Bewfiz,
And none other name,
And this childe was so nyse
He asked never, i-wysse,
Whate hight of his dame.
Tyll hit befell uppon a day,
The childe wente him forthe to playe,
Of dere to have som game
He fond a knyght there he lay,
In armes stoute and gaye,
Slayne and made ful tame.

He toke off that knyghtis wede;
Hymsylffe therin well fayre can shrede,
All in that bryght armour.
Whan he had do that in dede,
To Glastynbury the childe him yede,
Ther lay Kyng Arthure.
And whan he came to Arthurs hall
He fond him there and his lordis all;
This childe knelyd downe on his kne;
“Kyng Arthure, Criste thee save and see.
I am come oute of fer contré
My mone to make to thee.

I am a child unkowthe
And come out of the southe
And wolde be made a knyght;
Lorde, I pray thee nowthe,
With thi mery mouthe,
To graunte me anone right.”
Than saide Arthure the kynge,
“To me childe, without dwellinge:
Whate is thi name aplight?
For never sethe I was born,
Sawe I never me beforne
So semely to my sight.”

Sayde Gyngelayn, “Be Seint Jame!
I ne wote whate is my name;
I am the more nyse;
But while I was at home,
My moder, on hir game,
Clepped me Bewfice.”
Than sayde Arthur the kyng,
“This is a wonder thinge,
Be God and Seint Denyce,
Whan that he wold be made a knyght
And wote not whate his name hyght
And hathe so fayre a vice.

I shall yif hym a name,
Amonge you all in same,
For he is fayre and fre;
Be God and be Seint Jame,
So clepped him never his dame,
Whate woman so she be.
Clepeth him in your use,
Lybeus Disconeus,
For the love of me;
Than mowe ye wit, on a rowe,
That the better ye mowe knowe
Certis so hight hee.”

Kynge Arthur anone right
Con make him a knyght, Did;
In that sylffe daye,
“Now Kyng Arthur hathe made me knyght,
I thanke him with all my myght;
Bothe by day and nyght
With my fomen I will fight
Them to say with strok of myght
And to juste in feere.”

Whan he was a knyght made,
Of Arthure a bone he bade
And sayde, “My lorde fre:
In hert I were full glad
The first fyghtinge that ye hadde
That men will aske of thee.”
Than saide Arthure the kynge,
“I graunte thee thine askynge,
Whate batayll so it bee;
But me thinketh thou arte to yonge
To do a gode fyghtynge,
Be ought that I can see.”

Withouten eny more reyson,
Duke, erle, and baron
Wesshed and went to mete.
Volatyle and venyson,
As lordis of grete renon,
I-now they had to ete.
Nade Arthure syt but a while,
The mountence of a myle,
Att his tabyll sett,
Ther con a mayde in ryde
And a dwerfe by hir syde,
All beswett for hete.

The may hight Ellene,
Gentyll, bryght and shene,
A lovely messengere.
Ther nas countes nor quene
So semely on to sene
That myght be hir pere.
She was clothed in tarse,
Rownd and nothinge scarse,
I-pured with blawndenere;
Hir sadill was overgilt
And with diamondis fyltt:
Milke white was hir destere.

The dwerf was clothed in ynde,
Byfore and eke behinde:
Stoute he was and pertte.
Amongis all Cristyn kyng
Suche sholde no man fynde;
His surcote was so ryche bete.
His berde was yelewe as wax,
To his girdyll hange his fax:
The sothe to say in sertenté,
Of gold his shone were dight
And coped as a knyght:
That signyfied no poverti.

Theodeley was his name:
Wyde were spronge his fame,
By northe and eke by southe;
Mekyll he couthe of game,
Sotill, sawtrye in same,
Harpe, fethill, and crowthe.
He was a gentill boourdour
Amonge ladyes in boure,
A mery man of mouthe.
He spake to the mayde hende,
“For to tell thine erende,
Tyme hit were nouthe.”

The mayde knelyd in hall
Befor the knyghtis all
And sayd, “My lorde Arthure,
A casse is nowe befall,
A worsse within wall
Was never yitt of doloure.
Mi lady of Synadowne
Is brought in stronge prison,
That was of grete valure,
And pray you sond hir a knyght
That is of wer wyse and wight,
To wynne hir with honoure.”

Uppe startte that yonge knyght,
With hert mery and light,
And sayde, “Arthur, my lorde,
I shall do that fight
And wyn that lady with myght,
If ye be trewe of worde.”
Than sayde Arthoure, “That is sothe,
Certeyn withouten othe,
Therto I bere recorde.
God yf thee strenthe and myght
To hold that ladyes right
With dynte of sper and swerde.”

The mayde began to chide
And sayde, “Alas that tyde
That I was heder i-sentt!
Thy worde shall sprynge wide:
Forlorne is thy pryde
And thi lose shentt,
When thou wilt send a childe
That is witles and wylde
To dele eny doughty dent,
And haste knyghtis of renoun,
Syr Persyfal and Syr Gawyn,
That ben abled in turment.”

The dwerfe with grete erroure
Went to Kynge Arthowre
And saide, “Kynde kynge:
This childe to be weroure
And to do suche labour
Is not worthe a ferthinge
Or that he that lady see,
He shall do bataylles thre,
Wythoute eny lesynge;
At Poynte Perilowse,
Besyde the Chapell of Awntrous,
Shall be his begynynge.”

Syr Lybeus than answerde,
“Yett was I never aferde
For dred of wordys awe.
To fyght with spere and swerde
Somdell have I lernede.
There many man hathe be slawe,
That man that fleyth by wey or strete,
I wolde the devyll had broke his nek,
Wherever he hym take;
Also I wolde he were to-drawe
And with the wyne to wawe,
Till the devill him take.
The batayll I undirtake
And never none forsake,
As hit is londes lawe.”

The kynge said anone right,
“Thou gettist here none other knyght,
By Him that bought me dere!
If ye thinke the childe not wyght,
Get thee another wher thou myght,
That is of more power.”
The mayden for ire and hete
Wolde neyther drynke ne ete,
For none that there were.
She sate downe dismayde
Tyll the table was raysed,
She and the dwerfe in fere.

Kyng Arthoure, in that stounde,
Comaunded of the Tabill Rownde
Foure of the best knyghtis,
In armys hole and sownde,

To arme him anone rightis;
And sayde, “Throwe the helpe of Criste,
That in the flome was baptiste,
He shall holde uppe all high hightis,
And be gode champyon
To the Lady of Synadon
And fellen hir foon in fyghtis.”

To armen him the knyghtis were fayne:
The fyrst was Syr Gawayne,
That othere, Syr Persyvale,
The third was Syr Iwayne,
The fourthe highte Agfayne:
Thus telleth the Frensshe tale.
They kestyn on him of sylke
A sorkett white as mylke,
That semely was in sale;
Theron an haubryk bryght
That richely was dyght
With mayles thik and smale.

Syr Gawyn, his owe syre,
Henge aboute his swyre
A shelde with one cheferon;
And an helme of riche atyre
That was stele and none ire
Sir Percyvale sett on his crowne;
Lawncelett brought him a spere,
In armes him with to were,
And a fell fauchone;
Iwayne brought him a stede
That was gode at nede
And egir as eny lyoun.

The knyght to hors gan sprynge
And rode to Arthure the kynge
And sayde, “My lorde hende,
Yeff me thy blessynge,
Withoute eny dwellynge;
My will is nowe to wende.”
Arthur his honde up haffe
And his blessyng him gaffe,
As curteys kynge and kynde,
And sayde, “God yf thee grace,
Of spede and eke of space,
To brynge that byrde oute of bonde.”

The messanger was stoute and gaye
And leppte on her palfraye.
The dwerfe rode by hir syde,
Tyll on the thirde day,
On that knyght alwaye
Faste he gan to chide.
And saide, “Lorell, caytyfe,
Though thu were worthe suche fyve,
Lorne is thy pryde!
This place beforne kepith a knyght
That with eche man will fight:
His wordis spryngen full wyde.

He hat Syr William Delaraunche:
His fyght may no man staunche,
He is a werreour oute of wytt;
Throwe herte other throwe haunche,
His spere he will throwe launche
Whoso agayne hym sytt.”
Quod Lybeous Disconeous,
“Is his fyght of suche use?
Was he never i-hitt?
For ought that may betyde,
Ayenes him will I ride
To se how he will fytte!”

They redyn forthe all thre
Upon that fayre cause
Ryght to Chapell Auntours;
The knyght they con see,
In armys bryght of blee,
Uppon the Poynte Perylous.
He bare a shelde of grene
With three lyons of gold shene,
Well proude and precious;
Of sute lynnell and trappes.
To dele strokys and rappes
That knyght was evyr vyous.

Whan he sawe Lybeous with syght
Agayne him he rode right
And sayde, “Welcome bewfere!
Whoso ridis here day or nyght
He most nedys with me fight
Or leven his armes here.”
Quod Lybeous Disconeus,
“For the love of Jhesus,
Lette us nowe passe here:
We be fer from any frende
And have wylde wey to wende,
I and this mayden in fere.”

William answerd thoo,
“Thowe shalt not scape soo,
So God yf me rest!
We shall bothe twoo
Fyght or than we goo,
A forlonge here be weste.”
Quod Lybeus, “Nowe Y see
Hit will non other bee:
In haste do thi best.
Take thi course with thi shafte,
Iff thu conne thy crafte,
For here is myne all prest.”

They wolde no lenger abyde,
But togeder con they ryde
With well grete raundoun.
Lybeus Disconeus that tide
Smote William under the syde
With a sper felloune;
But William sate so faste
That bothe his styropis to-brast
And his hynder arsoune,
That he begann to stoupe
Over his hors crowpe,
And in the felde fell downe.

His stede ranne away,
But William nought longe laye
But stertt up anone ryght
And sayde, “Be my faye!
Nevyr afor this daye
Ne fonde I none so wyght.
My stede is nowe agoo:
Sir, fyght on fote also,
Yff thou be a gentyll knyght.”
Sayde Libeus Disconeus,
“By the leve of Jhesus,
Therto I am full lyght.”

Togeder con they dynge
And fauchones oute to flynge
And faughten frely faste.
Dyntis con they dynge
That fyre, withoute lesynge,
From helme and basnett oute braste;
But Wylliam Sellabraunche
To Lybeus con launche
Through his shelde on highe.

Lybeus anone ryght
Deffended him with myght,
As werreor queynte and slygh;
Barbe and crest in syght
He made to fle downe ryght
Of Williams helme on highe;
And with the poynte of the swerde
He shove Williams berde
And came the flesshe not nyghe.
William smote to Lybeus soo
That his swerd barst a-two,
That many a man hit syghe.

Tho can William to crye,
“For the love of Mary,
On lyve now lett me passe!
Hit were a grete vylonye
To do a knyght to dye,
Wepenles in a plasse.”
Quod Lybeus Disconeus,
“By the love of Jhesus,
Of lyfe gettest thu no grace
But thu swere me an othe
Or than ye hense gothe
Righte before my face.”

“In haste knele thu downe
And swere on my fauchon
Thou shalt to Artor wende
And say, ‘Lord of renon,
As overcome person,
A knyght me heder ganne sende,
That ye cleppen in your use
Lybeus Disconeus,
Unkothe of right and kynde.’”
William on kneis him sett
And swore, as he hym hett,
Her forward worde and ende.

Thus they departed all:
William to Arthours hall
Toke the right waye.
A case ther can befall
Thre prynces proude in palle
He met that ylke daye.
The knyghtis all thre
Weren his syster sonnes free,
That weren so stoute and gaye.
Whan they sawe William blede,
As men that wolden wede
They maden grete deraye.

And seyde, “Eme William,
Who hathe wrought thee this shame?
Why bledest thou so yeren?”
“By God and be Seint Jame,
Of that he is nought to blame,
A knyght wel stoute and sterne.
Lybeus Disconeus he highte
To fell his fone in fyght
He nys nothinge to leren.
A dwerfe rydis him byfore,
His squyer als he were,
And eke a well fayre berne.

But o thinge grevis me sore
That he hathe made me swere
By his fauchone bryght
That I shall nevermore,
Till I be Artour before,
Stynte day nor nyght.
To hym I mot me yelde
As overcomen in felde
Of his owne knyght;
I shall never agenes him bere
Nother sheld nother spere,
Thus have Y him hight.”

Than said the knyghtis free,
“Thou shalt awroken bee
Sertys withoute fayle!
Hym agayne us thre
Ys not worthe a stree
For to holde batayle.
Wende thedyr and do thine othe,
And though the traytour be wrothe
We shall him assayll;
Or he this forest passe
His hambrek we will to-rasshe,
Though hit be thike of mayle!”

Hereof wyst no wyght
Syr Lybeus that yonge knyght,
But rode forthe pase by pase.
He and that mayden bright
Made togeder that nyght
Gamen and grete solas.
“Mercy,” she con hym crye,
For she had spoken hym vylonye;
He foryave hir that trespas.
The dwerf was hir squyer
And served hem bothe in fere
Of alle that worthi was.

On morowe, whan it was daye,
They redyn on her jornaye
Taward Synadoune.
Then met they in the way
Thre knyghtis stoute and gaye,
Rydynge from Carboun.
To hym they cryed aright
“Traytor, torne agayne and fight,
Or leve here thi rennoun!
For here we westward wende
Thyne haubrek we shall rende
Ther to we bethe full bounde.”

Syr Lybeus to hem cryed,
“I am redy to ride
Agenes you all in same!”
As prince proude in pride,
He prekyd his stede on eche syde
And to them stoutly con rede
On ernest and nought in game.
The eldest brother can bere
To Sir Lybeus a spere:
Gower was his name;
Lybeus rode Gower so neghe
That he to-brake Gowers thiegh,
And evyr after was lame.

The knyght gronyd for payne;
Lybeous, with myght and mayne,
Held hym fast adowne.
The dwerfe of Theodoleyn
Toke the stede by the rayne
And lepte up in the arson,
And rode forthe, also skette,
Ther the mayde Elyne sette
That faire was of fassyon;
Than loughe this mayden bright
And seide that this yonge knyght
Is chose for champyon.

The medyllest brothere beheld
How his brother in the felde
Had lorne bothe mayne and myght.
He smote, as it is tolde,
Syr Lybeous in the shelde
With his spere full right.
The shafte a-two did brest,
The hede steked faste
In place ther hit was pight;
Lybeous than can ber
With the poynte of his spere
The helme awey of the knyght.

The yongest brother full yerne
Upon a stede full sterne
As egir as eny lyon,
Hym thought his body can bren

But he myght, also yerne,
Ber Lybeous downe.
As werour oute of witt
Lybeous on the helme he hit
With a fell fauchon;
So styffe a stroke he sett,
Throwe helme and basnett,
Hit clave in Lybeous crowne.

Tho wax Lybeous agreved
When he felte on his hede
The swerde, with egir mode;
His bronde aboute he wende.
All that he hit he shende,
Alse werreour wilde and wode.
Full fast men saide thoo,
“A man agaynes two,
To fyght is nothinge gode!”
Harde he hewe on him,
And he, with strokys gryme,
Styfly agenes him stode.

But throwe Godis grace,
That other brother he canne brace
Under his right arme thoo;
He threwe him in that place
And in that selfe space
His lyfte arme brast atwoo.
The yongest say with sight
That he ne had mayne no myght
To fyght agaynes his foo;
To Lybeous up he helde
His spere and eke his shelde
And mercy cryed hym thoo.

Lybeous answerd, “Naye,
Thou ascapest not so away,
By Hym that holpe mankynde!
Thou and thi bretheren tweyne
Shull plight me your fayne
Ye shullen to Artor wende,
And sey, ‘Lord of renon,
As overcome of persoune,
A knyght me hedyr can sende
To yelde you toure and towne
And dwell in your bawndon,
Ever withoute ende.’

“And but ye will so doo,
Certis, I will you sloo,
Longe or hit be nyght.”
The knyghtis sworne two
They shulde to Arthur goo,
Her trowythe ther they plight.
Lybeus and that may
Rydden in her jornaye
Ther they haden tight.
Tyll that the therd day
They reden in game and playe,
He and that mayden bryght.

They reden even weste
Into the wilde forest
Taward Synadoun.
They nuste whate hem was best;
Taken they wolde fayne reste
And myght not come to towne.
In the grene greves
Thei dight a loge of leves,
With swerdys bryght and browne;
Therein they dwelled al nyght,
He and that mayden bright,
That was of fayre fassyon.

And evyr the dwerf can wake
That nothinge shulde betake
Here hors aweye with gyle.
For dred he ganne quake
Grete fyre he sawe make,
Thensse halfe a myle.
“Aryse, sir,” he sayde, “knyght!
To hors that ye were dight,
For dred of more perile;
Certis, I hire boste
And fele grete smylle of roste,
Be God and be Saint Gyle!”

Lybeous was stoute and fayre
And lepte upon his desteyre
And hent shelde and spere,
And whan that he nyghed nere,
As he rode tawarde the fyre,
Two gyauntes he sawe there.
That one was rede and lothelych,
That other black as eny pyche
Gressly bothe of chere!
The black helde in his arme
A mayde i-clypped in his barme
So bryght as blossom on brere.

The rede giaunte full yerne
A wylde bore canne torne
Aboute apon a spytt.
The fyre bright can bren,
The mayde cryed yerne
For some man shuld it wit,
And sayde ever, “Wayle-a-waye!
That ever I shulde bide this daye
With two devylles to sitt!
Helppe me, Mary mylde,
For love of thine childe,
That I be nought forgett!”

Than Lybeous: “Be Seint Jame!
To save this maiden from shame,
Hit were enpure enprice;
But for to fight with bothe in same,
Hit is no childes game —
They be so grym and gryse!”
He toke his course with a shafte,
As a knyght of kynde crafte,
And rode be right assyse.
The blacke giaunte can to smert
Thorugh lounge and hert,
That never after can rysse.

Tho flye the mayden shene
And thanked tho Heven Quene
That suche socoure hir sent;
Tho came the mayde Elene,
She and the dwarffe bydene,
And by the hande hir hentte,
And lad hir into the greves,
Into the loge of levys,
With well gode entent,
And besought swete Jhesus
Helpe Lybeus Disconeus
That he ner nought shent.

The rede gyaunte smote thore
To Sir Lybeous withe the bore
As wolfe oute of wede.
His dynnte he smote so sore
That Lybeous stede therefore
Downe to grownde yede.
Lybeous was redy bounde
And lepte on his arson
As sparkyll dothe on glede;
With hartt egyr as a lyon,
He faught with his fauchon
To quyte the gyaunte his mede.

Ever the gyaunte faught,
But at the secunde draught
His spere barst evyn a-twoo;
As man that was unsawght
A tronchon oute he laught
To fyght agaynes his foo,
And with the hede of the tre
He smote Lybeous shelde in thre:
Than was Lybeous woo.
As he his tronchon up haffe,
Syr Lybeous a stroke him gaffe:
His right arme fell hym froo.

The gyaunte fell to grownde:
Syr Lybeous, in that stownde,
Smote off his hede full right.
In Frensshe as it is ifounde,
He that he gave the fyrste wounde,
He servyd hym so aplyght.
And then toke the hedis two
And bare the mayden thoo,
For whom he made that fyght;
The mayde was glade and blythe
And thanked God fele sythe
That ever he was made knyght.

Quod Lybeous, “Gentil dame,
Tell me whate is thi name
And where ye were y-bore.”
“Syr,” she sayde, “Be Seynt John,
My fader is of riche fame
And wonnes yonder beforne:
An erle, an olde hore knyght,
That hathe ben man of myght:
His name is Syr Anctour.
They clepen me Violet;
The gyauntes had me besett
Aboute our castell yore.

Yesterday, in the evenynge,
I went on my playenge:
None harme Y ne thoughte.
The gyaunte, withoute lesynge,
Oute of the busshes con sprynge
And to this fyre me brought;
Of hem I had be shent
Nad God me socoure sent,
That all the worlde wrought.
He quyte thee thy mede,
That for us canne blede
And with His body us bought.”

Withoute more talkynge,
To hors con they sprynge
And reden forthe all in same,
And tolde the erle tydynge
Howe he wanne in fightynge
His doughter fro woo and shame.
Than were the hedis sent
To Kynge Arthour in present,
With mekyll glee and game;
And tho in courte fast roose
Syr Lybeous Dysconeus noble loose
And all his gentill fame.

The Erle, for his gode dede,
Yave him full riche mede:
Shelde and armes bryght,
And also a noble stede
That was gode at nede
In turnament and in fyght.
Lybeus and that maye
Redyn in her jurnaye,
Ther they logen tyght.
Thanne sawe thei in a parke
A castell store and starke
That richely was ydight.

Fayre walled hit was with stone:
Suche sawe he never none,
With cornyllus styff and stoute.
Sayd Lybeous, “Be Seynt John!
This were a worthy wone,
Who had hit wonne with dyntt.”
Than lough that byrd bryght
And sayde, “Alwey a knyght,
The best here all aboute,
Whoso will with him fyght,
By day or by nyght,
Lowe he maketh him loute.

“For love of his leman,
That is so fayre a woman,
He hathe done crye and grede
Whoso bryngeth a fayrer on,
A gerfawkon, white as swanne,
He shall have to his mede.
And yf she is not so bright,
With Jeffron he most fight;
And yf he may not spede,
His hede shall him be rafte
And sett upon a shafte
To seen in lenthe and brede.

The sothe to se wele

An hede or two up-right.”
Saide Lybeous als snelle,
“By God and Saint Michelle!
With Jeffran Y will fyght
And chalaunge that faukon
And sey I have in towne
A lemman two so bright;
And when he will hir a-see,
I shalle shewe him thee,
By day other by nyghte!”

The dwerfe said, “By Jhesus!
Gentill Lybeous Disconyous,
Thou puttist thee in grete perille.
Jeffron le Freudous
In syght hathe a queynte use
Knyghtis to begylle.”
Lybeous answerd ther,
“Therof have I no care,
Be God and be Seint Gile!
I shall see his face,
Or Y esteward passe
From this cité a myle.”

Wythoute more renowen
They dwellyd still in towne
All that nyght in pease.
On morowe Lybeous was bowne
To wyne him renon
And rose, withoute leese;
And armed him right sever
In that noble armwre
That Er Aunctours was.
His stede ganne to stride,
The dwarfe rode him beside
Taward the proude palleys.

Jeffrond le Frendys,
He rose and was with us,
In that morowe tide
To honoure swete Jhesus
And ses Lybeus Disconyous,
Come prickande with pryde!
Withoute any abode,
Agayne Libeous he rode
And lowde to hym can crye
With vaise sharpe and shille:
“Comest thu for gode or ille?
Tell me anone in highe!”

Quod Lybeous also tite,
“I have grete delyte
With thee for to fighte.
Thou seyste a foule dispite,
Ther is no woman so white
As thy leman be lighte,
And I have one in towne
Well fayre of fassyon,
In clothis when she is dight.
Therfor the gerfaukon
To Arthur kynge with crowne
Bringe I shall with right.”

Quod Jeffrey, “Gentyll knyght,
We shull proven aright
Whether the fayrer be.”
Quod Lybeous anone right,
“In Cordile cité with sight,
That eche man may hir see,
And amyddis the market
Bothe thei shull be sette,
To loke on, bonde and free.
Yff my leman is browne,
To wyn the jerfaukon
Juste Y will with thee.”

Quod Jeffrounse also snell,
“Forsothe, I graunte it wele;
This daye at undertide,
By God and by Seint Michell!
Oute atte this castell
To Cardyle we shull ride!”
Her glovis up they helde
Ther right in the felde,
As prynce proude in pryde.
Lybeus also snelle
Rode home to his ostell:
He nolde no lenger abide,

And hit the mayde Elyne,
That semely was to sene,
To buske and make hir bownde;
And seyde, “By Heven Quene,
Geffrouns lemman, the shene
Today shall come to towne;
Amydward the cité
That all men shall you see,
Of wede and fassyon;
Yff thu arte not so bryght,
With Jeffround I mot fight
To wynne the jerfaukon.”

The dwerf answerd and seid,
“Thow doste a savage dede,
For any man i-borne!
Thow wilt not do be rede
But faryst with thi madd hede
As lorde that will be lorne.
For His love, forthe we wende,
That died for all mankynde
And in Bedlem was borne!”
Lybeous said, “That were shame:
I hadd levyr, be Seint Jeme,
With wilde hors to be torne!”

The mayde Ellyne, also tighth,
In a robe of samyte
Gaylie ganne hir atyre
To do Lybeous prophite,
In kerchevys fayre and white
Aryved with gold wyre.
A velvet mantill gaye
Purfild with gryce and graye
She did aboute hir swyre;
The serkell upon hir moolde
Of precious stones and goolde:
The best of that empire.

Lebeous sate that daye
Upon a gode palfraye,
And reden forthe all three.
Eche man to other ganne saye,
“Here cometh a lady gaye:
Is semely unto see!”
Into the markete thei rode
And boldly ther abode,
Amydward the citee;
Then sawe thei Jeffron com ryde
And two squyers by his syde
And no more mayne.

He bare the shelde of gowlys,
Of sylver thre white owlys,
And of gold the bordure;
And of that same colours
And of that other floures
Was fyne golde and trappure.
The squiers that by him rode
That one bare shaftis gode,
Thre shaftis gode and sewre;
That other lade redy bownde
The joly gentill jerfaukowne:
The two ladyes were there.

And aftir hym come ryde
A lady proude in pryde,
Iclothed in purpyll palle.
The folke came fer and wide
To se them back and syde:
Howe gent she was and smalle.
Hir mantill was ryght fyne,
Ipowderd with ermyne,
Well riche and ryalle.
The sercle on hir molde
Of stones and of goolde
And many a ryche amayle.

As rose hir rudde was rede;
The here shone on hir hede
As gold wyre shynynge bryght.
Hir browes also blacke as sylke threde
Ibent in leynthe and brede;
Hir nose was streght and right.
Hir eyen gray as glasse,
Milke white was hir face:
So seid they that sawee that syght.
Hir swyre longe and smale;
Hir bewté to tellen alle
No man with mowthe myght.

But tho men did hem brynge
Two cheyers into the chepyng,
Her bewtees to discryve.
Then seid bothe olde and yonge,
Forthewithe withoute lesynge,
“Betwene hem was partye:
Geffroune leman is clere,
As rose on rise or in erbere,
Forsothe and nought to lye!
Ellyne the messangere
Ne were but a lawnder:
Of hir no loose make I.”

Quod Geffrounde ly Froundes,
“Sir knyght, by swete Jhesus,
This hauk thou haste lore!”
Quod Lybeous Disconeous,
“Suche was never myne use;
Juste I will therfore.
Yf thowe berest me downe,
Take my hede and the faukon,
As forwarde was thore;
And yf I ber downe thee,
The hauk shall wend with me,
Magré thyne hede, hore.”

Withoute more tale to telle,
They redyn downe in the felde
And with hem grete partye;
With cornellus styff and shelde
Eythir agayne othir in the felde
With well grete envye
Her shaftis brosten asondre,
Her dyntis ferden as thonder
That cometh oute of the skey;
Tabowres and trompours,
Heroudes and dissoures,
Her strokys con discrye.

Tho can Geffroune to lepe
And said, “Gyve me that will not breke:
A shaffte withoute cornall!
This yonge frely freke
Sytteth in his sadyll sete
As stone in castell wall;
I shall do him stoupe
Ovyr his hors crowpe
And gyve hym an evill falle:
Though he be as wise wereour
As Alysaunder or Kyng Arthur,
Lawncelot or Syr Percevalle.”

The knyghtis bothe twoo
Redyn togeder thoo,
With well grete rawndon;
Lybeos smote Jeffroun soo
That his shelde smote him froo
Into the felde adowne.
Then lowe all that ther was
And sayde, withoute lees,
Dukes, erle and baron,
That never yette they seye
A man that myght durye
A cours of Syr Jeffroune.

Geffoun toke his cours outeryght
And was nyghe oute of his witte
For he myghte not spede,
And rode agene als tighte
And Lebeous on the helme he hitte,
As wolfe that wolde at wede.
But Libeous sate so faste
That Jeffroune downe caste
Bothe hym and his stede:
Geffrounes backe to-brake
That men herd the crake
Aboute in leynthe and brede.

Than sayde all that ther weren
That Jeffroun had ilorne
The gentill jerfaukon;
To Lybeous they hym bare
And went, bothe lesse and more,
With hym into the towne.
Geffroun oute of the felde
Was borne home on his shelde
With care and reuthefull rowne;
The gerfaukon isent was
By a knyght that hight Cadas
To Arthur, kynge with crowne.

And wretyn alle the dede
With him he can to lede
The hauk tho Lybeous wan.
Tho Arthure hard hit redde,
To his knyghtis he sayde,
“Lybeous well wer can!
He hathe sent me with honour
Of foure fightis the floure,
Sethen he fyrst byganne.
I will him send tresoure
To spend with honour,
As falleth for suche a man.”

An hondered pounde honeste
Of floreyns with the best
He sent to Kardill towne.
Ther Lybeous made a feste
That forty dayes it leste,
As lord of grete renowne;
And at the six wokis ende
They toke her leve to wende:
Duke, erle, and baroune.
Syr Lybeous and that may
Tokyn her right waye
Tawarde Synadowne.

As they redyn by a lowe,
Hornes herd they blowe.
And huntynge grete of gile.
The dwerf saide, in a thorowe,
“That horne wele I knowe,
For youre frely sale:
Hit blowis motis jolelye,
That servid sometyme my lady,
Semely in hir sale.
When she was takyn with gile,
He fled for grete perile
West into Wyralle.”

As they redyn talkynge
They sawe a rache com renynge
Overthwerte the waye.
Than said olde and yonge,
From her first begynynge,
Thay sawe never none so gaye:
He was of all coloures
That man may se of floures
Bytwene Mydsomer and Maye.
The mayde saide, alse snell,
“Sawe I never no jowell
So lykinge to my paye,

“So that I hit aught!”
Lybeous as tight it caught
And toke hit the mayden clene.
Thay ridden forthe all softe
And tolde howe knyghtis faught
For birdes bryght and shene.
Ne had they redyn but a while,
The mountence of a myle,
In that forest grene,
They sawe an hynde come strike
And two grewndis like
The racche that I of mene.

They hovyd under a lyne
And sawe the course of the hynde,
Lybeous that was so fre.
Then sawe they com behynde
A knyght iclothed in jende
Uppon a baye destré;
His bugill canne he to blowe
For houndis shulde him knowe
In whate stede that he were.
He seide to hem that throwe,
“That racche do I owee,
Agone is eight yere.

Frendis, lettes him goo!”
Lybeous answerd thoo,
“That shall never betide:
With myn hondis two
I gave it the mayden me froo
That hovith me bysyde.”
Quod Sir Otis de Lile,
“Thou puttist thee in grete perile,
To bycker and thou abide.”
Lybeous sayde, “Be Seint Gile,
I ne gyf nought of thi gile,
Chorle, though thou chide!”

Quod Sir Otys de Lyle,
“Syr, thi wordis ar wile,
Chorle was never my name.
My fader an erle was awhile,
And the countesse of Carlehille,
Forsothe, was my dame.
Yf I were armed nowe,
Redy as arte thowe,
We shulden fight in same.
But yf thow the racche levyn,
Thowe pleyest, longe or evyn,
A wondyr wilde game!”

Quod Lybeous, also prest,
“Therof, sir, do thy beste:
The rache with me shall wende.”
Thay token her way evyn west
Into that faire forest,
As the dwerf hem kende.
Syr Otis, with grete errour,
Rode home to his toure
And after his frendis did send;
And tolde hem anone rightis
Howe one of Arthur is knyghtis
So shamefully canne him shende;

And his racche was inome.
Than sware they, all and some,
That traytur shulde ben itake
And never agene home come,
Though he were the grymmer grome
Than Launcelet de Lake.
They dighten hem to armes
With swerdys and giyarnes,
As werre that shulde awake.
Knyghtis and squyers
Leppyn on her desters,
For her lordis sake.

Upon an hill full hie
Syr Lybeous ther he seye,
Rydinge forthe pase by pase.
To hym they con crye,
“Traytor, thou shalt die,
Todaye for thye trespace!”
Lybeus ayene behelde
Howe full was the felde,
So mekyll folke that ther was.
He sayde, “Mayde Ellyne,
For this racche, Y wene,
Me cometh a carefull case.

I rede ye you withdrawe
To the wode shawe,
Youre hedis for to hide;
For Y am frely fayne,
Though Y shulde be slayne,
Bekyr with hem to abyde.”
Into the forest he rode
And ther he boldly abode.
As avauntors proude in pryde,
With bowes and arblast,
They shotten to him faste
And made hym woundis wyde.

Syr Lybeous stede ranne
And bare downe hors and man,
For nothinge wolde he spare.
All men sayde than,
“This is the devyll Satan,
That mankynde will forfare.”
For whomso Lybeous araught
At his fyrst drawght,
He slepte for evermore.
But sone he was besette,
As dere is in the nette,
With grymly woundis sore.

For twelve knyghtis, all prest,
He sawe come oute of the west,
In armys bryght and clere.
Alday thay haden yrest
And thoughtyn in that forest
To slee Lybeous that knyght.
Of sewte they weren all twelve,
That one was the lorde himselve,
In ryme to redyn aright.
They smotyn to hym at onys
And thoughten to breke his bonys
And to fellyn hym in fyght.

Tho myght men hire dynge
And rounde rappis rynge,
Amonges hem all in feere:
The sparkylles conne to sprynge
Forthe, witheoute lesynge,
From sheld and helmes clere.
Lybeous slowe of hem three,
The fourthe begon to flee
And durste nought neye him nere.
The lorde lefte in the stoure
And his sonnes foure,
To syllen her lyves dere.

Tho runne rappes ryffe:
He one agaynes fyve
Faughte as he were wode.
Nye downe they con hym dryve;
So watyr dothe off the skythe,
Off hym ranne the bloode.
Whan Lybeous was ney spilte,
His swerde barst in the hilte:
Than was he madde of mode.
The lord a stroke he sete
Throwe helme and basnett,
That in the skolle hit stode.

In swounynge he fel downe
Upon his ferther arsoune,
As man that was all mate.
His fone weren full bownde
To persyne his aketowne,
Bothe mayle and plate.
When he ganne sore to smerte,
He pulled up his herte
And sterryd up his state;
An ax he hente him nyghe,
That henge by his thighe:
Almost him thought to late.

Tho he steryd him as a knyght:
Thre stedis adowne right
He slowe at strokys three.
The lorde sawe that in sight
And of his stede he alyght:
Away he began to flee.
Lybeous no lenger abode
But aftyr hym he rode.
Under a chesteyne tree
Ther he hadde him qwelled,
But that the lorde hym yelde
At his will for to bee,

And, by certeyne stente,
Tresure, londe and rentte,
Castell, hall and boure,
Lybeous therto assente,
By forward so that he wente
Unto Kynge Arthure
And sayde, “Lorde of renowne,
As overcome and prisowne,
I am to thine honowre.”
The lorde graunted his wille,
Bothe lowde and stylle,
And ladde him to his toure.

Anone the mayden Ellyne
With gentillmen fyftene
Was ifett to the castell.
She and the dwerffe bydene
Tolden all the dedis kene
Of Lybeous, howe it befell,
And whiche persones foure
He sent to Kynge Arthure,
That he wanne fayre and wele.
The lord was well blythe
And thanked fele sythe
God and Seint Michell

That swyche a nobyll knyght
Shulde with werre in fyght
Wynne his lady free.
To covere with mayne and myght,
Lybeous a fourtenyght
Ther with him canne lende.
He did helen his wounde
And made hym hole and sownde
By the fowrtenyght ende;
Than Lybeous and that maye
Toke her right waye
To Synadon to wende.

The lorde, withoute dwellynge,
Went to Arthur the kynge
And for presowne hym yelde,
And tolde him the begynnynge
Howe suche a knyght in fyghtyng
Wan hym in the felde.
Kynge Arthur had gode game,
And so had alle in same,
That herde that tale ytolde.
And chosyn hym prophytable,
By knyght of the Rounde Table,
To fyght with spere and shelde.

Nowe rest we here a while
Of Sir Otys de Lyle
And tell we forthe oure talis,
Howe Lybeous rode many a myle
And sey awntours the while
And Irlande and in Walys.
Hytt befell in June, Y wene,
Whan fenell hangeth al grene
Abowte in semely saale;
The somerys day is longe,
Mery is the fowlis songe
And notis of the nyghtyngale.

That tyme Lybeous canne ryde
Be a reveres syde
And sawe a fayre cité
With palys prowde in pryde
And castelles high and wyde
And gates grete plenté.
He axed whate hit hight;
The mayden sayde anone right,
“Syr, I will telle thee:
Men clepeth this Il de Ore,
Here be fightis more;
Ther is werr in every countré.

For a lady of price,
Roddy as rose on rice,
This contré is in dowte;
A gyaunt that heght Maugys,
Nowhere his pere is,
Hir hathe besett aboute.
He is as blacke as pyche,
Nowher is none suche
Of dedis sterne and stowte;
Whate knyght so passyth the bryge
His armys he moste downe legge
And to the gyaunte alowte.

He is thirty fote on leynthe
And myche more of strenthe
Than other knyghtis fyve;
Syr Lybeous woll bethynke thee
That thou with him ne macched bee:
He is gryme to discryve.
He berreth on every browe
As it were brystillus of a sowe;
His hede grete as an hyve,
His armys the lenthe of an elle,
His fystis arne full felle
Dyntys with to dryve.”

Quod Lybeous, “Mayden hynde,
My way nowe will Y wende
For alle his strokys ylle.
If God will me grace sende,
Or this day come to ende
With fight Y hoppe hym fell.
I have sene grete okys
Fallyn with wyndes and strokys,
And the lytell stande full stille.
Thoughe that Y be litell,
To hym will I smyte,
Let God do his wylle!”

They roden forthe all three
Tawarde that fayre cité
That men calleth Ile Dolour.
Maugys they con see
Upon a bryge of tree,
Bolde as a wilde bore.
His shelde was blacke as pycche,
And all his armour suche:
Thre mawmentis therin wes,
Of gold gayly gilte;
A spere in honde he helde
And his childe him before.

He kryede to hym in spyte,
“Sey, thou fellaue in white,
Tell me whate arte thowe!
Torne home agene tite,
For thyne owne prophite,
Yf thow lovyst thy prowe.”
Lybeous sayde anone right,
“Kynge Arthure made me knyght,
To hym Y made avowe
That I shulde never turne my backe;
Therfor, thow devyll black,
Make thee redy nowe!”

Syr Lybeus and Maugis
On stedis proude in prise
Togeder redyn full ryght.
Bothe lordis and ladyes
Laynen in her toures
For to se that syght;
And praied to God bothe lowde and stille,
Yf it were His swete wille,
Save that Crysten knyght,
And that fyl gyawnte
That levyd on Turmagaunte
This day to dye in fighte.

Her shaftes borsten on sonder,
Her dyntis ferd as thonder:
The pecis canne of sprynge.
Euche man had wonder
That Lybeous ne had gon under
At the fyrste begynnynge.
They drewe swerdis bothe
As men that were wrothe
And gonne togedir dynge;
Sir Lybeous smote Maugis soo
That his shelde fell him froo
And in the felde canne flynge.

Maugis was qweynt and qwede
And smote Lybeous stede on the hede
And dasshid oute the brayne;
The stede fell downe dede,
Syr Lybeous nought sayde
But stertt hym up agayne,
And an ax hent ybowne
That henge by his arsowne
And stroke to hym with mayne
Through Maugis stede swyre:
He forkarve bone and lyre
That the hede fell in the playne.

On fote bothe they fyghte,
Discryven no man myght
The strokys betwis hem two;
Bothe woundes they laughte,
For they were unsaught
And either other is foo.
From the oure of pryme
Tyll hit were evensonge tyme,
To fyghtyn they were throo.
Sir Lybeous thrested soore
And sayde, “Maugis, thine ore!
To drinke thou lett me goo.

“And Y shall graunte thee
Whate bone thowe aske of me,
Swiche case if thee betide;
For grete shame hit wolde be
A knyght for thurste to slee,
And no maner parfyte.”
Maugis graunted his will
To drynke all his fille,
Withoute more dispite.
As he lay on the banke
And throw his helme dranke,
Maugis smertly hym smytte

That in the rever he flye fylle:
His armoure every dele
Was wette and evill ydight;
But up he sterte as snelle
And seyd, “Be Seint Michell,
Nowe am Y two so light!
Weneste thou, fendys fere,
Uncristened that Y were
Tylle Y sawe thee with sight?
I shall for this baptyse
Quyte well thi service,
Thorough grace of God almyght!”

Then newe fyght byganne:
Eyther to other ranne
And deltyn dyntes strange;
Well many a gentilman
And ladyes as white as swanne
For Lybeous her hondys wrange;
For Maugis in the felde
Forkarfe Lybeous’ shelde
Thorough dynte of armes longe.
Than Lybeous ranne awaye
There Maugis shelde laye
And up he gan hit fange.

And ran agayne to hym;
With strokys sharpe and gryme
Eyther other ganne assayle.
Till the day was dymme
Upon the watir brym
Bytwene hem was bataylle.
Lybeous was werreour wight
And smote a stroke of myght
Thorowe jepowne, plate, and mayle,
Thorowe the shulderbone
That his right arme anone
Fell in the fled, saunce fayle.

The gyaunte this ganne see,
That he shulde slayne bee:
He fledde with myght and mayne.
Syr Lybeous after ganne tee
With sterne stroky thre
He smote his backe on twayne.
The gyaunte ther belevyde;
Syr Lybeous smote off his heved:
Thereof he was fayne.
He bare the hede into the towne;
With a fayre processyoune
The folke come hym agayne.

A lady bright as floure,
That men calleth la Dame Amoure,
Resseyved him wele and fayre
And thanked hym with honour
That he was hir socoure
Agayne that giaunte file.
To chambyr she him ledys
And did off all his wedis
And clothed hym in palle,
And profirde him with worde
For to be hir lorde
Of cité and castell.

Lybeous graunted hir in haste
And love to hir ganne caste,
For she was bright and shene.
Alas, she hadde be chaaste!
For ever at the laste
She dyde hym traye and tene.
For twelve monthes and more
As Lybeous dwelled thore
He forgate mayde Elyne,
That never he myght outebreke
For to helpe to awreke
Of Synadowne the qwene.

For the faire lady
Cowthe more of sorcerye
Than other suche fyve;
She made hym suche melodye
Of all maner mynstralsye
That any man myght discryve.
Whan he sawe hir face
Hym thought that he was
In paradice on lyve;
With false lies and fayre
Thus she blered his eye:
Evill mote she thryve!

Till it befell upon a daye
He mete Elyne that may
Beside that castell toure;
To hym than ganne she saye,
“Knyght, thou arte false in thi laye
Ageynes Kynge Arthure!
For the love of o woman
That mekyll of sorcery canne
Thow doste thee grete dissehonour:
My lady of Synadowne
May longe lye in preson,
And that is grete doloure!”

Syr Lybeus herde hir speke;
Hym thought his hert gan breke
For sorowe and for shame.
At a postsren isteke
There he ganne outebreke
Fro that gentyll dame,
And toke with hym his stede,
His shelde, his iren wede,
And reden forthe all in same.
Hir stywarde stoute and fayre
He made his squyer:
Jurflete was his name.

They rodyn faste as they maye
Forthe on her jornaye
On stedis baye and browne;
Till on the third daye
They sawe a cité gaye:
Men clepen hit Synadowne;
With castelles high and wide
And palysed proude in pryde,
Worke of fayre facion;
But Lybeous Disconyous
Had wonder of that use
That he saye men do in towne.

Cor and fenne full faste,
That men hade ere oute caste,
They gadered ynne iwysse,
Syr Lybeous axid in haste,
“Tell me, mayden chaste,
Whate betokeneth this?
They taken in the goore
That ar was oute yboore:
Me thynketh they do amysse.”
Than seyd mayde Ellyne,
“Syr knyght, withoute wene,
I tell thee whate hit is.

“No knyght, for nesshe ne harde,
Though he shulde be forfarde,
Getteth here none ostell,
For doute of the stywarde
That hight Syr Lanwarde,
Constable of that castelle.
Go ryde into the castell gate
And axe thine inne theratte,
Bothe fayre and wele;
And ere he do thi nede,
Of justis he will thee bede,
Be God and be Seint Michell!

And yf he beryth thee downe
His trumpetis shall be bowne
Her bemes high to blowe;
Then over all Synadowne
Bothe mayde and garson
This fen on thee to thorowe.
To whiche lond that yowe wende,
Ever to youre lyves ende,
For kowarde thou worthe knowe;
And thus may Kynge Arthure
Lesyn his honoure
For thyn dedis slowe.”

Quod Lybeous als tite,
“That were a foule disspyte
For any knyght on lyve!
To do Arthure prophyte
And maketh that lady quyte
Thedyr will Y dryve.
Syr Gyrflete, make thee yare,
To juste with thee will not spare,
Hastely and blyve.”
They reden forthe at the gate
Right to the castell yate,
With faire shaftis fyve.

And axed ther ostell
At that fayre castell
For auntors knyghtis
The porter faire and wele
Lete hym yn full snell
And axed him anone rightis
Who was here governours;
And they seid, “Kynge Arthure,
Man of moste myghtis;
Well of curtaysie
And flloure of chevalyre
To fellen his fone in fightis.”

The porter prophitable
To his lorde the constable
Sone this tale tolde;
And sayde, “Withoute fable,
Syre, of the Rowne Table
Ar comen two knyghtis bolde;
That one is armyd full severe
In roose rede armoure
With thre lyons of goolde.”
The lord was glad and blythe
And sayde, also swythe,
Justyn with hym he wolde.

And bade hem make hem yare
Into the felde to fare,
Withoute the castell gate.
The porter wolde not spare:
As a greyhounde dothe to an hare
To hem ranne to the gate
And sayde anone rightis,
“Ye auntrous knyghtis,
For nothinge ye latte:
Looke your sheldis be stronge
And your shaftis longe,
Soketys and vaumplate,

And rydeth into the felde:
My lord, with shafte and shelde,
Will with you playe.”
Sir Lybeous spake wordis bolde:
“That is a tale ytolde
Lykyng to my paye!”
Into the felde they rode,
And boldly ther abode
As bestis brought to baye.
Lambard sent his stede,
His shelde, his iren wede:
Hir tire was stoute and gaye.

His shelde was asure fyne,
Thre beer hedis therinne
As blacke as bronde ybrent;
The bordure of ermyne:
Was none so quaynte a gynne
Fro Carlile into Kentt;
And of that silfe peyntoure
Was surcott and trappoure,
In worlde wherso he went.
Thre squiers by hym ryde,
Thre shaftis thei bare him myde
To dele with doughty dynte.

Tho that stoute stywarde
That hight Sir Lancharde,
Was armed to the ryghtis,
He rode to the feldewarde
As it were a lebarde,
And ther abode thes knyghtis.
He sette his shelde in grate:
Almoste hym thought to late
When he hym seigh with sightis.
Lybeous rode to hym thare
With a shafte all square,
As man of moste myghtis.

Ayther smote other in the shelde
That the peces flowen in the felde,
Sothe, withoute wene;
Euche man to other tolde,
Bothe yonge and olde,
“This yonge knyght is kene!”
Lambarte his cours outeright
As werour oute of wytte,
Fro ire and herte tene,
And sayde, “Brynge me a shafte:
Yf this knyght con his crafte,
Right sone hit shall be sene!”

Tho toke they shaftis rownde
With cornelys sharpe ygrownde
And reden with grete raundon.
Eyther provyd that stownde
To gyve other dethes wounde,
With herte eger as a lyon.
Lambarte smote Lybeous soo
That his shylde fell him froo
And in the felde fell adowne:
So harde he hym hitte
That unnethis hy myght sytte
Upryght in his arsoune

His schafte brake with power;
Lybeous smote hym in the laynore
On his helme so bryght:
Pesawe, ventayle, and gorger
Fly forthe withe the helme so clere,
And Sir Lambarde upright
Sate and rocked in his sadylle
As a childe in his cradill,
Withouten mayne and myght.
Every man toke othir by the lappe
And lowghen and couthe her handis clappe:
Barowne, burgeys, and knyght.

Syr Lambartt thought to juste bett:
Another helme hym was yfett
And a shafte unmete,
And wan they togeder mette
Eythir to other his shelde sette
Strokys grysly and grete.
Syr Lambartis shafte to-braste,
And Lybeous shoved soo faste,
In sadylles ther they sete,
That the constable, Sir Lambertt,
Felte over his hors backwarde,
Withoute more beyete.

Syr Lamberd was ashamed sore;
Quod Sir Lybeous, “Wilt thou more?”
And he answerd, “Naye!
Sethe the tyme that Y was borne
Sawe I never me beforne
So rydynge to my paye.
Be my trouthe my herte is thine:
Thowe arte of Sir Gawynes kynne,
That is so stoute and gaye.
Yf thou shalt for my lady fyght,
Welcome to me this nyght
In sekyr and trouthe in faye!”

Lybeous sayd, “Sekerlye,
Fyght Y shall for thy ladye,
By heste of Kynge Arthure;
But Y ne wote wherfor ne whye,
Ne who dothe hyr that tormentrye,
To brynge hir in dolour;
A mayde that was hir messanger
And a dwerf brought me here,
Her to socoure.”
Lambarde sayde at that stownde,
“Welcome, knyght of the Table Rownde,
Be God and Seint Saveour!”

And the mayden Elyne
Was sen for with knyghtis kene
By-for Sir Lambarde.
She and the dwarfe bydene
Tolde of the dedis kene
That he did thedirwarde,
And how that Sir Lybeous
Faught with fele shrewes
And hem nothinge spared.
Tho were they all blythe
And thanked God fele sythe,
God and Seint Leonarde.

Anone with mylde chere
They sett hym to sopere
With mekell gle and game.
Lybeous and Lambard yfere
Of aventours that ther were
Talkeden bothe in same.
Lybeous, withoute fable,
Seyd, “Sir constable,
Whate is the knyghtis name
That holdeth in prisoune
That lady of Synadon,
That is gentyll a dame?”

Quod Lambert, “Be Seint John!
Knyght, sir, is ther none
That durste hir away lede:
Twoo clerkys ben hir foone,
Fekyll of bloode and bone,
That havyth ydoo this dede.
They ar men of mynstrye,
Clyrkys of nigermansye,
Here arte for to rede.
Irayne ys that o brother
And Mabon is that other
For whome we are in dred.

“Iran and that Mabon
Have made in this towne
A paleys queynte of gynne:
Ther nys erle nor baroun
That bereth hert as a lyon,
That durst come therin.
Hit is by nygrymauncye
Iwrought with fayreye,
That wondir hit is to wynne;
Therin lyeth in presowne
My lady of Synadon,
That is of knyghtis kynne.

“Oftyn we hire hir crye:
To sene hir withe none eye,
Therto have we no myght.
They do hir tormentyre
And all the velenye
And dreche hir day and nyght.
This Mabon and Yrayne
Have sworne her othe certayne
To dethe they will hir dight,
But she graunte hem tyll
To do Mabones will
And geven him hir right.

Of all this kyngdome fayre
Than is my lady ayre,
To welde all with wynne.
She is meke and bonoure,
Therfor we ar in spere
Luste they done hir synne.”
Quod Lybeous Disconyous,
“By the love of Jhesus,
That lady shall Y wynne:
Bothe Mabon and Irayne
I shall hewen in the playne
The hedys by the chynne.”

Tho was no more tale
In the castell, grete and smale,
But souped and made hym blythe.
Baronys and burgeyses fale
Comyn to that semely sale
For to listen and lithe
Howe Sir Lambert had wrought
And yf the knyght were oughte,
His crafte for to kythe.
They fownden hem sette in fere
And talkynge at her sopere
Of knyghtis stoute and stythe.

Tho toke they ease and reste
And lykynges of the beste
In the castell that nyght.
On morowe was Lybeous prest
Of armes of the best:
Full fresshe he was to fight.
Lambarde lad him that gate
To the castell yate
And fonde it full upright.
Further durste hym none brynge,
Forsothe, withoute lesynge,
Barowne, burgeys, ne knyght.

But turned home agayne,
Save Sir Jerflete his swayne
Wolde with hym ryde.
Lybeous swore, certayne,
That he wolde see his brayne
Yf he wolde lenger abyde.
To the castell he rode
And with Lambard abode,
To Jhesus than they cryed
He shulde hem send tidyngis glad
Of hem that longe hadde
Distroyed ther welthes wide.

Syr Lybeaus, knyght curtays,
Rode into the paleys
And at the hall he alight;
Trumpys, hornys, sarvysse,
Right byfor that highe deys,
He herde and saughe with sight,
And amydd the hall floore
A fyre well starke and store
That tente and brende bright.
Ferther in he yede
And toke with hym his stede,
That halpe him in his fyght.

Lybeous inner ganne passe
To beholde that place:
The halys in the halle;
Of men more nor lasse
Ne sawe he body nor face
Butt mynstralis cladde in palle.
With harpe, lute, and roote
And orgone noyse of note,
Grete gle they maden all;
With sotill and sawtery,
Suche maner mynstralsye
Was never within wall.

Byfor euche mynstrale stode
A torche bothe fayre and gode
Itende and brente bright.
Sir Lybeous inner yode
To witten with egir mode
Who shulde with hym fight.
He yede into the corners
To beholde the pilleres
That semely was of sight,
Of jasper and of fyne cristale,
Iflorysshed with amyall,
That was of moche myght.

The dores weren of brasse,
The wondowes all of glasse,
Wrought with imagerye;
The halle ypeynted was:
Nowher none fayrer nas
That he hade seyne withe eye.
He sett hym on the deys:
The mynstrales weryn in pees,
That were so tryste and trye;
The torchis that brent bright
They queynte anone right:
The mynstrellys weren awaye.

The dorres and wyndowes all
They betten in the hall
As hit were dynte of thonder;
The stones of the walle
On hym conne they falle,
And therof had he wonder.
The deys began to shake,
The erthe began to quake;
As he sate therunder,
The halle roofe unlyke
And the vasure eke,
As it wolde all in sonder.

As he sate thus dismayed,
He holde hymselfe dysseyved,
Sertis, herde he nyghe;
Thoo he was better apayde
And to hymselfe sayde,
“Yett Y hope to playe!”
He loked into the felde
And sawe, with spere and shelde,
Men in armes twayne,
In pured pure armoure
Was lyngell and trappure,
Wyth golde gaylye dight.

That one rode into the hall
And byganne for to call,
“Syr knyght auntours!
Suche case is nowe befall,
They thou be knyght in palle
Fyght thou moste with us!
I holde thee qwaynte of gynne
And thou that lady wynne
That is so precious.”
Quod Lybeous anone ryght,
“Fresshe Y am to fight,
By the helpe of Jhesus!”

Syr Lybeous with gode will
And into his sadyll gan skylle,
A launce in honde he hente,
And titely rode hem tyll,
His fomen for to felle,
Suche was his talent.
Whanne thaye togeder smete,
Upon her shelde hit sette,
With sperys doughtely of dynte;
Mabounes launce to-braste,
Tho was he sore agaste
And held hym shamely shent.

And with that stroke fellowne
Syr Lybeous bare Maboune
Overe his hors tayle;
For his hynder arson
Brake and fell adawne
Into the felde saunce fayle;
And neygh he had him slayne,
But there come Sir Irayne,
In helme, hawbrek of mayle;
So fresshe he was to fight,
He thought anone righte
Syr Lybeous to assaylle.

Sir Lybeous was of hym ware,
A spere to hym he bare
And lefte his brother stille;
Suche a dynte he yave thare
That his haumbryk to-tare:
That liked bi Irayne ylle.
Her lawnses they borsten a-two,
Her swerdys they drewen thoo,
With hert grym and grylle;
They con togeder fight,
Eyther provid with right
Other for to spyll.

As they togedyr gan hewe,
Maboune, the more shrewe,
In felde up aroos;
He herde and well knewe
That Irayne yave dyntis fewe:
Therof hym sore agroos.
To hym he went full right
To helpe to fellen in fight
Lybeous of noble loose.
But Lybeous faught with bothe,
Though they weren wrothe,
And kepte hymselfe close.

Tho Yran sawe Maboune
He smote strokys fellon
To Sir Lybeous withe ire.
That evyn he karfe a-downe,
Byfor his forther arsowne,
Lybeous stedys swyre.
Lybeous was werreour slyghe
And smote evyn to his thighe:
He karfe bone and lyre;
Ne halpe hym not his armour,
His chawntementis ne his chambur:
Downe fell that sory syre.

Lybeous of his hors alight
With Mabone for to fight,
In felde bothe in feere.
Swyche strokys they dight
That sparkelys sprongen downe right
From shelde and helmes clere;
As they bothe togeder smytte,
Her bothe swerdys mette:
As ye may se hem bere.
Mabon, the more shreweos,
Forkarfe the swerde of Sir Lybeous
Attweyne quyte and skere.

Tho was Lybeous asshamed
And in his harte sore agramed,
For he had lorne his swerde,
And his stede was lamed
And he shulde be defamed
To Arthur kynge his lorde.
To Yrayne swythe he ranne
And hente his swerde up thanne:
Was sharpe on eche a syde;
And ranne to Maboune right
And faste they gonne to fight:
Of love was ther no woorde!

But evyr faught Maboune
As hit were a lyoune
Sir Lybeous for to sloo;
But Lybeous karfe adowne
His shilde with his fawchon,
That he toke Irayne froo.
In the right tale ytolde
The lyfte arme with the shelde
Awaye he smote alsoo;
Than cryed Mabon hym tyll:
“Thi strokys arne full ylle;
Gentill knyght nowe hoo!

Ay will yelde me to thee,
In love and grete laughté,
At thine owne wille,
And that lady fre
That is in my powsté
Takyn Y will thee tille.
For thorough the swerdis dynt
My honde Y have itynte:
The venym will me spille;
I venymed hem bothe,
Certeyn, withouten othe,
Therwith oure fone to felle.”

Quod Lybeous, “Be my thryfte,
I will nought of thi yefte,
For all this worlde to wynne;
But lay on strokys swyfte:
One of us shall other lefte
The hede by the chynne!”
Tho Mabon and Lybeous
Faste togeder hewes
And slaked not for no synne;
Lybeous was more of myght:
He clove his helme downe right
And his hede a-twynne.

Tho Mabon was slayne
He ranne ther was Yrayne
With a fawchoune in his fiste;
For to cleve his brayne:
I tell you for certayne,
To fight more hym lyste!
But whan he come there,
Away he was ybore:
Into whate stede he nuste.
Tho sought he hym, for the nonys,
Wyde in all the wonys:
In trewthe well he truste.

And whan he fonde him noughte
He helde himselfe bekaughte
And byganne to syke sore,
And seide, in worde and thought,
“This will be dere bought
That he is fro me fare!
He will with sorcerye
Do me tormentrye:
That is my moste care.”
Sore he sate and sighte,
He nuste whate do he myght,
He was of blysse all bare.

As he sate thus in halle,
Oute at a stone walle
A wyndowe fayre unfelde:
Grete wondyr, withall,
In his herte ganne falle
And he sate and behelde.
A worme ther ganne oute pas
With a womanes face:
“Yonge Y am and nothinge olde.”
Hir body and hir wyngis
Shone in all thynchis,
As amell gaye and gilte.

Hir tayle was mekyll unnethe,
Hir peynis gryme and grete,
As ye may listen and lere.
Syr Lybeous swelt for swete
There he sate in his sete,
As alle had ben in fyre;
So sore he was agaste
Hym thought his herte tobraste
As she neyhid hym nere.
And ere that Lybeous wiste,
The worme with mouth him kyste
And clypped aboute the swyre.

And aftyr this kyssynge
Off the worme tayle and wynge
Swyftly fell hir froo:
So fayre, of all thinke,
Woman, withoute lesynge,
Sawe he never ere thoo;
But she was moder naked,
As God had hir maked:
Therfor was Lybeous woo.
She sayde, “Knyght gentyll,
God yelde thee thi will
My foon thou woldest sloo!

Thowe haste slayne nowthe
Two clerkys kowthe,
That wroughten by the fende.
Este, west, northe and sowthe,
With maystres of her mouthe,
Many man con they shende.
Thorowe ther chauntement
To a worme they had me went,
In wo to leven and lende,
Tyll I had kyssed Gaweyne,
That is doughti knyght, certayne,
Or some of his kynde.

Syr, for thou savyst my lyfe,
Castellys fyfty and fyve
Take Y will thee till,
And mysylfe to be thy wyfe,
Styll witheoute any stryfe,
And hit be Arthures will.”
Lybeous was glad and blythe
And lepte to hors als swythe
And that lady stille;
But sore he dradded Irayne
For he was nought islayne,
With speche lyste he do him spylle.

To the castell Lybeous rode,
Therfor the folke abode
And beganne to crye.
Syr Lybeous to Lambard tolde
And to other knyghtis bolde
Howe he hem thre ganne gye,
And how Mabon was slayne
And wounded was Irayne,
Thorowe myght of Marye.
And howe her lady bright
To a dragon was ydight,
Thorowe her chawnterye,

And thorow the cosse of a knyght
Woman she was aplight,
A comly creature:
“But she stode before,
As naked as she was bore,
And sayde, ‘Nowe am Y sure
My fone thou haste slayne,
Mabon and Yrayne:
In pees thou dost me brynge.’”
When Lybeous Disconyous
Had tolde the stywarde thus,
Bothe worde and endeng,

A robe of purpyll riche,
Pillured with pure grice,
He sent hir on hyenge;
Kerchewes and garlandis ryche
He sent hir preveliche,
A byrd hit ganne hir bringe;
Whan she was redy dight
She went with many a knyght
To hir owne wonnynge.
All the folke of Synadowne
With a well fayre procession
Her lady conne home brynge.

When she was comen to towne,
Of gold and stonys a crowne
Upon hir hede was sett,
And were gladde and blythe
And thanked God fele sythe
That hir balys were bett.
Than all the lordis of dignité
Did hir homage and fewté,
As hit was dewe dette.
And euche lord in his degré
Gave hir yeftis grete plenté,
When they with hir mett.

Sevyn dayes they dide sojoure
With Sir Lambert in the towre
And all the peeple in same;
Tho went thei with honour
Taward Kynge Arthoure
With mekyll gle and game;
They thanked God with al His myghtis,
Arthur and all his knyghtis,
That he hade no shame.
Arthur gave als blyve
Lybeous that lady to wyfe,
That was so gentill a dame.

The myrrour of that brydale
No man myght tell with tale,
In ryme nor in geste:
In that semely saale
Were lordys many and fale
And ladies full honeste.
There was riche service
Bothe to lorde and ladyes
To leste and eke to moste;
Thare were gevyn riche giftis
Euche mynstrale her thriftis,
And some that were unbrest.

Fourty dayes thei dwelden
And ther here feste helden
With Arthur the kynge.
As the Frensshe tale us tolde,
Arthur kyng with his knyghtis bolde
Home he gonne hem brynge.
Sevyn yere they levid same
With mekyll joye and game,
He and that swete thynge.
Nowe Jhesu Criste, oure Savioure
And his moder, that swete floure,
Grawnte us gode endynge. Amen.

Explicit Lybious Disconyas.
(see note); (t-note)
Help them in their
Who listen; (see note)
Intelligent; skillful warrior
valiant; deed
(see note)
At the edge of the woods; (see note)
[more] honorable
Round; (see note); (t-note)
tell of

Noble; handsome
determination; (t-note)
see (have contact with)

wild; (see note); (t-note)
violence; (t-note)
companions; together
fear of a wicked reputation

worthy; beloved

because; face
named; Beautiful Son; (see note); (t-note)

as far as I know
What name his mother had given him; (t-note)
Until one day (At that time)
deer; amusement
found; where
armor strong; beautiful
Dead; fully subdued

knight’s armor; (see note)
Dressed himself; (t-note)

done; in fact
youth took himself; (see note)
Where lived

(see note)
Christ; protect
from a country far away
appeal (request); (see note)

outlandish (ignorant); (see note)

now; (see note)
recognize; at once

Tell; delay
What is your name truly
Never saw I [anyone] in my presence
[One] so handsome

By; James; (see note)
do not know

for amusement
Called; Beautiful Son; (see note)

By; Denis; (see note)
knows not what he is called; (t-note)

gathered here together; (t-note)
handsome; noble
called; mother
Whoever she is
Call; for practical purposes
The Fair Unknown; (see note)

more; understand in turn

Certainly might he be called

at once
On; very same
Now [that]; (see note)
(see note)

foemen (enemies)
test (assail); (see note); (t-note)
(see note)

boon; requested; (see note)
would be; happy

grant; your request

you are too young

From what


Washed; supper; (see note)
Wildfowl; venison
lords; renown
Enough; eat
Nor had; sat
For a few minutes
[Before] there came; (see note); (t-note)
dwarf; (see note)
sweaty; heat

maiden was called; (see note); (t-note)
Noble; beautiful

was neither countess; queen
attractive; behold; (t-note)
exquisite fabric; (see note)
Full cut; skimpy
Edged; white fur
saddle; overlaid (with gold)
destrier (riding horse); (see note); (t-note)

indigo; (see note); (t-note)
In front; (t-note)
Strong; attractive; (see note)

surcoat; richly worked; (see note); (t-note)
beard; yellow; (see note)
belt; hair; (see note)
truth; certainty
shoes; made
showed; poverty

Theodeley; (see note)
Far and wide; (t-note)
Much; knew; entertainment
Citole, psalter as well; (see note)
fiddle; stringed instrument
noble entertainer; (see note)
cheerful storyteller
Now; your errand; (t-note)



Snowdon; (see note)
taken into
Who; value; (see note)
beseeches you send her
war; (see note)
win her [release]; (see note)

(see note)
heart hopeful; (t-note)

win; strength

witness; (t-note)
uphold; cause
spear; sword; (t-note)

object; (see note)
here sent
Your edict
Lost; honor
reputation tarnished; (see note)

stupid; churlish
When you have; renown
Perceval; Gawain; (t-note)
proven in tournament; (t-note)


Rightful king
Before; (Lady of Synadoun); (t-note)
battles three; (see note)

fate (chance)

afraid; (see note)
fear of daunting words

A little something; (t-note)
been slain; (t-note)
who flees

drawn and quartered
wind; be tossed

it is the law of the land;(see note); (t-note)

You will get; (t-note)
[Christ]; redeemed

rage; anger; (see note)
drink nor eat
no one
disappointed; (t-note)
taken away; (see note)

very place

(see note)
weapons whole; sound; arm [Lybeaus] immediately; (see note)

river [Jordan]; baptized; (see note)
[Lybeaus]; promises; (t-note)
good champion

defeat her foe in battle; (t-note)

[Lybeaus]; eager; (see note)
Perceval; (see note)
Agravain; (see note)

placed upon; (see note)
surcoat; milk
handsome; hall
links thick; small

[Lybeaus’s] own father
Hung; neck; (t-note)
chevron (emblem); (see note); (t-note)
helmet elaborately made
not iron
head; (see note)

weapons; fight
fine falchion; (see note); (t-note)
Ywain; steed
good in battle
high-spirited; any lion

mounted; (see note)

Give; your
hand raised; (see note)
courteous; just
aid; also
lady; bondage

[Elene]; strong; spirited; (t-note)

Constantly she; complain; (see note)
Fool, caitiff (wretch); (t-note)
Although you
Lost; honor
before us keeps
each; (t-note)
reputation is well-known

is called; (see note); (t-note)
strength; stop
warrior fearsome
Through heart or; hip
Whoever opposes him
smitten (unhorsed)
whatever; betoken
sit (remain mounted)

rode on
just purpose

gleaming in appearance

bore a shield; (see note)
lions; shining

matching harness straps and saddle trappings; (see note)
deliver; blows
ever eager

fair knight; (see note)
Whosoever rides; (t-note)
by necessity
leave; weapons

pass through
far; friend
uncharted way; go

escape so [in this way]

furlong to the west

It will be no other way; (t-note)

prove your skill
ready to go


deadly spear
firmly; (t-note)
stirrups broke
As well as the back of his saddle
hind quarters

jumped up quickly
Never before; (t-note)
Have I ever found; strong
If; noble


falchions unsheathed
Blows they delivered
fire, truthfully
helmet; basinet burst out

did thrust
shield high up;(see note)

warrior skilled; clever
Barbel (chin protector)
slip down
on top

shaved; beard
(without cutting the skin)
so powerfully
burst in two

(see note)

It; villainy
cause; to die
Weaponless; place; (t-note)

Unless you; oath
Before you go hence

swear; falchion; (t-note)
Arthur go; (see note)
a vanquished
sent me here
you call; manner
(see note)
Unknown; lineage; (t-note)
his knees dropped
as he was told
agreement from start to finish; (t-note)

Something happened
splendidly clad

sister’s sons freeborn

who were enraged

has done
are you bleeding so much

is called; (see note)
has nothing to learn
rides; before; (t-note)
also a fair youth; (see note)

one; grieves me sorely; (t-note)
swear; (see note)

Never stop
must present myself
defeated; field
By his (Arthur’s)
Neither shield nor spear

Certainly; fail
against; three
Go yonder; keep your oath
assail (attack)
Before; passes through
hauberk; tear apart; (see note)
chain mail; Of this knew nothing; (see note)

(see note)
step by step

together; (t-note)
Sport; pleasure; (see note)
“Forgive me”
villainy of him
forgave; (t-note)
their squire

In the morning
continued their journey

richly attired; (t-note)
Caerleon; (see note)
turn around
relinquish; reputation

rip to pieces (lacerate)
To that purpose


all of you at once
confident in his ability
against; did ride; (t-note)
In seriousness; not in sport

close; (t-note)
Gower’s thigh; (see note)
ever after [Gower]

groaned in pain

Who; form
laughed; (see note)

chosen; champion

middle; watched; (t-note)

broke in two
lance head stuck firmly
where it; driven [thrust]


eagerly; (t-note)

(see note); (t-note)
Knock; (t-note)
warrior in a battle frenzy

deadly falchion
strong; landed; (t-note)
helmet; basinet; (t-note)
It (his stroke) stuck; helmet

Then grew; aggrieved
renewed vigor
sword; waved around
As if [he were]; crazy; (t-note)
One; against
no fair
grim; (t-note)
Staunchly against

through God’s

very same
left; burst in two; (t-note)
with his own eyes
neither strength nor courage; (t-note)

cried for mercy

You will not escape

You; brothers two
pledge; promise
Arthur go
[one] person; (t-note)
sent me here
surrender; tower
under; rule

unless; (t-note)
Before nightfall
two knights promised

Their oath; pledge
Rode on (continued) their
Where they had left off
Until; third; (t-note)
rode; leisurely conversation

[farther] west

knew not; for them
town; (t-note)
built; lodge out of leaves; (see note)
strong; (t-note)


all night; stayed awake; (see note)

Their horses; stealth; (t-note)
fear; shake
Half a mile away

may prepare yourself

hear boasting; (t-note)
smell; roasting
Giles; (see note)

hearty; bright; (see note)
picked up
drew near
giants; (see note)
red; loathly; (see note)
any pitch (i.e., tar); (t-note)
Grisly; countenance
(see note)
clasped to; bosom
briar; (see note)

boar; did turn
upon; spit
screamed ceaselessly
witness; (see note)

live through


It; worthy enterprise; (t-note)
at the same time
child’s play; (see note)
natural cunning
just cause
lung; heart; (t-note)
did rise

Then fled
(the Virgin Mary)

her took
led; woods
lodge; leaves
good intentions
beseeched; (see note)

never would be overcome; (t-note)

(see note)
wild wolf; (see note)
stroke; lethally
steed; (t-note)
went (fell)
reacted instantly
out of; saddle
spark from a burning coal
heart fierce

pay back; reward;(see note)

For a long time
[The giant’s]; burst; in two
tree; lifted; (see note)

broke; into three [pieces]
[the giant]; tree lifted up
from him

head; decisively
found; (see note)
(see note)
heads; (see note)
carried them to

happy; relieved
many times

Noble lady

father; great renown
was once
earl; gray-haired

(see note)
call; (see note)
From outside; a while back

i.e., flower picking

lying (truthfully)
leapt; (see note)
By him; violated
Had God not sent aid

[May] He give


[Lybeaus and company]

rode; together

as a gift; (see note)
much good cheer; celebration
quickly arose
noble; (see note)

[Lybeaus’s] good deed; (t-note)
Gave; reward; (see note)

Confer; their
Where; lodge secure
(see note)


Beautifully; it
(see note)
crenellated towers
conquered; force of arms
laughed; lady
Call for




declared; (see note)
Whoever brings; one
gerfalcon; swan; (see note)
as beautiful
(see note 768)
cut off

far and wide

(see note)

Michael; (see note)

lay claim to; falcon

lady twice as beautiful; (see note)
gaze upon


yourself; danger
(see note)
secret stratagem


Before; eastward
city; mile


win himself renown
himself; completely
Earl; (see note)

formidable palace

galloping; (see note)
loud; did cry
voice; shrill
you; good
at once

Said; immediately

false thing
pure; (see note)
lady by daylight

dressed up


shall prove rightfully
Who; fairer
(see note)

in the midst of; (t-note)
they (the ladies)
[by those] bound; freeborn
i.e., beautiful enough


Their gauntlets
right there
hostel (guest quarters)
would no longer stay

it [told]; (see note)
dress; herself presentable

Jeffron’s lady; beautiful

To the middle of

clothes; comportment
If you are; as beautiful
win; gerfalcon

You are doing; uncouth act; (see note)

You refuse counsel; (t-note)
follow; irrational impulses
lost; (see note)

Bethlehem; (see note)

rather, by; James
torn apart

immediately; (see note)
samite; (t-note)
did she dress herself; (t-note)
head coverings
Edged; gray squirrel fur
circle (crown); head

good saddle horse

beautiful to look at

In the middle of
they saw


He (Jeffron) bore; red (gules); (see note)

color scheme
trappings (decorations)

carried lances
lady; carried
noble gerfalcon

(see note)
Dressed; cloth

see; (t-note)
cloak; exquisite
Interspersed; ermine
crown; head

enamel figure

complexion; red
thread (wire) shining
silk thread; (see note)
Curved; length; breadth
in proportion

who saw
neck; thin

chairs; marketplace
Their beauties; display

Immediately; doubt
Among them; agreement
Jeffron’s lady; beautiful
stem; arbor
I am not kidding
(see note)
Nothing but a laundress


hawk; lost; (t-note)
head; falcon
agreed upon
defeat you
go; (t-note)
In spite of you, old man; (see note)

With nothing more to say
party [of knights]
steel-tipped lances
Each against
Their lances burst asunder; (see note)
Their blows sounded like

Drummers; trumpeters
Heralds; raconteurs
Their; did describe

[a lance]
a head
noble man-at-arms; (see note)
as firmly

cause; to slump
horse’s rump

Alexander [the Great]; (see note)

so [forcefully]
shield knocked away

laughed all who were there
earls; barons
had they seen
joust with

started on his way at once
nearly; mind
That; succeed

in a state of madness; (see note)
sat so firmly [in his saddle]
fell down
with his horse
back broke [so loudly]
far and wide

who were there

him [the gerfalcon] carried

shield; (see note)
joyless lamentation; (t-note)

named; (see note)

that; won; (t-note)
heard it (the story) recounted

war (battle)
(see note)

hundred pounds
Carlisle; (see note)
lasted; (t-note)

end of six weeks
their permission; go

Took up their former path

rode; hill; (t-note)


noble hall; (see note)
hunting calls


Wirral; (see note)

rode [while] talking
hunting dog; running; (see note)

i.e., since they were born

(see note)
flowers; (see note)
Midsummer; May; (see note)

should have it
bore it to
talked about
ladies; beautiful


[When]; doe; running
hunting dog; spoke

waited; linden tree
path; doe
bay destrier
bugle; began
so that hounds
where he was

greyhound; own
Gone for; years

No! That shall never happen!

Who sits beside me
(see note)
bicker when you [should be] patient
care nothing of your guile
Churl; complain; (see note)

your; are rash

earl for a long time

Prepared; you are
right now (together)
Unless; leave the hound
before evening

stance; (t-note)

They; their

dwarf led them; (t-note)
tower; (see note)


taken away
swore [Otis’s friends]
traitor should be

more fearsome young man; (see note)

armed themselves
As if they were going to war
their warhorses
their lord’s

they (Otis’s men) saw


Because of; hound
serious problem

strongly advise that
edge of the forest

Engage them in battle

there; waited
crossbows; (see note)

bore; horse

(see note)
Who; betray
whomever; struck
i.e., was dead
[a] deer
serious injuries

ready for battle; (see note)

All day; waited
Dressed in matching garb
[Otis de Lyle]

hard blows
sparks began to fly

slew; three of them; (see note)
fourth began
stay near
abandoned; conflict
(see note)
sell their lives dearly

i.e., mayhem ensued
alone against; (see note)
Nearly overcame him
As water does; scythe

nearly done for
broke; hilt
(see note)
helmet with visor
skull it stuck

front of his saddle
done for
enemies; fully intending
pierce; armor
chain mail; steel breastplate; (see note)
began; hurt
i.e., mustered his courage
stirred; spirit
had at hand
was hanging
it seemed to him too

Then; aroused himself
Three horses
slew in three strokes



chestnut; (see note)
would have killed
Except; yielded himself
[Lybeaus’s] mercy

prescribed amount

sworn contract

defeated; taken prisoner
(i.e., subject myself)

aloud; silently
led; tower

noblemen fifteen
Told; mighty deeds

won fairly
i.e., Arthur; grateful
many times


recover; strength
whole; sound
end of the fortnight
Resumed their
Snowdon; (see note)

[Otis]; delay

as a prisoner surrendered himself

amusement; (see note)
everyone there

[Arthur] Who; honorably

(see note);(t-note)
other stories

took part in adventures; (see note)
In Ireland; Wales
It happened; I think; (t-note)
fennel; (see note)
sign of the season
Merry; birds’ song
notes; (see note)


palace splendidly built
asked what it was called
call; Isle of Gold; (see note)
battles; (see note)

Because of; great excellence
Ruddy (red); stem
called; (see note)
blocked passage
[like him]

Whichever; bridge
lay down his weapons
bow (pay homage)

feet tall; (see note)

think carefully about
Whether; matched

each eyebrow
bristles; sow
a beehive
i.e., forty-five inches
fists are powerful

Maiden gracious; (see note)
Despite; strokes ill (evil)

hope to slay him
winds; lightning
little [trees] prevail

Isle of Sorrow; (see note)

wooden bridge
pagan idols; (see note)
brightly gilded

shield in front of him

shouted; anger
Hey you!
what you are; (see note)
Turn; immediately
your well-being

a pledge
i.e., run away
you devil
Prepare yourself now

(see note)
splendidly arrayed
rode purposefully

are positioned; their towers
aloud; silently

vile giant
worshiped; (see note)

Their lances burst
Their blows seemed like; thunder
pieces; fly off
Each spectator
had not been killed
very start

to strike
so [hard]
from; (see note)
did fly; (t-note)

cunning; cruel
horse; head; (see note)
said nothing

seized quickly; (see note)
hung; saddle
i.e., strongly
horse’s neck
severed bone and flesh
head; field


Both scoffed at their wounds
each is the other’s foe
hour of prime (sunrise); (see note)
evensong (vespers)
thirsted sorely
have mercy; (see note)
Let me take a drink

Whatever boon you ask
should the need arise
it would
thirst; slay

[Lybeaus]; riverbank
through (by means of)
sharply; whacked

river [Lybeaus] fell
in bad shape
twice as eager
Did you think, fair friend

baptism; (see note)

Each at the other

delivered hard blows

their hands wrung

Sliced through; shield
By strokes
ran to
it seized

[Lybeaus to Maugis]

Each the other began
i.e., until dusk
water’s edge

[a] strong warrior
great strength
emblazoned surcoat; (see note)
shoulder bone
field; I kid you not

began to realize; (see note)
should be slain
ran after him
three hearty strokes
in two

came to greet him

(see note)
with pomp and ceremony

her champion
Against that vile giant
took off; armor
beautiful clothes

acceded to her wishes; (see note)

radiant; lovely; (see note)
Would that; had been chaste

treachery; harm
(see note)
break away

[Dame Amoure]
five others [like her]; (see note)

gazed at

paradise on earth

blurred; vision; (t-note)
May misfortune befall her

maid; (see note)

Who can do great sorcery
yourself; dishonor

for a long time; prison

It seemed to him; heart would

locked gate
break away
From; noble woman

iron clothes (armor)
rode away
Her steward
[Lybeaus’s] squire
(see note)

their journey
light brown

called it

finely crafted

what activity

Carnage (corpses); filth (see note)

took back inside

does this mean
bring in; waste; (see note)
taken out before


whether weak or hardy
exhausted by travel
Who is called; (see note)

ask yourself

before; tends to your needs; (see note)
jousts; demand

defeats you

Their blasts loudly

maiden; boy
whichever; go

coward; become known


shameful disgrace

honor; (t-note)
free that lady

prepare yourself

rode forth to

five lances

asked [for] their hospitality; (see note)

asked; very soon
their lord; (see note)


flower; chivalry
defeat; foes; battle; (t-note)

honorable; (see note)
No kidding
Sir; (see note)


just as quickly
Joust; them

prepare themselves
field; go

does; (see note); (t-note)


Spear guards; hand guard

lance; shield
i.e., joust

That is what I want to hear

beasts; bay (cornered)
sent for
attire; formidable

azure; (see note)

Three bear heads
burnt coal
ermine (see note)
clever; device
From Carlisle to Kent
very same design

Three squires
lances; carried
deliver strong strokes

hearty steward; (see note)
called Sir Lambert

As if he; leopard
lance rest


Either struck the other
Truly, without doubt

changed course

anger; hardened heart


Then; (t-note)
points sharply honed
rode; energy

so [hard]


[Lambert]; chin strap

Collar, lower helmet; neckpiece

(see note)
child; cradle
[those watching]; sleeve
laughed; their; clapped
Barons, burgesses

joust better


lance shattered



(see note)
you have; (t-note)

I never saw
Such riding; pleasure

You are; Gawain’s kin; (see note)

security; faith


promise (behest)
know neither where nor why
Nor who does her; torment
cause her sorrow



deeds brave

many villains
did not refrain from assailing
Then; happy
(see note)

Soon; uplifted spirit
invited; supper
much joy; entertainment

Talked to each other

Who holds


Who dares to lead her away
Two clerics; foe
done; deed
Masters of necromancy; (see note)
Their; counsel
one; (see note)
(see note)

fortress cleverly engineered
neither earl
i.e., courage
It; necromancy
Built; fairy (enchantment)
extraordinarily difficult it
lies; prison

Who; knight’s kin; (see note)

hear her
Though we cannot see her
afflict (torture)

their oath
death; bring

grant; birthright

kingdom fair
oversee with honor (joy); (t-note)
meek; good
Lest; do her sin (rape her); (see note)

set free

cut down
heads; chin

Then [there]; serious talk

Instead [they] supped; merry; (t-note)
noble dwelling

skill; make known
sitting together
their supper


With weapons
Fully rested

no others bring
Baron, burgess, nor

Except; servent

i.e., dash his brains out
stay any longer


them who

Sir; courteous; (see note)
embattled city
service at table
in front of; high dais
his own eyes
in the middle of
fire; powerful; intense
gave out light

inward proceeded
look around
remote corners

he saw no one
Except; fine clothes; (see note)
organ noise

dulcimer (citole)

In front of each

Ignited; burning
learn; great anticipation

were beautiful to see
Decorated; enamel
a mighty work

painted; (see note)
none fairer was

sat himself; dais
silent; (t-note)
reliable; excellent
burned brightly
suddenly went out

[if] it; a thunder blast


(see note)

to split open
(see note)


Still; fight

two men
refined unalloyed
straps and trappings


Although; in fine clothing
clever; ingenuity
If you [should]


did leap
quickly rode to them
their shields
hearty; blow
Mabon’s; shattered
thought himself shamefully humiliated

horse’s tail
back of his saddle



[Mabon] lying inert
hauberk tore
Iran did not like that
Their lances; in two; (t-note)
Their swords; drew though
grim; fierce


began to strike blows
villainous [of the two]

was very terrified

[Iran]; defeat

secure (protected)


The front of the saddle
horse’s neck
a skillful warrior

shoulder bone; flesh
Neither did his armor help
nor enchantments; charms (see note)




Utterly broke
In two; cleanly

sorely enraged


(i.e., an understatement!)

As if [he]; lion
from; (see note)


I will surrender loyally

power; (t-note)

venom; kill; (see note)
poisoned them
Certainly; oath
enemies; defeat

your offer

cut off
head; chin

slashed at each other
[Mabon’s] helmet
in two

When; (see note)
cleave; brainpan


place he did not know
for a long time
dwelling places

did not find [Iran]
thought; to be deceived

from me fled


knew not
bereft of happiness; (see note)


dragon therewithin emerged
(see note)
(see note)
Shimmered; ways; (t-note)
enamel; gleaming

mighty underneath
wings hideous; terrifying; (t-note)
sweltered; sweat
on fire
would burst
approached; near
before; knew it
dragon; kissed; (see note)
grasped him; neck

(see note)
dragon’s tail
from her

before like that
mother naked (see note)


rewarded your
enemies; would have slain

You have defeated
conjured; fiend

mastery; their words (magic, spell)
did; destroy
Through; enchantment
dragon; transformed
sorrow; live; remain
Until; kissed Gawain; (t-note)
some [member]; kin

because you have saved

Give; to
your wife
Meekly; hesitation; (t-note)
If it is Arthur’s; (t-note)

as well
dreaded; (t-note)
not slain
might he cause him [Lybeaus] to die; (see note)

Where; people waited

dealt with

i.e., the Lady of Synadoun; (t-note)
their enchantment

[Into]; changed

(see note)
(see note)


Trimmed; gray fur
Headdresses; garlands

their; dwelling

(see note)


many times
their sorrows; relieved

it; due to her
each; according to; rank
gifts aplenty



joy; happiness

eagerly; (see note)

noble woman


rhyme; chronicle
splendid hall

least; also the greatest

Each minstrel; earnings
gratuitous (unpromised); (see note)

dwelled [there]
there held their feast


brought them
Seven years; lived together; (see note)

i.e., the Lady of Synadoun

(see note)

Here ends Lybeaus Desconus

Go To Libious Disconious (Biblioteca Nazionale, Naples, MS XIII.B.29)